Once, in her interview with Boris Yeltsin, Barbara Walters asked the late Russian leader a pointed question: “Do you drink too much?”
“Nyet,” said Yeltsin.
Walters then wielded her biggest weapon: the silent stare. She knew silence makes people talk even if, in retrospect, they wish they hadn’t.
“Well, okay,” Yeltsin conceded. ”On holidays. Or with my college buddies. Don’t I look like a healthy man to you?” he pleaded.
My diet is like Yeltsin’s sobriety. It’s conditional.
That’s because, sometimes, I side with the old school notion of eating: do it if you have to. And sort out the consequences later.
Sure, there are vitamins, protein and whole grains in my meals. I go to the gym to lift things and I ride a bicycle – around the city, not the stationary sort.
But sometimes life throws a curveball, and fresh leafy greens just won’t do. A Russian-born woman once said at a swanky party in New York: “Lettuce? What am I, a cow?” The other girls stopped talking and looked at her, outraged by this insult at common decency. I, too, pretended to be angry. Yet, a traitor to the weight-obsessed and pseudo-nutrition-conscious American diet, I secretly agreed with the girl: we are not cows.
I’d like to share something called the emergency Russian binge diet, partly to unburden myself of the guilt for knowing what it is, and partly to send a message of hope to my sisters who sit on their beds at midnight clenching buckets of ice cream, or with chocolate bars bleeding on their fingers – and feeling hopelessly dishonorable. Because dishonor is the last thing a person needs when her foundation – be it a job promotion, relationship, or friendship – is already crumbling underneath her feet. Stuffing face without losing face is the answer.
Russian diet starts with the starches. The best way to enjoy a filling meal is to boil a couple of peeled potatoes.
Then chop or mash them, right in the bowl if necessary. Slather the potatoes with butter, add a glob of sour cream, and voila.