The walking diet
Trot your way into another glass of wine
By Tim Protzman email@example.com
I think I found the perfect diet.
The nearest Burger King is 1.67 miles away. If I walk there, it’ll burn 11 calories a minute. It takes me 14 minutes so that’s 154 calories. And if I eat a Whooper Jr© it’s only 322 calories! This means I have a 168-calorie deficit, which is nearly erased by the walk back home. Actually, I end up with exercise, food and only 14 unused calories.
The bad part is there’s a supermarket a few blocks past the Burger King and they sell Ben & Jerry’s. Which is only 290 calories for a half cup of Heath Bar Crunch. But who eats only a half cup of ice cream? I usually turn the whole thing over and cut the bottom out. Then I can eat it like a push-up pop. Unfortunately, that’s 1,160 calories and I’d have to walk for one hour and 45-minutes to erase that. And after eating a meal of salad with bacon ranch dressing, two cups of pasta in a vodka cream sauce with braised sausages and a six ounce lava cake for dessert, I’d have to walk for 3.3 hours to come out even.
But still, the “if you want fast food, you gotta walk” rule makes sense. And it was on an afternoon jaunt in the mild global warming winter temperatures that I found the no-frills store.
It wasn’t like a wholesale club. It wasn’t like a grocery store. The closest thing I can compare it to it is an Army PX. The proprietors were from one of those un-pronounceable central Asian republics. And not to be the quintessential fat, snobbish, laugh-at-anything-different American but I find most foreigners have some little quirk about American culture. Like Sheila, whose father had been knighted by the Queen. She collected Beanie Babies. And Junichi. He had a thing for black velvet Elvises (or is it Elvi?). Or Maricarmen, who runs a large nonprofit. She thinks Pringles are the bomb and on par with Carbonada Criolla, a delicious stew from her native Argentina, made with beef, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, corn, zucchini and pears and peaches. It’s like when we go to Belgium and get hooked on that French fry-and-mayo thing they do. And look at North Korea’s Kim Jong-il. He’s got a thing for lobster, Segway Scooters, iPods and Richard Hennessey Cognac, a very pricey mix of ancient brandies, some over 200 years old, blended to perfection and costing around $1,300 a bottle.
The store sold almost everything — brand-name cereal at half price, six limes for a dollar, a gallon of cider for $2.49. The place reminded me of Brighton Beach. Not the Brighton Beach of Neil Simon’s memories, but of today — signs in Russian Cyrillic, European-style grocers with one for pork, one for chicken, one for fish. And caviar — all grades — at half the price you’d pay in Manhattan at Petrossian or Cavair Russe. A shopping trip to the little store was like a trip on the B train. A piece of foreign culture melded into America.
But it all changed. The store got popular. Went from a medium-size box store to a big glass-fronted strip mall retail space complete with those international restroom signs of the guy in pants and the woman in a skirt. They started to charge a nickel for bags. The owners were never there. The new manager wore a tie that matched his toupee. And I couldn’t get my Gem of Dushanbe brandied plums there anymore.
This weekend I went out for a snack. I walked to Dunkin’ Donuts. I enjoyed a latte that was as good as most barista joints make. I needed olive oil. The trouble with discount markets and wholesale clubs is it’s nearly impossible to go in and come out with just one thing. I went in for one and came out with seven. On my 163-calorie walk home I noticed I was missing an item. I went back and showed my receipt to bad tie toupee head manager. He said he couldn’t help me. If he gave it to me the missing item, he’d have to do the same for everyone.
I considered violence but the last time I was in court I watched the judge sentence a woman to six months for battering a smart mouthed shoe salesman about the head and face with a wedge. So I did what any marginally disenfranchised person would do. I placed an ancient Midian curse on the bad manager, the store and the cereal aisle for good measure.
The manager was stunned but he really couldn’t do anything. There was no swearing. No breach of peace. Just a fat grump reciting the Latin version of an ancient curse developed by the Midianites, who lived at the foot of the sacred Mount Sinai and were very used to seeing Yahweh cover the top in clouds. Moses married a Midianite woman after he left Egypt the first time. I found in an obscure text from the 19th century while researching Moses, the Exodus and wines that go with Passover Seder. When I finished I left the store, without my Cocoa Krispies.
Since then I found out from Bhavana, who owns a nearby liquor store, that the former owners opened a new place in a neighboring town. And it’s right next to a Taco Bell! And the cursed store? No news yet. Just waiting for the summer when their crops will wither, their goats will scatter and Philistines burn their tents. Bhavana had me try these wines at a tasting this week:
First a trio of beauties from Michael David Vineyards in Lodi, California. These wines were inexpensive and nice.
But I’d rather drink something good that’s a bit manipulated, as we say, rather than a sullen, cranky overpriced flop that finished poorly but is true to its soil. And compared to other West Coast wines this is so much more natural tasting.
7 Deadly Zins ($11.49) A great zinfandel with a bit of merlot flavor just before the finish.
6th Sense Syrah ($10.89) Very elegant and sunny with currant, lavender and a hint of chocolate and pepper.
Maley Valley Zinfandel ($21.99) Rich with faint beef stew flavors behind the fruit.
Pavin & Riley Columbia Valley Merlot ($19.99) Yum-bo-licious! Cranberry tart, homemade grape jelly smooth and a strong framed structure.
Livon Braide Grand Pinot Grigio ($23.99) Possibly the best pinot grigio I’ve tasted. Crisp, light with lemon, faint butterscotch and a sweet whisper on the finish. From Italy’s Fruili region.
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