I rarely make meaningful New Year’s resolutions, at least not ones I intend to see through very seriously. Occasionally, I’ll remark aloud that I plan to do something that I should be doing anyway, like running more, being more organized or keeping myself under control when faced with awful theater etiquette. This year, however, I feel like I need to memorialize in print that I need to stop eating everything in sight.
It’s not completely my fault that I’ve been overeating. The tail end of my marathon training last year coincided with the time of year when we all give up and eat our way through the holidays. I just kept eating like I was training. Besides, I’ve always been fortunate enough to keep the pounds (and sadly, most muscle) off of my small frame. But old age comes and takes it toll in many ways, none more unforgiving than when it snatches a once active metabolism away.
It’s also not my fault that I’m living in a city where food is king. It’s not a secret that our restaurant scene thrives from tiny BYOBs to the many fine dining establishments by the greats who call Philadelphia home. Friends who move away miss it; people who visit experience it and marvel.
My plan to behave myself around food was supposed to kick in sometime after Christmas. That plan was abandoned hastily when my boyfriend got me the crown jewel of the Philadelphia Foodie as a Christmas gift: a reservation for the tasting menu at Vetri. You see, when I first moved to Philadelphia, I lived two blocks from Vetri and would pass it every day, vowing that one day I’d have an occasion special enough that I’d use as an excuse to splurge and eat there. We went last weekend, and nothing culinary has been the same since.
We arrived giddy, starving and underdressed and were greeted at the door with flukes of prosecco (after they confirmed that we did, indeed, have reservations). We were led to our table clothed in plain white linens where one of the countless dining staff members gamely explained to us the rules of the evening. We’d look at a large menu, make any notes that we wanted, and then the chef would surprise us with a different dish for six courses. Our meals would be structured and designed for us. The wine pairing, which we opted out of this time, would cost any remaining arms and legs.
The food. Oh, the food. Our salads contained things I’d normally find scary or unpalatable, like artichokes, beets and something we were told was called nizzarda, a made up name we didn’t bother looking up. The pastas were fresh velvety pockets and pillows of joy that were doused in things like orange butter, cranberries and chestnut crema. A sweet onion crepe set in a truffle fondue made me bolt upright and slap our waiter in the face for failing to warn me how amazing it would be. Something called a tortellini pie (crust filled with a mixture of meats, cheeses and pure crack cocaine) is surely the only thing that will bring peace to our planet, when everyone has a slice.
All told, we consumed a multitude of cheeses, vegetables miraculously transformed to morsels of deliciousness and so many animal meats, we lost count. Just kidding; we counted 13 (tuna, scallops, octopus, squid, salt cod, skate, beef, veal, pork, andouille sausage, wild boar, turkey and goat. No partridge in a pear tree). Desserts were angels mixed and dusted with chocolates, sugar and nuts, and baked to perfection. When the meal finally ended, our hosts stuffed us in our winter coats and rolled us on our way home.
So, this year, my resolution is to treat my body better with the food I put into it and not use the food as a crutch. I don’t know how long this will last, but the memories of my last culinary hurrah are sensuous and decadent enough that I just may be able to convince myself that I’m full.