Here we have 2 empty red jugs and 2 green jugs filled with unbleached whole wheat flour. They’re filled with 11.5 pounds of flour, to be exact. I’m not entirely sure that I am comfortable with the word “jugs,” but it really seems to be the most fitting noun in this scenario. Onward!
One of the coolest things about working in a test kitchen (and there are loads of cool things) is watching people’s reactions when I describe my job. Some people get glassy-eyed with hunger when I talk about developing recipes for new cookies, pies, and cakes. Some people (mostly guys who idealize the stunt man profession) get a kick out of the product testing procedures, which on any given day may include some or all of the following:
dripping and/or oozing from places that shouldn’t drip or ooze
popping sounds mere decibels shy of ruptured eardrums
microwave sparking to rival an Independence Day fireworks display
Yes, people’s reactions are pretty great, and they give me joy and a renewed sense of gratitude for my awesome job.
And then, it comes – the question to end all questions about my chosen profession as a pastry chef.
“How do you stay so skinny?”
In fairness, men don’t ask me this question, because seriously, how creepy would that be? But the ladies just can’t seem to resist. They always ask. If I had to estimate how many women have asked me how I stay skinny/thin/trim/fit, or some other such synonym, I’d guess 11 million, conservatively.
Seriously, It just happened a few days ago during an interview with a local Chicago magazine. After 5 years at my current job, and with 5 years of bakery work before that, I should have seen it coming. But no matter how many times I’m asked, it still makes me slightly uncomfortable.
I mean, who really wants to talk about their weight? It’s a pretty personal matter. Even right now, as I’m typing this, I’m having reservations about publishing something like this. My discomfort stems from that fact that I’ve never, ever thought of myself as thin. Even as a kid, when I was very fit from running around playing basketball, I wasn’t stick-skinny. My weight hovered within the size medium range. There were hip-less girls, all angles and length, there were softer girls, and there was me, right in between them. I wasn’t the biggest, and I wasn’t the smallest, and I’m still there today.
Yes, I have easy access to a variety of desserts and pastries all day, every day, so it wouldn’t be crazy to think that I would gain weight, and I kind of have. But I also haven’t. The truth is that I’ve been gaining and losing the same 15 pounds over and over since college. I hover in this weight range, and when the waistbands of my pants start to feel snug, there are certain things I do to nudge the scale back downwards. It usually comes off pretty slowly, since sampling cakes and cookies is basically written into my job description. Abstaining is not an option.
At present, I’m hovering a little too high and I’ve known it for a while. I’ve been letting myself indulge a little too often, both at work and outside of it. I’m at 11.5 pounds on that 15 pound fluctuating range.
11.5 pounds is a whole lot of flour. Those are some heavy jugs.
I’m a visual person, so I’m using the flour to remind myself of my commitment to a healthy weight. and healthy lifestyle. As the number on the scale gradually decreases, I’ll transfer the corresponding amount of flour from the green jugs to the red jugs. Over time, the green jugs will be flourless. It’s the “gluten-free diet.” Get it?!?
Wait…did you really think I was giving my my test kitchen job and going gluten-free?