By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Recently, I have intentionally broken my rules on healthy food. Readers may drop their jaws to find out my secrets. I have often preached a healthy lifestyle, and yet I have been dreaming about consuming some unhealthy food.
If I share with you what they are, you would laugh. Yes, I have been hungry for French toast and strawberry waffles during the whole pandemic year. You would say, those are nothing but calories, white-flour bread filled with sugary syrup and buttery cream, plus other unhealthy but tasty ingredients which restaurants would never disclose to the customers.
To keep myself from getting sick during an abnormal year, I have been living a life of discipline, perseverance, and sacrifice. I feed myself and my husband a healthy diet 96% of the time. A healthy lunch means an apple salad with avocado and nuts and noodles or bread, and our dinner is usually full of vegetables and seafood or meat. After a while, those foods become too boring and predictable. I want to be bad, not to be good. To hell with keeping myself healthy!
Believe me, my husband and I have experimented making French toast at home, but we didn‘t succeed. Although I still would eat it, the truth is, it tasted below average. It didn’t satisfy me at all. It makes me want the “real thing“ more and more. The only option would be to go to a restaurant.
However, the lockdown does not allow us to dine in a restaurant as much as we want. We prefer to do take-out. Those two items I missed during COVID have to be served hot and cooked fresh. You can’t do take-out. The toast and waffle would become soggy after three minutes. And we are not comfortable going to any restaurant without sufficient social distancing, even after inoculation. And I don’t have time to hunt for those yummy treats.
One day, without much effort, we found the best French toast in town. It was such a surprise that a seafood restaurant would even serve such an item. We were going there for the pan-fried oyster. Notice that I prefer pan-fried, not deep-fried. It’s less greasy and more tasty.
It was Easter Sunday, that’s why. The restaurant offered French toast as an additional brunch item on the menu. One bite of the French toast, and I felt like I was in heaven. What a treat! Because I won’t find the item on the menu the next time I visit the restaurant again.
I never expected to have such a great lunch. What happened to the pan-fried oysters? It was fine, but the toast stole all the glory! The toast was fluffy and creamy and perfect in shape, taste, and size, just melting into my mouth.
While I was happy during my French toast experience, I was in disbelief to see the restaurant turning away many people because they didn’t make reservations. It’s sad to see a business with so many empty seats, and not being permitted to fill them. They saw their potential income flushing away helplessly, and they couldn’t do a darn thing. The state allowed only 50% capacity for dine-in at the time.
The French toast brunch is just a small, but much needed event in my life. If it delights me, hey, I am grateful that I still “have a kid” in me. Actor Michael Douglas said in an AARP Magazine article that the joy he has been pursuing is not that much different when he was young, now that he’s 76 years old. “I’m looking for the joy of a good moment” in work and life.
During COVID, finding simple pleasures are the highlights of my day. Sometimes, I create these little joys. They make our life less difficult, and more interesting and invigorating. Sometimes, they just meander my way whether I pay attention or not. Don’t take your small pleasures for granted.
Recognize and record them every day. They are the magic, which can sustain us during our terrible, uncertain, and depressing times. They help us to glide through our day more easily, sometimes the whole week and even longer when you savor these precious memories in your journal.
I was surprised that even during COVID, I have no difficulty in recording several of those moments. It reminds me, “Life isn’t always wonderful, but it’s still worth living.”
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.