Don’t jump to conclusions.
I’m not about to deliver a tale of oxycodon-driven woe, a story about shooting up in a public restroom and a trip made in bondage to a desert spa where monkeys are whipped from the back of a hapless soul by arbitrary, puritanical keepers.
It’s not me; it’s my wife.
Kathy’s in detox, but she’s home, doing it herself.
She’s not ridding her system of illegal and addictive substances — she’s never had that kind of problem (ignoring one brief flurry of fun in 1973). She’s on a special 48-hour diet designed by the author of one of the oh-my-God-if-you don’t-change your-lifestyle-you’ll-die books she orders from the Health Paranoia Book Club. The bozo tells her that, if she follows his plan, not only will she purify her body, ensuring several additional years of vital but incredibly boring life, but her spirit will be cleansed as well.
Kathy likes a clean spirit.
Kathy forces me to scan the book. The author swears a fruit juice and nuts diet will ream the toxins from the body. You’ll look better, you’ll feel better, you’ll live longer, you’ll finally understand differential calculus and be able to repair computer-dominated internal combustion engines.
My wife swallows it hook, line and sinker. Kathy comes home with bags full of organic produce and juices ready for Operation Detox.
“We’re hopelessly polluted and we need to cleanse our systems,” she says as she takes the blender from the cupboard. “I’m preparing a big mug of ginger tea and a pitcher of pineapple and mango juice for breakfast. I’ll make some for you. I really think you need to do this with me; you’re, without a doubt, the most polluted person on the planet.”
She’s probably right, but there’s not a chance I’m jumping into this one. I believe a diet rich in toxins and lots of fat makes you strong. And that which does not kill you …”
Although I have no intention of participating, the 48-hour detox is perfect for me: Kathy can sip juices, eat nuts and become progressively pure and enlightened while I take advantage of her absence from the table to repair to the food laboratory and come up with a new treat or two.
It’s a classic Hermetic situation: As my beloved muse enters a higher and rarified state, I will experiment, transmute leaden foodstuffs into gold, and feast! Symmetry: As above, so below. The Hermes Trismegistus of the stove!
Kathy begins her day with pineapple and pear juice. I knock down a couple cups of fresh-brewed Colombian supremo then motor to a local outlet for some toxins: bacon, eggs, green chiles and cheese stuffed into a white flour tortilla (extra grease, please). Then, it’s off to alien turf — the health food store: I have a list of ingredients I’ve been ordered to fetch.
When I return home, Kathy seems to be in a fine mood. She is sitting on the couch, holding an empty glass. She is grinning.
In fact, she can’t stop grinning.
For lunch, Kathy blends up yet another glass full of juice, this one containing tomato and celery (“with the tops”). I decide to engage in some supportive behavior, so I clean the blender and pulverize my own lunch: pineapple and orange juices, five or six strawberries and an entire banana. Oh…and three jiggers of Patron. I sit with my bride and we drink lunch together.
It’s soothing. I feel calm.
It doesn’t last. Two hours later, I am ravenous. I rip through the refrigerator and cupboards in search of real food. I find it, and it’s toxic: leftover macaroni and cheese. I throw it in the wave and heat it.
I am stronger.
Kathy walks past the kitchen and tells me she is taking Arnie for a walk. She has the leash, but no dog.
“How ya doin’ darling?”
“Great, just great. I can feel the toxins leaving my system.”
“Well, don’t get any on your jacket.”
I decide my lab work will center on a theme ingredient — one Kathy doesn’t like. The list of foods Kathy dislikes is long, so the field is wide open. For no particular reason, I select chipotle pepper — the smoked jalapeno, lovingly canned in adobo, one of the world’s snappiest tomato-based sauces. In truth, it’s not one of my faves, but I decide to give it another try.
I hustle off to the grocery to corral my supplies. Excuse me, my toxins.
As I prepare to leave, I find Kathy standing in the hall closet. The light is off.
“I’ll be back in a few minutes, honey.”
And hums a couple bars of the national anthem.
At the market I nab a couple decent looking poblanos, the sexy cousins of the Bell pepper. I pick up a carton of cream and some sharp cheddar cheese. I am up to three items Kathy can’t stand. I toss a small white onion in the basket next to a hunk of chorizo: item number four.
I will stuff a couple poblanos and devise a sauce to go with them.
At home, I fire up the gas grill and toss the poblanos on the rack. I peek at them occasionally and turn the peppers when the skin has blackened. I keep turning the peppers until their skins are entirely black then I take them out and put them in a paper bag. I twist the top of the bag shut and wait.
While I wait for the steam in the bag to do its work on the peppers, I annihilate some dry bread in the processor, transforming it into crumbs. I peel the poblanos, cut a slit in each pepper and gently remove the seeds and membranes with a dull dessert spoon.
I finely dice onion and sweat it until soft. In goes some mushed garlic. When the material is soft, I remove it to a plate and toss in the chorizo, turning up the heat.
I finely dice a chipotle, retaining its seeds and the adobo sauce that flows from it. When the sausage is cooked I remove some of the grease with a paper towel, turn the heat to medium low and throw in the chipotle, the onion and garlic, and let the mix warm for a moment. Off the stove it comes and it is blended with breadcrumbs and a handful of shredded sharp cheddar and shredded asadero. When the lot cools, I add two beaten eggs.
I stuff the peppers, put a bit more shredded cheese on top of each and plop them in an oiled baking dish. They go into a 350 oven for an hour.
I set to work on my sauce, ready to ascend the alchemical heights.
Kathy staggers into the kitchen and stands at the sink, watching water flow down the drain. Her detox diet allows her six unsalted cashew nuts for a snack. She wolfs down all six in one bite and turns to me, her eyes glazed.
“Karl, do you hear merry-go-round music?”
I finely dice another chipotle and two cloves of garlic. I put a heavy saucepan on medium low heat and add a half carton of cream, the peppers and garlic. The mix is reduced by a third. It takes the better part of 30 minutes.
I use flour and butter to build a roux in a separate pan, add some of the hot cream to the flour, whisk it smooth, then combine the roux with the cream in the pan. The brew gets a bit of salt and pepper and a liberal dose of the organic honey I bought for Kathy’s fruit concoctions —enough to give the smoky, hot creamy sauce a distinctively sweet edge. As a finishing touch, I grate a small amount of fresh ginger and pop it in the brew.
After a few minutes on the heat, the blend is ready; I strain the sauce and it is perfect.
Kathy sits on the living room couch staring at the television. The set is not turned on. She is gnawing on a slice of mango, talking to herself.
I sit nearby, devouring a stuffed poblano swimming in honey/chipotle cream sauce. I am growing increasingly toxic. Strong, toxic and very happy.
“It’s so bright in here,” says my bride. “If I had the strength, I’d get up and close the blinds.”
It is 9 p.m.
I sleep better than I have in months, a sound sleep experienced only by those who have poisoned themselves with noxious foodstuffs. Kathy’s rest is fitful, at best. Several times, she hurls herself out of bed yelling, “Fire in the hole.” Obviously, her spiritual state is improving.
The next morning, I am in the kitchen drinking a cup of coffee when Kathy comes downstairs. She slumps into a chair.
“I felt weird this morning when I got out of bed,” she says. “Weird, but good — light, and energized. I think this detox diet is really working.” I stop her before she leaves the house to go downtown to play piano for the Methodists. She’s forgotten her pants.
When Kathy returns, I set to work on my second experiment, in preparation for a late breakfast.
Kathy sets up shop at the counter next to the sink. I worry she intends to use a knife to cut fruit for her small salad. Sharp objects are not the best things for her to handle at this point in time.
I dice a chipotle pepper, the smoky scent rising from the cutting board,
Kathy groans again.
I dice onion and a clove of garlic and toss the onion in a lightly-oiled frying pan over medium heat. I add a bit of julienned cooked potato.
I chop some smoked chicken and toss it in the pan along with the chipotle and garlic. Some salt and a grind or two of black pepper is added. The aroma is magnificent; the smokiness of the chicken melds with the smoky quality of the pepper and a new culinary being is born. Lead becomes gold.
Kathy makes a primal sound; it is indescribable.
“What’s wrong sweetie?”
“Karrrrr … I … Inee …Ineeee…elp.”
I pitch in and give her a hand with the fruit. She toddles off to the dining room table.
I fry an egg and put it on a warm flour tortilla along with the chicken mix. I dust the medley with some grated cheddar and roll ‘er up.
I’m transported: I’ve discovered a special filling that will come in real handy in the future.
Kathy eats her fruit salad, one little piece at a time, dropping every third or fourth piece on the floor where Arnie instantly hoovers it up.
I take my plate to the sink and repair to another room to work on the computer.
Kathy stays at the table, trying to eat her fruit salad.
She is still there when I emerge nearly an hour later.
“How ya doin’ honey?”
Clearly, she has shucked her toxins.
This 48-hour regimen is a dandy: Kathy is pure as driven snow, rid of pollutants, brand-spanking new, her circuitry polished to a high sheen by fruits and nuts.
Me: I’ve had plenty of latitude to putter around in the kitchen. I look forward to doing it again.
I encourage Kathy to try this diet again, soon.
“Best thing that’s ever happened to you, honey. You’re glowing.”
In the meantime, I’ll remain polluted. I’ll need the strength to carry Kathy upstairs the next time she goes to detox.