Friday, November 13, 2009

Sweets Embargo

So my husband Jim and I make this pact: We can eat whatever we want when we're not home, but we won't bring any more candy, cookies, cakes, ice cream, or whatnot into our house. I figure this means we'll be well on our way to beating our sugar addiction. Beating it. With a whisk. Into a vanilla-scented, velvety sweet meringue to grace the top of a chocolate coconut cream pie, with a buttery graham cracker…wait, Holly, focus.

We launch this plan on New Year's Day. We have so many treats still to eat, from previous supermarket trips and leftover holiday extras, that we don't feel deprivation kick in until March. But then it gets interesting as I try to satisfy my sweet tooth without goodies. I start by gorging on pineapple, berries, and raisins, but let's face it. Fruit trying to be dessert is like a marshmallow trying to be a pillow. Mmmm, marshmallow.

I begin regularly adding half a jar of honey to my tea. I scrounge for random chocolate chips in the dark corner of a drawer. I slurp down expired pudding from the back of the fridge. Soon I'm chewing on hardened brown sugar nodules like a wannabe ex-smoker chewing on pencils. When Jim comes home, I kiss him passionately in hopes of savoring a morsel of any treat he's had from his workplace vending machines. I work from home, so he makes it to the promised land of "outside our house" much more often. Ah, outside our house. Out there we gave ourselves carte blanche…a la carte…a la mode.

We start ordering dessert every single time we dine out. If we go to someone's house, we have third and fourth helpings of their sweetest offerings. We think if we stock up out there, we won't care about the slim pickin's at home. But naturally, all this indulgence just keeps our sugar addiction alive. I end up buying chocolate bars to outfit my glove compartment. "So," Jim says when he discovers this. "We're allowed to fill up the cars with the stuff?" I say, "Well, you're not, but I am." I'm just trying to protect him from coming over to the dark side. The dark chocolate side…

I sorrowfully read through dessert recipes, salivating and smacking my lips on imaginary brownies, macaroons, snickerdoodles, you name it. If I were an alcoholic, I’d walk into liquor stores just to read the labels. Ah, 88 proof, I knew ye well. Here and there, we make up for our solid sweets deficit with sugary cocktails. Are you ready for a Godiva/Kahlua/Amaretto/Frangelico bonanza? This I admit is the same as pumping ourselves with pancake syrup through an intravenous line.

Our embargo saves time when food shopping because I just skip over all the dessert aisles. Of course, this is about as much consolation as it would be watch your house burn down and realize at least this means no more electric bills.

We do pretty well there for a few weeks. I start to crave sugar a little less. When I do feel the urge to reach for a tooth-rotting snack, I instead do something fun like learn piano music, read, or play with the dog. Jim even says he feels a little more energetic.

And then it comes time to have a party for the first time since the pact. We break down. We simply must bring an array of desserts into the house for this occasion. There has to be another loophole for when we entertain. So we go to the grocery store, and we buy enough sweets to cover all possible personal tastes. We bring home the entire gamut from coffee ice cream to devil's food cake to oatmeal raisin cookies to saltwater taffy to Boston cream pie and beyond.

I do kind of feel sorry for our guests, having never seen any of it.