Sunday, October 4, 2015

Dawn Lerman's "My Fat Dad"

Dawn Lerman is a board-certified nutrition expert and a contributor to the New York Times Well Blog. Her company, Magnificent Mommies, provides nutrition education to students, teachers, and corporations. She lives in New York City with her two children, Dylan and Sofia.

Lerman applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love and Family, with Recipes, and reported the following:
From page 99:
Brenda, Robyn’s mom, explained how there was so much shame associated with our bodies and it was wonderful to feel liberated. She said if I was sweaty or just felt constrained by what I was wearing, I did not need to keep my clothes on. I said I felt more at ease covered, and she respected that.

She felt that was very important for girls to love their bodies no matter the size or shape. She told me she used to be extremely thin, but after becoming a mother, she put on a little weight due to the fact that she was always cooking and baking for Robyn. Also, her ex mother–in-law lived upstairs in the same apartment building and was always feeding her—probably because she was feeling guilty that her son left Brenda. But I bet the real reason she remained close to her daughter-in-law was because of Robyn. Robyn was the glue that kept them together. Robyn was very close to her Grandma Ethel—the way I was with Beauty. Ethel was always around, and the two were only separated by a quick elevator ride or a couple flights of stairs between their apartments.

During my stay at Robyn’s, her mom made me the most delicious dinners—while standing over the stove naked—grilled lamb chops with Saucy Susan, roast chicken with Saucy Susan, veal chops with Saucy Susan, and stuffed shells with ricotta, spinach, and garlic powder. Brenda was not a gourmet cook like Robyn’s dad, but she said that with a couple of tricks like garlic powder and Saucy Susan, anything could taste impressive. She even taught me how to suck the marrow out of the chicken bones.
In my house, food and affection were inextricably tied. My father was a successful advertising executive for popular food products “Leggo My Eggo,” “Coke Is it,” and “Once You Pop you Can not Stop.” He usually weighed around 350 pounds, but his weight would often fluctuate a hundred pounds on either end as he tried (and failed) almost weekly to attempt the latest fad diet. He was always the best customer for the products he was marketing--especially when he was working on Kentucky Fried Chicken, Coke and Budweiser. My mother, meanwhile, was an aspiring actress and thought food was a waste of money and time. She was happy eating one can of tuna fish over the sink a day while chatting on the phone. Every memory, both the good and the bad from my childhood is tied to food--the food that I ate, the food that I was not allowed to eat, and the food that comforted me. My childhood is a collection of smells and tastes from the people who nourished me, both mentally and physically.
Visit Dawn Lerman's New York Times blog and Facebook page.

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--Marshal Zeringue