Not Getting Any?

Sometimes when you’re paging through, say, Cosmo, it can feel like everyone in the world—your friends, your neighbors, and, hell, even your second-grade teacher—has a sex life reminiscent of those hot, sweaty, twisted (in the best possible way) scenes in “Unfaithful.” However, acrobatic or even plain old vanilla sex isn’t happening for you tonight, or any other night for that matter. But everything around you—magazines, movies, those constant reruns of “Sex and the City” you always manage to stumble upon while channel-surfing alone on Friday night—seems to be conspiring to remind you of your sexless life, which is worse than a cult showing up with Kool-Aid.

But not to worry: the INCEL movement is here. INCEL (How has this phrase not been splashed across t-shirts sold at designer boutiques yet?) is short for “involuntary celibacy,” and, in short, means the state of not getting any for reasons other than, say, an actual vow of celibacy or commitment to abstinence. Or as WebMD puts it, “ordinary healthy folks who want to have sex but can’t make it happen in their lives.” (We’re not sure how comforting it is to know WebMD is weighing in on it at all, as if it’s diabetes or ulcers, but we appreciate the clarity.) INCELs are a demographic so rarely discussed that there are no statistics on their numbers. However, you should feel at ease knowing that if you lately often find yourself starring in your own rendition of “Sexless in Seattle” or “Home Alone: The On My Couch On a Saturday Night Without Even My Vibrator Edition,” fear not, you are not alone.

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FemiNoshing: Why Can't Even Female TV Cooks Be Fat?

I really enjoy your recipes, Giada De Laurentiis. I made your saltimbocca for New Year’s Eve, and your artichoke soup is a staple in my repertoire. But, if you don’t mind my asking, do you ever enjoy your own food? Sure, I see you taking a bite at the conclusion of each show, but honestly, I have my doubts that you dine that sumptuously every day.

The same goes for you, Padma Lakshmi. I’ll bet you never actually swallowed that repulsive-looking Carl’s Jr. burger you were chomping with such gusto in that commercial.

And let me not forget Debbi Fields, who for years made the most decadent treats on television yet never seemed to gain an ounce.

Now, ladies, I want you to know I don’t dislike you personally. And I don’t hate the thin (just slightly begrudge their genes). But I do despise what you represent: the celebrity chef who cooks heavenly food yet never seems to get to enjoy it. I despise your alleged effortless perfection, which presents you as the male ideal: the hot chick who cooks without getting fat.

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FemiNoshing: Our Tortured Relationship with Food

Show me a woman without food issues, and I will show you a unicorn. As far as I am concerned, they are both mythological creatures.

I can honestly say I have never met a woman who hasn’t shown some sign of having an uncomfortable relationship with food. It could be as mild as only drinking diet soda or using sugar substitutes in coffee, or bemoaning “having an accident” by eating an entire pint of ice cream at once. Or it could be as extreme as permanently cutting out a basic food group without trying to find a nutritional equivalent (like animal protein or carbs) or going on a month-long juice fast.

I am not even talking here about full-blown eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, binging without purging, and constant compulsive eating. I am talking about the little things most of us seem to do in the name of “taking care of ourselves,” things that are punishing and make no sense, such as skipping a meal in order to make up for indulging in dessert the night before, or just feeling guilty at all for eating “bad” food when we normally eat a balanced diet.

In other words, I am talking about the way we all, regardless of age, size, or ethnicity, feel it is normal for women in our society to essentially be on a perma-diet.

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FemiNoshing: When Just One Bite Can Kill

I could murder my best friend in under five minutes with the contents of the second shelf of my refrigerator.

That’s right. I said murder.

The second shelf is where I keep an assortment of nuts. I have pine nuts for pesto, slivered almonds for green beans and pastry, hazelnuts for that gianduia ice cream I keep meaning to make, and walnuts to pair with goat cheese for salad.

But I would never make any of those dishes for my best friend, because she has a severe allergy to tree nuts. We’re not just talking hives or an itchy mouth here, we’re talking anaphylactic shock, where your throat closes up suddenly and you can’t breathe. Even a sliver of almond can kill you by strangling you from the inside.

The only way to prevent death from anaphylaxis is to shoot the patient full of adrenaline (my best friend never travels anywhere without her EpiPen, which delivers a big enough dosage so she can breathe again, then get herself to a hospital, STAT!), or, if no adrenaline is available, cut a hole in her trachea below the swelling. Sounds fun, huh?

The scary thing is, my best friend is one of half a dozen friends and acquaintances I know who don’t do well with nuts. Of those, half are at risk for anaphylaxis. Half (though not the same half) are also allergic to peanuts. (Peanuts are not actually nuts, but legumes. And wild rice is not rice, but a kind of marsh grass. But I digress…)

I also have several friends who are allergic to shellfish. One of these is a restaurant reviewer, and he has told me he occasionally tries shellfish dishes anyway. Luckily, he is not prone to anaphylaxis, but I still can’t make up my mind whether he is insane or really dedicated to his craft. Then there is my friend who is allergic to beef, and my friend who is allergic to chocolate.

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FemiNoshing: A Fork in the Eye

Welcome to “A Fork in the Eye,” a new feature here at FemiNoshing that seeks some justice against those people I consider harmful to women’s diets and psyches.

It’s tough enough growing up female in this society, where we’re taught to hate our bodies and to believe our food needs are “unfeminine” lest they make us fat and therefore — gasp! — not aesthetically pleasing to the male population. (Who, for the record, oftentimes express perfect contentment with our bodies just as they are.) Is it any wonder so many of us are disordered eaters who regard food as an enemy?

The people I will mention in this installment, and in future ones, just seem to make things worse. Getting a symbolic eating utensil shoved into a vulnerable spot seems fitting punishment.

Let the forking begin!

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FemiNoshing: A Delicious Salad for Salad-phobes

I’ve never cared much for lettuce. You can keep your iceberg and romaine, your bitter endives and sharp arugula. I prefer my spinach cooked, thanks. If I must eat a mound of greens, I want them well dressed in Ranch or Green Goddess, which defeats the idea of low-cal.

But I do love veggies otherwise, so I have come up with various sneaky ways to make salads without a lot of lettuce. One of my favorites for the summer is a fennel-beet concoction I will share with you here:

GOLDEN BEET AND FENNEL SALAD

4 small golden beets, tops cut off

2 large bulbs fennel, tops cut off

Olive oil

1/2 cup whole walnuts

4 tablespoons goat cheese

Olive oil and red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Boil beets in a large pot of salted water until tender. Drain, peel and slice.

Cut fennel into strips. Saute in about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan or skillet until translucent. Add two tablespoons water to saucepan, cover with lid, and let steam until water has evaporated and fennel is tender.

Toast walnuts until golden. Crumble goat cheese.

To assemble, place a pile of fennel on a plate. Arrange beet slices on top. Add goat cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, then season to taste.

Makes 2 side salads.

 

– A.K. Whitney


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