Dear Mexican Food,
Hey! Why do you gotta be so tempting? You with your cheesy enchiladas and refried beans and pork tamales, all slathered with mounds of salsa and sour cream and guacamole.
Oh, what I wouldn't do for a side of fresh guacamole right now. Fresh guacamole to go with some warm tortilla chips. Warm, salty tortilla chips.
Seriously, Mexican Food, you make a girl want to break every last one of her sacred diet vows.
It's always the same each January. While gleefully dating every bad boy food known to man during the holidays fudge, almond toffee, caramels sprinkled with sea salt, green onion cheese balls, eggnog and even a slice or two of fruitcake you tell yourself that you'll settle down after the new year with a nice little grilled chicken breast.
"I'll sow my wild oats during December," you say, "but come January, that grilled chicken breast and I are gonna make a new life together. A quiet life. A modest life. A prudent life where we don't consume calories we can't afford. We'll be grown-ups, that grilled chicken breast and I."
And for a little while, you and the grilled chicken breast try to make things work. Both of you come home at the end of the day to chat about school and work and the well-documented health benefits of eating lean. The conversation is pleasant enough, of course. But secretly you start to feel like that staid, responsible chicken breast is a little bit boring, in spite of the Cajun seasoning you used last time the two of you grilled.
Still. You're committed. You are in this new food relationship for the long haul.
And then one night you happen to drive past your favorite Mexican restaurant, just sitting there on the side of the road like one of Ulysses' sirens sitting on a pile of rocks while combing her hair.
"Forget about that bland little grilled chicken breast waiting at home," the Mexican restaurant sings to you. "Come inside and order yourself a pork tamale."
Tamale. The very word makes your mouth water.
"But I'm tamale-free," you say, which makes you remember those months you lived in Finland. Cold, cold Finland where it was so dark you and the Polar Bears kept bumping into trees. (Kidding. Polar Bears don't live in Finland. It's way too cold there.)
You used to lie on your Finnish bed at night, thinking about how much you missed warm, cheesy Mexican food. In fact, Mexican food was the thing you missed most about America even more than Oreos and also your family. And, in fact, the first place you stopped after touching back down in Salt Lake City was Taco Bell, where you ordered a Burrito Supreme.
M-m-m-m-m. Burrito Supreme.
Meanwhile, the Mexican restaurant keeps singing, singing, singing, and the next thing you know, you answer the siren's call. You pull into the parking lot and hope the grilled chicken breast back home will forgive you when you walk through the door. Late.
Which brings me to this observation: Maybe January isn't the best time to start a diet. Like my friend Sally at the bookstore says, after all that holiday gluttony, maybe a body (my body, your body) needs to ease slowly into restraint. Very slowly.
Sounds good to me.
Feel free to give a shout out to your favorite Mexican restaurant by contacting Ann Cannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/columnistcannon.