Maury Z. Levy

Eat, Eat

In SJ Magazine on September 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm

salisbury-steak-2The first time I ever ate filet mignon was at the Pub on the Airport Circle, the circle with no airport. It was after my junior prom, which I remember like it was 44 years ago. The salad, disguised as half a head of lettuce, was covered with creamy Russian dressing. The girl was covered with dreamy pink organza.

The memory that lasted the longest was that steak, so thick and red and juicy. To that point in my life, the best cut I’d eaten was a rib steak, smothered in canned corn, accompanied by a baked potato with half a cup of sour cream on top. In those days, in my house, sour cream was a condiment.

The steak would be for special times – birthdays, anniversaries, pay days. The rest of the week, we ate the usual. Sweet and sour meatballs with kasha and bowties; boiled chicken with matzoh ball soup; brisket with brown potatoes and rice; and tuna with blintzes and sour cream or a big bowl of Creamettes, the Jewish pasta.

It was such an immovable feast. I loved to eat back then, except for Thursdays. Thursday was liver. I hated liver. I hated the look of it, the thought of it, the taste of it. I used to try to hide pieces of it under the lumps in the mashed potatoes. But my mother always found them and made me finish. “There are kids in Korea who don’t have food to eat,” she said. “Can we mail them my liver?” I asked.

It was years later that I learned the food I grew up on was horrible for me. Liver is an organ meat, full of impurities. And who knew about carbs or artery cloggers? “Eat, eat,”my mother would say. “It’s all good for you.”

Back then, it was done with premeditated love. Mothers only wanted us to have the best, the best their limited resources could provide. They did it out of love and they did it out of ignorance. Who knew that those pains I had in my stomach every day on the way to school were from an intolerance to sour cream? Who knew that the pure sugar I used to dump by the tablespoon on my shredded wheat and my French toast would result in diabetes? Nobody knew.

But we do know now. We know that over 60 percent of Americans are obese.And we know that you’re not supposed to supersize. And we know you can’t eat meat at every meal. And we know you shouldn’t always have fries with that.

I read a report just last week that radiologists are having increasing trouble taking x-rays of people because the machinery wasn’t made to penetrate so many layers of fat.

We were in a casual restaurant in Cherry Hill the other day. A family walked in and asked for several tables to be pushed together because they were too big to fit in a booth. There was grandma and grandpa and mom and dad. Together, they outweighed the Eagles’ offensive line. I felt sorry for them at first. But then I watched them order and eat. Fried cheese, loaded potato skins, big double-decker cheeseburgers. A pizza on the side. It was their kids, the little four- and six year olds who I really felt sorry for. What kind of a chance do they have in life? And what are these parents thinking?

Listen, if you want to kill yourself, you have the right to main line all the cheesecake you want. Hey, put some sour cream on top, for all I care. But, knowing what we now know, if you continue to stuff your kids silly, you’re not a good parent.You’re an abuser.Nothing less. If you really care, you should stop. Stop, in the name of common sense. Stop, in the name of love.

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