Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flippin' (for) the bird

I think I have a problem.  A Panera problem.  Don't judge, just listen.

In 2000 I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, an autoimmune digestive disorder which can be irritating and embarrassing at best and painful and debilitating at worst.  I've experienced the gamut and am here to say, something has gotta give!  Today, I take three pills a day to manage my symptoms.  I used to take nine and have a home healthcare nurse plug an IV of mouse antibodies in my arm for three hours every six weeks.  So, things have improved.  But this fall, what with the stress of teaching and having two kids with busy schedules and my own work/school/parenting routines, I've been down and out with abdominal pain a lot.  My doctor is awesome and very accessible, but at a certain point, I just don't want to take more meds.

I'm convinced that I need to change my diet to help with symptoms.  Not because I have read scientific studies or prowled Crohn's message boards. It's more innate than that.  First, I'm weaning off of dairy, which is a stellar pain because ice cream is God.  I've dabbled with soy and almond milk products for years, but cheese, butter, sour cream, oh kill me now!  All of this dairyless dining has driven me to my next love.  No, it isn't chocolate or coffee or even Coca Cola (hmmmnnn, I'm thinking I may have a caffeine issue).  It's chicken.  When my stomach hurts I, for whatever insane reason, must have poultry.  Turkey will do in a pinch.  Funny story: my family members are all vegetarian.  Well, my husband eats fish, but for all intensive purposes, vegetarian.  I once ate a piece of fried chicken in front of my daughter and she shielded her eyes.  It was too barbaric for her.  I get it.  In college, I was vegetarian (because that's when you become a vegetarian, people!).  I eschewed meat of all kind: hooved meat, winged meat, scaled meat, and even meatless meat freaked me out because it tasted and felt like meat.  When my college choir tour bus stopped on route at a McDonald's for dinner, I sanctimoniously unwrapped my Granny Smith apple and jar of natural peanut butter.  Yum.

Because of my past and because no one in my family eats poultry, I've never learned how to cook a bird.  Happy Thanksgiving.  Here's some Tofurkey!  Hence my Panera problem.  I am seriously craving the bird, any bird, and Panera is everywhere near my house, near my doctor's offices, on route from school.  Poultry is my drug; Panera is my pusher.  Curse you, Panera, and your Turkey Bacon Bravo! (I actually ate one of those the other day and stomped my foot on the ground after sinking my teeth into the sandwich.  Stomped my foot with intense pleasure.  Stomped like I've been stranded on a lonely island eating crickets and this was the best goddamned sandwich delivered on the backs of angels.)  I have frequented Paneras so much lately that I secreted away the leftovers by folding over the bag and shoving it behind the tofu in the fridge.  I was ashamed for my husband to see. 
A loving photo of the Turkey Bacon Bravo by an adoring fan
It seems I'm not alone.  While perusing the interwebs for a photo of the Turkey Bacon Bravo sandwich, I discovered that a lot of people have taken loving photos of this very sandwich.  Not all of these folks are foodies with blogs.  These are average schmos in love with a sandwich. (The secret ingredient is meth.)

For whatever physiological reasons - tryptophan, salt, meth -  poultry brings my belly comfort and joy during a season of excess, despite my disapproving family. 

If loving poultry is wrong, I don't want to be right.

My daughter sees a symbol.  I see delicious finger turkey sandwich.