Archive for August 19, 2010

Makeovers, Before and Afters, and Happy Endings

   I once heard a personality theorist claim that our childhood fairy tale preferences reveal a lot about our grown up selves. According to family lore, I used to love Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. I would cry myself red-eyed every time I heard it, then ask for it again, night after night. 

It’s a tragic tale, really; the story of a misplaced cygnet who suffers much heartache, repeatedly fleeing abusive treatment because of his motley appearance. I can barely stand to read a summary of it today, but apparently the glorious outcome, as the now-grown duckling transforms into a beautiful swan soaring majestically overhead, was sufficient reward to me at age three. 

An internet search on this fable brings up huge piles of psycho-babble about identity seeking and self-esteem – interesting deductions, since the story revolves around genetic coding and outward appearance. I think I liked it as a child because of the uplifting, redemptive ending and because the “after” was such a dramatic contrast to the “before.” Maybe even because I fantasized that fate might someday transport me to my own idealized state, like the swan, who was predestined to become what he became.  

Over the years I’ve continued to feel a strong pull to magazine articles featuring makeovers, and even to those hokey one-page testimonial ads by “real people” who talk about how they turned their lives around with the right diet or miracle supplement or change in philosophy. I like to think I have matured. Maybe not.  

My adult analysis? Perhaps these themes hold appeal because we all have been blessed with a desire to achieve our personal best, until environmental influences or sheer inertia rob us of that impulse. The idea of correcting course and reinventing ourselves can be an alluring prospect. 

Practicality further argues that many formulas benefit from being re-worked, like a political campaign that introduces sincere humility (it has been done) and baked beans without nine grams of sugar per serving (have you read that label lately?). So, as the crowd gasps in wonderment at yet another back-flip from general philosophizing into the arena of food preparation, today, a few random comfort food dishes inspired by the makeover theme (non foodies can skip to the concluding paragraph): Pork and Beans for the New Age, my version of an ethnic pasta dish, Noodles with Onions and Cottage Cheese Lite, a nutritionally enhanced Golden Mashed Potatoes, and for a little something on the sweet side, an “after” version of Morning Glory Muffins that I call Anytime Muffins. Those could be a happy ending all by themselves. (more…)

August 19, 2010 at 10:39 pm Leave a comment

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Recipe. According to Encarta, "a list of ingredients and instructions for making something." The thesaurus offers the alternate terms, "formula, guidelines, directions, steps, technique."

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To that end we offer inspirational real-life stories about PEOPLE OF FAITH AND COURAGE; menus and cooking directions meant to fuel your creative inclinations and your healthy body in the form of MUSINGS OF A MIDWESTERN FOODIE; and ADVICE FOR LIFE from the perspective of those who have lived it to maturity. (Click on the green category tabs at the top of this page to learn more about each section.)

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