I have a problem, I thought as I started eating my third dessert of the day. I began at Jacques Torres Chocolate with a luscious, rich hot chocolate, to warm the coldest day I have experienced in a while. Then my friend and I crossed the street to Levain Bakery, my personal heaven (though it is not only mine – the bags from Levain actually say “Your Little Piece of Cookie Heaven” on them) (also whoever said that the Upper West Side is boring was deeply wrong). We split a cookie – oatmeal raisin, doughy in the middle, with a crispy, buttery top – and a luscious slice of banana chocolate bread. Honestly, these treats made me feel more serene and satisfied than I have felt in awhile. Of course, it helped that I was with an old friend who always makes me feel like home is near.
Afterwards, I walked around the flatiron and found Dough, one of the doughnut places that I have been dying to try (the other being Doughnut Plant). It was no coincidence that this shop, where I sat at as I wrote this, played gentle piano music, for this calmness that both the sweets and sounds provided made me feel so whole.
I think that sugar is my drug; I don’t ever really want to get drunk or high. I just want to feel satisfied. Sugar sure does it (and it apparently makes your brain react in the same way as it does to cocaine, so I guess it is more than a drug than I would like to think).
It’s like the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, that requires all things sweet: raisin-filled challah, apples and honey, all that goodness. These sweet things are supposed to hail a sweet, good New Year. They have a power to replicate their greatest qualities in your world.
The food we eat – it all taps into something. If meat evokes our carnal, then sugar evokes our comfort; so many carbs come with those little kernels of sweetness, that comfort and internal peace are almost sure to come. Indulgences also allow us to say “yes” to our desires, which is no small thing. I prefer to sit at a bakery, café or doughnutery, and join others as they enjoy themselves, be they strangers or friends. I like to feel like a free agent – I just want to want what I want, and to have a desire satisfied. We all have holes in ourselves, and as I start to find my own, I realize more and more that they are not worth leaving empty. If something like a cookie really makes me feel better, then cookies I shall have. Why shouldn’t I have what I want?
Here’s the sour, bitter, anything-but-sweet truth: sugar makes me feel like shit after too much of it. As I write, I feel my brain whirring, my stomach growing heavy. I don’t feel like I have slept 8 hours all week, which I have. I wonder if my skin will begin to break out even more than it has been. While all of these worries bubble up, I can’t help but think that whatever I just ate did something to me. I guess Julia Child said it best: everything in moderation, including sweetness.