The Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet: Everything We Ate For An Entire Week (Pt. 2: Thursday through Sunday)



Thursday, February 5th

LJ: I woke up in a foul mood- what a stupid week for a Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet! I am dealing with many work and life-related stresses that are making me into a very anxious person. I gave my current job my notice for the 1st of March and I am paranoid that I’m not going to find a new job in time. It has been over a week since I’ve had a day where I didn’t have to attend either work, a trial shift, or a job interview. I feel wiped out. Plus writing down every single thing I eat is calling attention to the fact that I do not have a kitchen. I want a new home. I am a Cancer and I need a nice shell to feel safe in. Right now my shell sucks and I am just a naked little crab body.

Like every morning, I woke up to my coffee and cereal, a new cereal: Tesco “crunchy oats with tropical fruits.” It is significantly more exciting and delicious than the strawberry garbage I was eating earlier this week, but still way worse than my favorite oat cluster-based cereal, which is raisin and red apple and comes from Sainsbury’s.

Mark and I decided to go to Nando’s before I went to work because I was depressed and Nando’s always cheers me up. We are huge Nando’s aficionados and whenever I go longer than two weeks without it I start craving it obsessively. We like to check out all the different Nando’s locayshes this fair city has to offer but the King’s Cross Nando’s is definitely our home Nando’s. Once I read in a tabloid that Sam Smith was spotted at the King’s Cross Nando’s, so I am definitely very impressed with Sam Smith’s excellent taste in Nando’s.
        There was a bus strike, so we walked to King’s Cross. I was starving and Mark started chanting “NAN-DO’S NAN-DO’S NAN-DO’S” like a jock and usually I really like chanting things in that particular way but I was too hungry to be able to say the word Nando’s without resenting my life for still being the walking to Nando’s rather than eating Nando’s part of the day.

At Nando’s my hair looked really windswept and bad. My usual Nando’s order is: chicken thighs, hot, with two sides: coleslaw, and macho peas. But today I swapped out the macho peas for the spicy rice since I was too hungry to eat only vegetables. I would rather die than swap out the coleslaw for ANYTHING. I am a big coleslaw fan and Nando’s coleslaw is my perfect coleslaw, salty and mayonnaisey but in no way soggy. Coleslaw with no mayo is a waste of my time. I’d rather just eat something actually healthy.
        Mark also veered slightly from his regular order of chicken thighs with garlic bread and creamy mash; today he got chips instead of mash. Mark tends to switch up the spice level of his chicken thighs since he has this weird insight into the cooking techniques of all the different Nando’s chefs in our area. He goes extra-hot at the King’s Cross Nando’s because he thinks the kitchen have too delicate a hand when it comes to spicing. We also shared a thing of olives and I drank several glasses of fountain Diet Coke. I was in the mood for dessert but Nando’s desserts generally suck so I restrained myself. I had a Nando’s Americano.

I went to work and skipped out on staff meal because duh. I was still craving a sweet so I decided to duck out and buy myself the greatest sweet around: a brownie from the Wildflower Café. I ate a bite of it before service and then by the time service was over I was so hungry I just scarfed the bulk of it down and barely took the time to appreciate it, which is a drag because those brownies are NEXT LEVEL, man. That was my impersonation of Timothy Leary explaining the vibes of a Wildflower Café brownie. The first time I ever ate one I emailed several people telling them that a brownie had just changed my life.

I try a lot of different wines during work but I don’t count them as food because I spit them all out. But sometimes I swallow champagne because I could always use a little champagne pick me up. We all could.

I think I ate an apple when I got home but I am not a hundred percent sure.

LIZOh cool, this is the day I went to Starbucks three times, and also to Dunkin Donuts and Coffee Connection. First Starbucks was pre-gym, a grande iced coffee and a drizzle of half & half. For post-gym breakie I did fava beans + veggies (brussel sprouts, eggplant, mushrooms, red peppers, red onion, purple kale). I drank my Sweet Harvest Neil Young Pumpkin Magic tea or whatever it's called, with Soy Dream and honey.

In the early afternoon I drove out to Santa Monica because I wanted to look at the ocean and go to Dunkin Donuts. But first I went to a Starbucks on Wilshire to do work; I got a chai tea and a banana. And then, for reasons I can't remember, I left that Starbucks and went to the Starbucks on Montana and drank a tall iced coffee. Did more work, went back to Wilshire, got a big fat french vanilla coffee with cream and two sugars at Dunkin Donuts. It tasted like home and happiness.

Post-Dunks I walked down to the beach and gazed at the sea and strolled up and down the pier. That night the center of the ferris wheel was a big red neon heart, I'm assuming 'cause of Valentine's Day; the heart turned with the wheel and I tried to take a picture capturing its upside-down position so it would be the Strawberry Fields Whatever logo, but it came out bad. After that I got my car and drove over to Mar Vista to write at Coffee Connection for a little while. Coffee Connection is deeply uncool, which is my ideal: I hugely prefer my coffee to have absolutely zero to do with fashion. I ordered a cup of hot coffee and a black currant scone and the scone was incredibly dry and I adored it. I felt like an orphan eating a nice biscuit. 

And I forgot to write down what I had for dinner but I do know that at some point that night I ate this thing of Cookie Monster raspberries, and they were the sweetest raspberries in the world:

Friday, February 6th

LJ: I woke up at 7:27 AM to my iPhone alarm, which is Daisy Glaze by Big Star. What a nurturing and chill song to wake up to! I was starving and scarfed down a bowl of cereal half-asleep. I drank a black Americano on my way to wine school. My wine school is by the London Bridge.

I made the idiotic decision to only have a coffee on our first break, which was at 11:30. I had a skinny cappuccino with an extra espresso shot. I don’t usually drink coffee with milk so whenever I do I think that the milk is going to give me tons of sustenance but it really doesn’t. It’s the same as a regular coffee. Anyway, I learned a really valuable lesson in how I have to eat a snack on this break next week. By the time lunch rolled around I was, I would say, one of the Top 3 times I’ve been hungriest since recovering from anorexia six years ago. I hated my wine teacher so much in the hour leading up to our lunch break. I wanted to throw a pen at her head. She was teaching us about vineyard management. I would barely even be able to pay attention to the vineyard management section of wine school on a full stomach and nine hours of sleep.

Whenever I’m at wine school I eat at either Leon or this really stupid place across the street. It’s called Tanner and Co. It’s so stupid and when you log into their wi-fi it makes you check in at the restaurant on Facebook, which is really embarrassing. I always immediately delete my check-in so people aren’t like “Hmmm why did Laura just mysteriously become a loser?” I only go there because I happened to eat there once five months ago, on the first day I ever went to wine school, and I am a Pavlov’s dog, and because I’m a lone wolf and no one else from wine school ever goes there, because they are all smarter than me. But I made a friend at wine school yesterday and I think that maybe next week I am going to ask her to have lunch with me. Maybe we’ll go to Leon.

I was planning on eating something healthy for lunch today because I want to prove to the people reading this that I am capable of eating at least one healthy meal this week, but I was too hungry to eat something healthy. You know what I mean? Healthy food lasts for about forty-five minutes in this body. I burn that shit up so fast! So I decided to get this lunch deal they have, where you get a sandwich, a side salad, a “pudding pot” and a soda for a tenner. I had a Diet Coke, a chicken salad sandwich with tarragon, which was simple and good but kinda tiny, and didn’t fill me, and a “cuppa slaw,” which was underseasoned and made of long curly tendrils of carrot that were difficult to eat and worst of all had no mayonnaise in it. When I ordered I implied that I was going to skip the pudding pot but then I was like “NO I NEED IT” because I was so hungry. I chose the lemon mousse as my pudding pot. It was such a sassy little bugger! Creamy and acidic and about as big an egg. It really made my day.

We didn’t try many wines during Day 1 of wine school, since we were mostly learning about things like grafting and cordons and aspects and other such boring shit I don’t care about. Nothing wildly memorable: a dusty, grassy Napa Cab Sauv was the highlight. I impressed myself by correctly identifying a Stellenbosch Chardonnay in a blind tasting; God I love an overoaked Chardonnay! When people make a big deal out of hating oaky whites I just want to throw jugs of the shittest, most grating Pinot Grigio in their faces and be like “IS THIS BETTER? DO YOU LIKE THIS WINE?” and then play one of those carnival games where the person sits on a chair and you throw a ball at a target and then the chair collapses them into a big ol tank of Pinot Grige. And then I’ll walk up to them holding a note that says “How do you like THEM apples?” and hold it up against the wall of the tank. That’s my big dream.

After wine school I went to the gym and did a reconnective healing therapy session with my sous-chef’s mom in Brazil. For “dinner” I ate a Waitrose fruit salad with pineapple, mango, kiwi and blueberries, and some Green & Black’s milk chocolate with sea salt. I used to front like I preferred dark chocolate to milk but that was total bullshit. I think it’s something we all have to go through.

LIZA nice scramble for breakfast, tofu + vej. On Friday afternoons I meet with my writer buddies so we can give each other notes, but first I had to go to FedEx to print stuff out on account of my printer being busted. And then after FedEx I went next door to Panera to read everybody's pages, and I got a Diet Pepsi, which is terrible. I even almost avoided going to Panera and drinking a Diet Pepsi so that I wouldn't have to tell you about it in this paragraph. I just think it's gross behavior: Panera is a place that deeply lacks character, and Diet Pepsi is a weird fake drink, but I have to own up to it. 

My pals and I met at Moby's, which I already shouted out when I wrote about the Iliad bookstore, but I want to reiterate how wonderful that place is: the nicest/chillest people, outstanding yet totally basic coffee, fantastic treats, a heavy amount of Bangles on the stereo. I got a big coffee and a treat that's either called "Apple Pop Pie" or "Apple Pot Pie" - I hope it's pop, but pot is cool too. My pop/pot/pie/thing is like a highbrow version of a McDonald's apple pie and equally magic, only richer and cakier and made with apple that tastes like it's real.

That night I went to Malo for dinner; we ate on the bar side. I got there first and ordered a plain ol' margarita. My margarita style is I drink out of the straw and then drag my finger along the rim and suck the salt off, which is possibly rude, but I can't quite say I feel compelled to stand on ceremony at goddamn Malo. For dinner I got the blasted half chicken (it should be called "Half-Blasted Chicken," I feel), which comes with onion cilantro slaw and rice and beans, and a glass of sauvignon blanc. The chicken was drowned in a goopy apricot-jalapeno sauce and it was fine, but really the whole time I wished I was eating arroz con pollo and drinking cheap chardonnay at the bar of a more old-school Mexican restaurant. Eating arroz con pollo and drinking cheap chardonnay at the bar of a Mexican restaurant is a situation in which I feel most truly myself. We also ate like 500 baskets of chips and salsa, of course, of course. At one point "Tender" by Blur came on and I remembered what a gorgeous song that is. LJ put it on a mixtape for me once like 13 years ago or something.

Saturday, February 7th

LJ: I had the weekend off work because an overenthusiastic girl flew to London from Paris to spend the weekend auditioning for the job I am leaving and I had a bunch of holiday days to use up. I woke up and had coffee and cereal and then took a bus to Angel and drank a black Americano at the N1 Centre Pret A Manger. The barista was this really loopy Italian kid who dropped so many different things! I just sat at a table and watched up fuck up his job over and over again. I wanted to take a picture of him and Tweet “This barista is such a trainwreck” but then I decided that I liked him and only wished him well. I spent the morning into the afternoon trialling for a job that you should all pray I get. Of course by the end of the shift I was starving, which is kind of the theme of my week. The manager packed me up a big takeaway boxful of a million different beautiful salads and then I went home and ate the whole thing really fast which I later came to regret. The highlight of the salad box was a three-way tie between the piece of salmon, the aubergine with yogurt and pomegranate, and the charred broccoli, which tasted weirdly like the smell of another person’s cigarette. 

I went to the gym and the gym sucked because I was pregnant with a baby-shaped mass of healthy and hearty vegetable dishes. I was also pre-menstrual and gassy in a way that you really don’t want to be at the gym. (Speaking of “gassy at the gym,” on Friday I worked out on an elliptical machine next to this horrible guy with a long braided rat-tail and he totally farted and then GOT OFF THE ELLIPTICAL MACHINE leaving me alone with the smell and possibly leading strangers to believe that it was ME! I hate that guy.) I didn’t realize I was pre-menstrual at the time. But then I ate a chocolate bar for ten PM dinner and was like “It’s so weird that I’m eating so much chocolate this week! Do I always eat this much chocolate?” and then I woke up the next morning with my period and was like “Ohhhhhhh.”

The chocolate I ate was pretty spesh. I bought it at Whole Foods that night I went to Whole Foods. It tasted more like chilli than mango, but also I was kind of drunk at that point and my taste bud receptors were pretty checked out. I was drinking the Waitrose house brand White Burgundy, just doing some solo drinkin’ and writin’. It was pretty dece for being a grocery store’s generic brand White Burgundy, which tends to be the case with Waitrose-brand wine. They always taste what they’re supposed to taste like.
        I’d been craving a Meursault since having that oaky Stellenbosch Chardonnay. Meursaults are such moody, brooding wines; I synaesthetically associate them with the colour dark grey, like a thunderstormy sky. I was pumped from having a good trial shift and considered splurging on a really gorgeous bottle, but then I decided I didn’t want to. I mean, I did want to. All I ever want to be doing is spending tons of money on gorgeous bottles of wine: in a perfect world I would have no other responsibilities. But I decided that it would be wiser for me to save my pennies for the lavish dinner I knew I’d be eating the next night. The baller grand finale to my week.

LIZIn the morning I went to Starbucks and got a grande iced coffee with half & half and then I went to the gym and ran my little heart out. After the gym I walked down California Avenue to the Great White Hut, which is a hamburger stand I've driven past about a thousand times but never eaten at. Look how cute it is! The main attraction is that it reminds me of the hamburger stand in Point Break where Keanu Reeves goes to buy sandwiches mid-stakeout and adorably orders a tuna sandwich and lemonade. I got a breakfast burrito to go, and talked to my brother on the phone while I waited; we were making plans for a summer trip wherein we're gonna take the train from L.A. to Seattle, and stop at San Francisco and Portland on the way. I ate my burrito at home with a cup of pumpkin tea and read a 1973 interview with Carly Simon and James Taylor, from a book of Rolling Stone interviews I'd bought at the Iliad the night before. I hadn't had a breakfast burrito in years, maybe; they're something I kind of left behind in my late 20s. My Great White Hut burrito was unremarkable and perfect; I shook a whole lot of Valentina hot sauce onto it and ate the whole damn thing.

Later in the afternoon I went to Sweet Rose Creamery and got a dish of candied kumquat with chocolate sprinkles. The ice cream was a dreamy vanilla and the kumquat was sugary and sour and the sprinkles were nice and chalky in that classically sprinkly sort of way. I got a cup of coffee too, and did some work (that Saturday was my 20-something-th work day in a row, uggggggghhhhh), then drove over to La Cienega to meet Tracey for the Lloyd Cole show at Largo. Oh and I stopped at Taschen to see the Rolling Stones photo exhibit, and my review is that it's beautiful but really should have happened in a dark, dank cave with both living and dead red roses everywhere and free wine at all hours. Here's a pic from the show, Mick with an apple:

Before Lloyd Cole Tracey and I went to the pho place next door. I got one of those giant bowls of vermicelli and grilled steak and carrots and cucumbers and chopped peanuts and egg rolls and felt nostalgic for getting the exact same dish at the Pho Pasteur in Harvard Square back when I lived in Boston. I haven't been to the Pho Pasteur in Harvard Square in more than a decade and I'm afraid it's nothing like what I remember: a big, beautiful room full of plants and fountains and the chairs are, like, red-velvet-upholstered thrones made of gold. Please don't tell me what it's really like; I need to keep that lovely memory.

At Lloyd Cole I got a cup of hot cocoa like a 10-year-old or maybe like someone who's given up on drinking, which I haven't, don't worry. The show was so great, just Lloyd Cole and his guitar and his sexy/melancholy brainiac lyrics. Ever since seeing him I want to listen to more and more sexy/melancholy music by people who read too many books. I've been listening to lots of early Suzanne Vega, for examps: "Marlene on the Wall" <3 <3 <3

Sunday, February 8th

LJ: Coffee and cereal for breakfast and lunch. I had a diet Red Bull around four. A few hours later I took the tube to Covent Garden. I got there an hour earlier than I needed to and killed time by drinking a half-pint of Aspalls cider at a pub I forget the name of while writing emails on my phone and reading a bit of The Sea, The Sea. It was a boring little chapter of my life. I walked over to The Hawksmoor, fifteen minutes early for my booking, and had a seat at the bar. I drank a Marmalade Cocktail that inspired me to write down some sentences about making out with Charlie Watts to the Monster Mash.

The Marmalade Cocktail looms large in my legend. Here are two excerpts from the edition of Strawberry Fields Whatever Diet I wrote when I took a solo journey to London to check out London’s goods a year and a half ago:

1) I thought I was going to take myself out for breakfast at this very fancy-looking place called Hawksmoor that I’d found on the Internet— a section of their cocktail menu is dedicated to “anti-fogmatics,” which are early-morning cocktails: what a concept! One of them is called the Marmalade Cocktail and it’s gin, Campari, lemon juice, orange bitters, and marmalade. I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and wanted to get myself one, but then I was scared of being alone in an aggressively male/aggressively rich environment with a million English businessmen in tailored grey suits, surrounded by the din of their accents, occasionally picking out business-y words like "global" and "initiative"--- and also was too hungry to wait for myself to get there.

2) I decided that while I was in the nabe I was going to walk to the Air Street Hawksmoor to drink my ear-worm of a Marmalade Cocktail and face my three-day-long fear of feeling vaguely scrappy in a predominantly grey-business-suited environment. I coached myself through my pre-Hawksmoor jitters by reminding myself that it was Saturday and way less people wear business suits on Saturdays than they do on most. But then this crazy thing happened where I walked back and forth up and down Air Street several times and Hawksmoor just WASN'T there! I guess it was like one of those alleys in Harry Potter that disappears for people who aren’t wearing business suits. So then I came up with this very beautiful idea, this very crafty and beautiful idea that the Marmalade Cocktail would now become this sacred thing for me, my Magic Other (of cocktails)— the one thing in the world that would for sure keep me coming back to London.

So it was really nice to have it finally be the day where it all had happened. I moved to London and it has been rough for me, getting on my feet and all, but things are starting to look up for me and I have been so desperately in love with London this whole desperate time and now it’s finally seeming like it loves me back a little bit! So I wanted to reward myself, and London, for getting through our rough patch, by drinking this Marmalade Cocktail of ours. And it was everything. It truly over-delivered! It was literally, literally (two literallys, to drive the point home) the Best Cocktail I've Ever had, there was nary a scary bulldog of a businessman fucking with my vibe in sight, every aspect of my dining experience was a supremely chill blast from start to finish, and I am very confident when I tell you that this night was only the beginning of my new life as a lifelong drinker of Marmalade Cocktails.

Katie, my pal who you may remember from the entry about the time I got really drunk on Monday, arrived mid-Marmalade Cocktail and also drank a Marmalade Cocktail. We sat in a really cozy little corner table and fell in crushy love with our waiter. For wine we shared a bottle of Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon; Cabernet Sauvignon is the grape I suck hardest at, so I’m trying to drink a lot of it, to get to the bottom of it. It’s so enigmatic! I just want to find a Cab Sauv that knocks me over the head with a hammer and changes everything. The Marmalade Cocktail of Cabernet Sauvignons! This was not that Cab Sauv, though it was perfectly lovely, brassy and herby. Cab Sauvs always just taste like “a glass of red wine” to me. I made that point at wine school the other day and everyone was like “We feel u” and then high-fived me and I crowd-surfed across the classroom.

For food we decided to share a Sunday roast and then get a million sides. The sides were such a sexy and distracting part of the menu. We had: creamed spinach, beef dripping fries, tenderstem broccoli, and macaroni and cheese. In England they efficiently call macaroni and cheese “macaroni cheese.” I’m generally not a huge “macaroni cheese” fan; as a rule I’d rather eat cake. But I was really craving it that night, so we ordered it and… it over-delivered! So much over-delivering, this night! The macaronis were the little shell macaronis, my favorite type. I could go the Hawksmoor every day and get an order of macaroni, an order of creamed spinach, and a Marmalade Cocktail, and I’d die happy. I really would.

We ordered dessert: I had Sticky Toffee Pudding and a glass of Tokaji. I had never eaten Sticky Toffee Pudding before but I think on some subconscious level the amount I knew that I would love it was a major motivator in my deciding to move to this country. I feel the same way about banoffee pie. The Tokaji was probably not the dream pairing of the pudding’s whole life, its treacly blackishness made the wine taste overly sunscreeny, sort of embarrassingly tropical, in the vein of a mass-produced New World Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin. But I didn’t care! Not even the Marmalade Cocktail of Cab Sauvs would have stood a chance at maintaining my interest in the midst of my eating that dessert.

After dinner we went to a pub I forget the name of and drank cheap Chilean Merlot until the bar closed down and they kicked us out.

LIZ: Oh man, I forgot to write down what I ate for breakfast today and now I can't remember. I'm gonna take a stab in the dark and guess that it was egg + veggie stir-fry and soy-milky tea. Pretty sure I went to Starbucks and the gym first thing that morning too, which means I also drank a grande iced coffee with half & half. In the afternoon I went to Priscilla's in Burbank to write and got a cherry almond scone and a coffee. Like Coffee Connection and Moby's, Priscilla's is a cutely-unimpressed-with-itself coffeehouse that I'm totally in love with. I found out about it from a 17-year-old singer/songwriter/piano player I met there for an interview last month; she was very cool and intense, she self-described as taciturn and told me how she wants to start a a Ballets Russes revival.

That night I went to Pizzanista, which is a Clash-themed pizza place downtown. It's run by a bunch of skater guys, their slogan is "Phony Pizzamania has bitten the dust." They've got this one pizza box that's the cover of Give 'Em Enough Rope but with the birds picking at pizzas instead of the dead cowboy. I've never gotten that box before which is probably a blessing - I bet I'd do something awful, like save it. So yeah, I got a slice of pizza with macaroni and cheese as the topping, and a spicy chopped salad. I brought it home and ate it with some unspecial wine and the pizza was heaven (the mac and cheese was so beautifully greasy and gloppy), but the salad was no great shakes. All the ingredients were diced up into tiny little pieces but I wanted it to be like antipasto, where the meats and cheeses are in nice big slices, all slick and oily and you eat it with your fingers. Kinda lame.

But overall Pizzanista is the best place. When I was home for Christmas I visited my bestie and her two sons, and spent some time hanging out in the basement and watching her older son Jack (age 7) play Super Mario Bros. Jack said how most of the worlds are too hard but there's one level he can make it through and that's the one he loves the most. "I love this world," Jack told me. "This world is my beauty." And that's how I feel about Pizzanista. Ridiculous pizza, wooden booths, The Clash, tall boys of boring beers, skaters everywhere, a bookshelf with about 800 back issues of Thrasher: what more could you ask for? Also, the only Clash song I've ever heard in Pizzanista is "Train in Vain," and I think that's so cute - it's just really chill that the Pizzanista dudes aren't too tough for basic Clash. Basic Clash is perfect. My favorite Clash song is "Rock the Casbah." 

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