Eating Spinach Makes You Strong to the Finish
It's summertime in Phoenix, meaning the streets are as deserted as a Wisconsin cul-de-sac in December. We're all inside, watching TV. I've been watching a lot of animated movies — my Blockbuster account is full of them: Madagascar, Chicken Run, Monsters, Inc.
I've also settled into watching a lot of old Popeye cartoons on YouTube. I love the vintage animation and the oddball characters, like the hamburger guy, Olive Oyl, and Brutus. Some of the Scottsdale bars I've frequented come to mind, loaded with a bunch of dumbass Brutus types and girls who are skinnier than Olive Oyl.
I love Popeye. He is a superhero, but he can't fly and he doesn't have a cape. He's just an old, balding, tattoo-sportin', pipe-smoking guy with a short temper.
In short, Popeye is my kind of superhero! And he gains his supernatural powers from eating spinach; he is one of the earliest health-food nuts.
And so, I've decided to try it the Popeye way. I even went as far as smoking a pipe. Really, I am getting into shape and eating better. Well, eating sweeter anyway; I've developed a serious little addiction to chocolate. Because I'm eating sweets at night, I turn to salads and greens and other healthful Popeye stuff during the day to rationalize my indulgence.
Let's just say I could use a shot of superpowers right about now. I recently moved way out into the desert to spend some time alone — let me tell you, this self-imposed exile from dating and being single is a hard-fought decision! I wonder how many losers rationalize being lonely by telling themselves they are alone by choice. In other words, I guess I'm saying I couldn't get laid in a morgue right now.
But that doesn't mean I don't have a Spooning story for you — and one about spinach, at that. I'll dig into the archives and tell you about a woman I was with a few years back. She was a neat freak and a super-healthy woman. I'm telling you, the healthy, freaky chicks also have a freaky-strong sex drive. But beware — with the health and kinky sex come the narcissism, the low self-esteem, and the control issues. I'm just sayin'. She was one of those people who try to "change" you. You know, the type that makes you realize you're a "fixer-upper." I should have realized it when I was given a pair of running shoes as a present. (Bitch.)
I made the decision to not give in to her crazy exercise regimen, but I did try her diet. Soon after we started dating, she began cooking spinach with everything we ate. With chicken . . . sautéed spinach. With steak . . . spinach. With pork . . . spinach. With soup, corn, you name it . . . spinach. I thought I'd get sick of it, but I never did.
It was simple; she'd take a bag of spinach and throw it in a big pan with a touch of olive oil, some garlic, and a drop or two of sesame oil, put on the lid and then sauté. It was wonderful every single time. The healthy taste paired well with everything we ate, and it just made you feel healthier.
(Side note: This woman was divorced, with kids. She always wanted to have sex, including on the nights she had the kids at the house. I would refuse because: a) I'm stupid, and b) our room was next to the kids' room. Instead, I'd suggest having sex in the garage. I figure she'd get her workout and I wouldn't scar the kids for the rest of their lives. She'd freak out, yelling that I was a jerk and that it's dirty and gross in the garage. For the record, if your girlfriend or wife won't spread out on a workbench or on the hood of a Ford, then break it off — no matter how well she sautés your greens.)
I was in over my head dating this healthy chick, but she did teach me how to prepare spinach. She taught me some other things, too, like that having a healthy mind and healthy body are two totally different things; one doesn't necessarily guarantee the other.
What I can tell you is this — after eating a ton of spinach over a year's time with a sex freak, I found that spinach has some superpowers of its own. I now know definitively that Popeye was right: "I'm strong to the finish 'cause I eats me spinach." Toot, toot!
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.