It’s my birthday and I’ll eat what I want to,

Eat what I want to,

Eat what I want to.

You’d eat Doritos too, if this happened to you.

My birthday is in fact today. Not surprisingly, every year since 1967 when I arrived as a strapping young lady (9 pounds, 14 ounces) in a small hospital in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, it’s fallen on December 27.  That’s just two days after Christmas dinner and a mere six days before the biggest diet-starting day of the year — January 2, when my healthier eating New Year’s resolution typically gets resurrected annually. I “could” right the ship a few days early, of course. But more years than not (and especially during pandemic years), I go for the continued decadence: a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, a package of strawberry Twizzlers, and a rye whiskey Old Fashioned on the rocks chaser.

I’ve been writing about sustainable eating habits long enough, 10 years now, so I know that I could easily green wash these indulgences.

Birthdays come just once a year. That’s her excuse. Photo by Owen Rudalevige

For example, did you know that Doritos started out as a food waste reduction effort? As legend has it, Doritos’ parent company, Frito-Lay, operated a Mexican-style restaurant called Casa de Fritos inside the Frontierland section of Disneyland starting in the late 1950s. When a salesman from Alex Foods, a local tortilla factory, noticed Casa de Fritos staff throwing away stale tortillas, he suggested they fry them for chips instead. When a Frito-Lay marketing executive tasted them, he convinced the company to start selling the now famous triangle chips nationally in 1966. Yes, folks, I am almost as old as Doritos.

I could also tell you that the Twizzlers are in the house because I cut the ends off and use them as a substitute for single-use plastic straws.  But that would be a lie. They are in the house because they are my one true high-fructose corn syrup, artificially flavored comfort food.

And while I routinely make my favorite cocktail with New England Distilling’s Gunpowder Rye because it is one of my favorites too, I fly the Luxardo maraschino cherries in the glass in from Italy instead of candying my own from a more local source.

As environmentally unsustainable as these treats are, I make no apologies. Eating sustainably day in, day out takes a level of commitment that can be better maintained with an occasional day off. Happy Birthday to me.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, recipe developer, tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at: [email protected]

A Black Walnut Rye Old-Fashioned Photo by Owen Rudalevige

Black Walnut Rye Old-Fashioned

My dad and I have a thing about the Old Fashioned. He offers me one every time I visit him and I rarely refuse. He’s old school: classic bourbon, classic bitters, and classic unnaturally bright red maraschino cherries. Here is the one I make with some of my favorite ingredients that buck my mostly “eat local” mantra. The black walnut bitters are from California but are sold online through Vena’s Fizz House, which recently closed its Portland store but is still operating its warehouse in Westbrook.

Makes 1 drink

3 ounces rye whiskey
½ ounce amaro
½ ounce clementine juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 dashes of Black Walnut Bitters
2 Luxardo cocktail cherries
1 clementine twist

Combine rye, amaro, clementine juice, maple syrup and bitters in a rocks class. Add ice and garnish with cherries and the twist.


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