It’s happening. The Halloween deluge of candy has been going on for a week now. Everywhere I look I see candy. Luckily for me I’m a chocolate kind of guy, and that stuff is hoarded.
Occasionally there’s a basket of Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups with mini Hershey’s chocolates, but mostly it’s those orange fake-pumpkin baskets full of Sweet Tarts, sour balls and gross lollipops. I don’t know why anyone likes those. They always taste dirty to me. See’s Candy makes good lollipops, but those are hidden like gold usually.
I’m lucky in that as much of a sugar fiend as I am, I’m picky. I’m not addicted to it in most of the horrid forms that are doled out this time of year.
When it comes to sugary love, I want things like the cupcakes at Vanilla Bake Shop. Love those. I walk past them every Friday night, and usually manage to blow right by and not give in to the craving for a mini red velvet cupcake or anything coconut flavored.
Dessert is an earned treat for me. I don’t indulge as often as I’d like, but I love seeing the dessert trays. It’s a visual delight to see the pastries that are crafted by artisans in the early morning hours of a restaurant. For my birthday my brother took me to the new Del Frisco’s Grille on Ocean Avenue. The birthday cake they brought out was a tremendous coconut cake. Covered in white chocolate shavings, it was a sight to behold.
Growing up, my mother was a good cook, but her idea of a pastry involved opening a box from the Van de Kamp Bakery. She never learned baking from her mother, and so I didn’t learn it from her. When I was in law school, I worked for a restaurant consulting firm. I was in and out of many troubled restaurants. I learned a huge amount about the industry and about cooking in general, but I was always drawn to the pastry chefs. I think it’s because they were doing the things that my mother never taught me.
For me, baking and confections are an exercise in artistry that I rarely get to engage in, which is a good thing. Otherwise God only knows how large I’d be. That is why this time of year is problematic. There is candy everywhere. Most of it is this mass produced junk that is designed for children because they have no discernment. As the parties happen, it’s easy to just mindlessly see a small bag of Reese’s Pieces and pop them in the mouth and then, if you’re like me, justify it with “there’s peanut butter in these; that’s healthy protein.” Yeah, not so much.
It’s easy to be out with friends and to “celebrate” we’ll share a dessert, except those are extra empty calories that I don’t need. I can overeat all on my own, thank you, I don’t need you to offer me an excuse or a justification. I’m a divorce lawyer, I am an expert in creating excuses, minimizing, and justifying.
My one saving grace is that I’m a chocoholic, which I used to fall back on as a way to keep the bags of Sweet Tarts, candy corn and Jawbreakers at bay. It’s one of those excuses that I tell myself to limit the bad calories I take in.
Thankfully fettuccine alfredo at Vito’s, a meatball pizza at Bruno’s and the lamb over linguine at Fritto Misto are all “healthy calories” because they have a nutritional value. I justify it by the fact that I get a great Caesar salad at Bruno’s and Vito’s. At Fritto Misto I go for the greens and gorgonzola; it’s the boss call there.
Am I justifying too much? Oh well, it’s the holidays.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra