I just Googled “peanut butter addiction.” Yes, that’s right. I have a problem.
A couple of weeks ago, after polishing off yet another jar of the stuff (with a spoon, as usual), I decided to institute a strict Jar-Of-The-Month Nut Butter Initiative. What does this mean? At the beginning of each month, I am entitled (yes, entitled) to one jar of nut butter for the next four week’s enjoyment. Once the jar is eaten (read: has vanished without a trace), there will be no more nut buttering until the crowning of a new month. Pretty straightforward and, not to mention, pretty generous. To give you some context for this kind of decision making: a couple months back, after housing a box of (peanut butter-flavored) granola bars and a six-pack of bananas, I decided I was addicted to sugar and sweeteners; in response, I cut sugar and sweeteners out of my diet cold turkey — and I haven’t looked back since. It was a good break-up — a smart one. And I’ve never ever felt healthier or happier than I do now.
But say good-bye to peanut butter and almond butter and cashew butter and sunflower seed butter? No, impossible. They’re too wonderful. They make me too happy. And there are so many varieties I haven’t tried yet — in fact, I spied a jar of walnut butter just the other day and had to do a double take. (Be still my heart. I’ll be back for you, Baby.)In general, I eat a lot of nuts and seeds, and they’re all delicious and important to me, each in their own way. But there’s nothing that does it for me quite like the thick, gloppy, mucilaginous paste of a stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth peanut butter. I’m talking can’t-talk-because-your-mouth-is-too-full-of-peanut-butter levels of peanut butter. The greater the encumbrance, the greater my happiness.
When I was a kid, I “opted out” of a lot of foods that were, I suppose, “typical fare” for a child. I wasn’t necessarily a picky eater — I loved all the weird vegetables that little kids typically furl their brows at: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, you name it — but I also knew what I liked and what I didn’t like. And, for starters, I didn’t much like lunch meat. Turkey, ham, roast beef, bologna. I wasn’t into them. I didn’t get why they were all so cold and slimy. Meat was supposed to be warm and winsome, wasn’t it? Wholesome. Unctuous. Edible? And so, almost every single morning of my elementary school education, I packed myself a peanut butter sandwich.
Peanut butter on bread. It’s a simple affair. It’s a different horse from peanut butter and jelly, and also quite different from its close cousin, peanut butter toast. It’s its own thing, and I loved it. My mother’s refusal to pack it (or anything else) on my behalf (with the intention of encouraging my independent choices — edible and otherwise) only increased my reverence for it. While all my friends were sifting through their unicorned Lisa Frank lunch pails, failing to find a common ground between what they hoped their parents had packed for them and what their parents had actually packed, I never suffered such a breach of lunchtime happiness. The peanut butter sandwich was always there. It was my bedrock. Thanks, Mom.Not even two weeks into March, I finished a jar of almond butter — per my new initiative, my one jar of nut butter for the month. About two days later, I went to Whole Foods. I just so happened to walk past the peanut butter section — which, at Whole Foods, is a noble parade of pomp and circumstance — where I spied a man cranking honey-roasted peanut butter from the fresh-press machine. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. Could not. Walk away. When he was done, I put just a little bit of almond butter into a plastic bin. Then just a touch more… At home, I took of the cup and drank from it (so to speak). And then, when I went out later to run more errands, I bought myself a jar of crunchy peanut Once Again. And now it too has suffered the same fate as its fallen brethren.
I pride myself on being an extraordinarily disciplined person. I make decisions about things and then I stick to those decisions. And it’s usually so easy for me. But I think I’m reconsidering my Jar-Of-The-Month Nut Butter Initiative on the grounds that it is an injustice and a happiness embargo. I know that I could stand to cut back. Saturated fat, blah blah blah. But, for me, there’s just something so affecting about peanut butter. My love for the stuff is just too special and big-hearted to put a limit on it in any Draconian sense.