THE SMALL PLEASURES IN LIFE LOOM LARGE WHILE ROME BURNS
One of the things we residents of this CCRC have lost in the quarantine is much of the choice we enjoyed and for which most of us moved here.
The staff and management are doing their best, within their capabilities, and under the auspices of California and Yolo County directives.
But the result has been an almost complete lack of being able to make our OWN choices in a timely manner.
They have brought back a small opening of the dining facilities
From having dinner delivered in a plastic bag in takeout containers every night for over two months now (and we are grateful to have been fed), they gave us three options:
- the dining room, with appropriate distancing, and no one but the inhabitants of each apartment at any table (so, couples or singles alone at each table), and the staff will bring selections from the buffet – no more serving yourself
- a continuation of delivery, where they will give you the first of the buffet selections (unless you have registered a restriction – I don’t eat fish or lamb, for example, so they will bring me chicken on those nights where for some unfathomable reason fish and lamb are always coupled on the menu)
- La Brisa, our more relaxed dining venue, will now take orders on the phone (from an extremely limited menu), and let residents themselves come down 15 minutes later to pick up a paper bag (at a table that looks like it’s a field hospital) with the meal and take it to their apartment to eat
So what does this have to do with strawberries and choice?
This place has never managed a proper low-carb dessert for me.
The options on the menu, butter pecan ice cream (I hate butter pecan – soggy pecans), carrot cake (quite good), and a chocolate cake (also good), and occasionally a NSA (not National Security Agency – No Sugar Added) brownie, sometimes an NSA pie (loaded with carbs, but no sugar in the filling), but never a cookie or a pastry or anything special like that, ARE ALL SWEETENED WITH SUGAR ALCOHOLS.
Here is the ice cream label (note the warning for ‘Sensitive Individuals,’ of which I’ve never really thought I was one):
Maltitol syrup, polydextrose, and sorbitol are the culprits, and maltitol syrup is the cheapest – and most reactive – of the sugar alcohols, and the most likely to make me have horrible gastric effects. I spare you the details. I never consumed more than ONE serving a couple of times a week.
And the dining room has never had a label on these products.
Anyway, it means I can’t trust them to give me a dessert I can eat
So I make my own using almond flour (very low in carbs, especially compared to wheat flour – and rather expensive, since it is just ground up almonds), Splenda (sucralose I tolerate, though it’s never as sweet as it’s supposed to be), real cream, cream cheese, butter, and flax meal.
I made a cookie-like base (hidden under the pile), which actually tasted almost as good as a graham-cracker crust. On top of that I put a cream cheese/cream mixture with aspartame and Splenda and vanilla. And on top of that, a nice layer of one of the lowest-in-carbs fruits, strawberries.
It was delicious!
Takes a while to put it all together
So I’m going to have to find a source of commercial desserts which use sweeteners I tolerate, but the problem there is freezer space: we are at capacity and anything frozen would take up a lot of space.
So, no good options, but I can at least, when I’m willing to put in a half hour, come up with something I wouldn’t be ashamed to serve Julia Child (if she couldn’t eat sugar).
And beautiful besides – not just sweet.
The bottom line
I pay just as much money here every month as every other resident – only I don’t get what I need in the food department. Something needs to change.
And of course right now we’re all just happy that they’re still dealing with food and dinner in general, because though the option exists all the time to get your own ingredients and do your own cooking, it is one of the hassles we came here to give up.
Small pleasures can make dealing with the much larger issues of pandemic and police and protests we are facing – from lockdown – a little easier on the mind.
When I feel I’m focusing on something petty, I remember everybody else here gets a different delicious dessert every night – without ANY effort on their part.