20080424-luke.jpgThis week I learned something every astronaut has learned the hard way: Re-entry is a bitch, at least when it comes to breathing-living-eating-dieting. When I last left you, serious eaters, I was consuming quite a few pieces of some of the finest fried chicken in the land. It didn't get any easier after that in New Orleans.

Dinner that night was at Cochon, Donald Link's tribute to all things porcine that should be renamed Porktopia. The man loves pork as much as I do. It wouldn't surprise me if the tap water I drank there was infused with pork. We ate fried boudin balls, grilled pork ribs with watermelon salad, cochon (roast pig) of course, and house-made salumi, including some killer bologna and so many other pork-derived or saturated dishes that my dinner companions and I actually oinked in unison when we walked back to our hotel.

Last Meals in New Orleans

Breakfast and lunch the following day, the last two meals I was to have in New Orleans, were from Lüke, John Besh's newish restaurant that serves classic New Orleans cuisine and New Orleans–influenced German food. Mad good, but not exactly light.

Breakfast was grilled shrimp and buttery grits studded with fantastic andouille sausage, feather-light pancakes topped by berries in syrup, and just to kick it up a notch (hey, I was eating in Emeril country), a couple of big fat links of house-made pork sausage. Of course I left most of all three dishes, but the total calorie intake couldn't have been all that minimal. While there, I figured I'd order lunch to take on the plane; I grabbed a pressed cochon sandwich, which I had been eying on the menu ever since I had arrived in New Orleans. That sandwich represented my re-entry to moderation, as you're about to find out.


I ate half the cochon sandwich on the plane as I watched Juno for the second time (don't you just love flying Jet Blue?). It tasted like a killer Cuban sandwich that had taken a wrong turn. I was going to eat the other half when I arrived in New York.

That's What Friends Are For

Luckily I ran into my old friend Nelson, who was about to fly to New Orleans to celebrate his 50th birthday in grand style with a couple of old friends. After chatting with him for a few minutes, we said our goodbyes and I headed for the train into Manhattan. I wandered down the concourse for a minute or so until I remembered that I still had half a cochon sandwich in my possession, a veritable ticking time bomb that, should it go off, would have unnecessarily delayed my diet re-entry.

I ran back to Nelson's gate desperately hoping on hope that he hadn't boarded yet. I spotted him chatting on his cellphone. I threw him the sandwich. "Happy birthday, Nelson," I said. "This sandwich totally rocks. You will enjoy it."

Ritualistic Overeating Ahead

This seemingly kind act of generosity was really just a way for me to get back on the dieting horse, to re-enter the weight-reduction atmosphere. I was facing a weekend of three--count 'em, three--seders, which are in and of themselves excuses for Jews and their friends to ritualistically overeat.

The seders themselves actually weren't that difficult to navigate. I focused on the matzo, my wife's fabulous haroset, and the matzo-ball soup. I limited my brisket intake and, for dessert, ate some fruit and meringues (also my wife's, and equally extraordinary).

Of course, with all that food swirling around me, I can't be sure that I had safely re-entered the dietsphere. So I am approaching my weigh-in with some trepidation.

Down a pound. My re-entry was successful. The astronauts have nothing on me.


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