Why Dr. Oz Ain't No Dago

Is the joy of celebrating food healthy?

“I just do not celebrate food!” said Dr. Oz in People Magazine’s “Healthiest Man Alive” story.   

A look into Dr Oz’s kitchen shows all of the food that I truly do love to eat: tons of green veggies, seeds, nuts, almond and soy milks, and fruits. But as a die-hard Dago, I simply cannot go as far as Dr. Oz goes in his commitment to live a life without celebrating food. 

In fact, I can think of many occasions where celebrating food has saved my life.  Or at least my sanity. 

Some days I think I am going nuts from one too many episodes of Spongebob on the TV. Other days I feel like the rest of the world is out there taking a bite out of life while I sit at home moving dust from one corner of the house to the other.  And there are times when I’m just too hormonal to be positive and count my blessings.   

On those days, my kitchen and the simple pleasures of chopping and sauteeing bring me out of the depths and into the high life again. Seeing the colors and feeling the textures of foods while I cook is like having the tools of an artist in my hands. Through the creation of glorious meals, I feel a renewal, a celebration of life, an appreciation of the smallest pleasure. Afterward, I have a little work of art to enjoy, whether I sit down by myself and enjoy the seasonal colors of a beautiful salad or I proudly plop a giant bowl of pasta down in the center of our family table for us all to enjoy. 

And boy do I celebrate when I am done cooking. I have so many photos of these self proclaimed masterpieces that a glance through my Mac photo collection is an embarrassing 60/40 split between family and food. I have thrown together hundreds of pasta parties.  

Life often feels like it is teetering between equal measures of negative and positive.  When the needle is just about to dive and send me down a slippery slope, the joy that comes from celebrating food sends the scales careening toward a hallelujia. My spirit is lifted, my mood is changed, and suddenly life seems not only bearable, but delightful again. Until the next time the dark clouds appear. Thank God for the glorious celebration of food we share with others or in simple solitude.   

So while I do admire and love to take notes from good old Dr. Oz, I’m afraid we will have to part ways on the celebration of food. Yes, I may have a bit of a harder time fitting into my jeans, but my blood pressure is very, very low. I wonder if part of the reason for that is the joy I get from celebrating food. Most Italians would agree I'm sure.

How’s that for healthy?

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Sol Fiske June 21, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Renee this is no better than an African-American dropping an n-bomb. It's offensive no matter who says it, and no matter if they are talking about themselves. It seems to be part of a troubling downward spiral of the dumbing down of our society. I would like to laugh it off as you (and a few others) are, but as you're involved in media, with many more people seeing your work, a higher standard of conduct is appropriate. (By the way, despite my last name, I am Sicilian, so no one can tell me I don't "get" it.)
Renee Gough June 22, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Haha! Good one, Lawrence. Ya know, dago is a funny word. My Italian girlfriends and I always use it in conversation, especially when trying to determine if someone knows how to cook as well as we do. "Is she a dago?" If the answer is yes then, "ooooh! got it!" I guess it's like most slang terms that started off one way and came to be socially acceptable. Only the person with that particular nationality can decide for oneself. As for the "pollack" term, Susan, I get to use that one too! My dad is from Italy (moved here in his 20's) and my mom is half Polish/half Italian. If you are offended by any of these terms I can only say...get off the computer and go for a nice walk in the sunshine! It's a beautiful day!
Renee Gough June 22, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Hi Sol. Grazie for writing. I will have to agree to disagree with you on this one! Ciao and buona fortuna!
Laura Hamilton June 23, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Bravo, Renee, on a well done article which once again inspires me to create something (anything really!) as a therapeutic coping tool for this crazy paced life we all live. My motivation and creativity falters lately more and more....bless you! As for terminology and background, I suppose I would be classified as a WASP or a MUTT (neither I find flattering if I direct it to others but certainly alright to use on myself and circle of misfits).....i do applaud knowing there are still folks out there who care enough about other people's feelings to reach out, but context and intent is worth a hearty look before judgement. Again, Ms. Gough, nice article!
Renee Gough June 23, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Thanks for the lovely comments, Laura! Your kindness refreshes this aging broad. :)


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