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Gymnauseum

Look at him, stalking all stalkingly.

It wouldn’t matter if I were sitting in the leprosy section of a one-star deli in Qatar, and a gentle sand breeze rolls my falafel off the table, into the jowls of an ill-tempered rhesus monkey armed with a rusty knife… I will fight that macaque to recover my chickpea ball, brush it gently on my hijab and then eat it. I don’t even care if I fail to do this within the five-second rule, either: The monkey and I can go tooth and shiv all day, while our deep-fried prize bakes in the Arab sun. I will still be the victor, and to me will go the still-edible spoils.

The point of this random fiction? I’m not a germaphobe. Having said that… holy shit, gymnasiums give me the bacterial willies. Let me back up a bit: This week, my Dentyne-sized friend, Autumn, has started working full time again (after some medical shenanigans), and is now dragging my rotund ass to the gym on our lunch break. After our first workout, she teased me about how much of a prissy diva I was—how nothing was clean enough for my fragile psyche. Whereas I would normally turn a non-confrontational cheek at such playful criticism, I must stand by my objection. Let’s break it down into components:

First, there’s getting changed. If you’re a man reading this, and have ever wondered about the naked pillow fights that clandestinely break out in women’s locker rooms, let me assuage your curiosity: it’s all true. Problem is, the only immodest contenders are old enough to have done alterations with Betsy Ross—and, oh, do they love to socialize. Look, I adore old folks, and hope to be one myself someday, but towel-up, ladies. I don’t need your dilapidated naughty bits to accidentally graze me. Again.

Then there’s the gym portion of the gym, where meatheads in wife beaters two sizes too small, with necks two sizes too thick, grunt and scream as if recording the audio book for Stoney and the Great Passage of Urethra. But ignoring all that is as simple as using ear buds. What is less forgivable is the pool of jock filth they leave in their wake and waft. How a towel was deemed to be an adequate absorber for such fungal man-leavings is anybody’s guess. More to the point, how have gym-employed bus boys not been invented yet? If restaurants see it necessary to chemically purge a table after every meal—even though food is already served on sanitized plating—how could a light brushing of drenched upholstery be compliant with health codes, at either a state or common sense level? Even the butcher paper a doctor rolls out for you would be progress.

I’ll take my chances with the monkey.

I already feel like I need a shower—which brings us to the closing act of the workout experience. Women, I know how fun it is to make hair art in the shower at home. I know the delights of gathering all the loose strands that have clung to the tile, rotary phoning them into clumps and giving each one a name and backstory. But… do you really need to share your masterpieces publicly? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just an artless rube. Maybe I should just be grateful for the free toe rings. Shudder.

Of course, I wouldn’t have to endure any of this if I didn’t make such deliciously fattening shit like this:

Savory Ricotta Cheesecake

Bad picture—I was fighting the crowd at work to take it.

Crust

  • 6 oz Italian truffle cheese (this is available at Trader Joe’s)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 4 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

The inspiration for this crust came after I made homemade Cheez-Its. Preheat oven to 350˚. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until they form a ball. Press into the bottom of a springform pan and prick several times with a fork. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly before filling.

Filling

Slightly better picture.

  • 30 oz ricotta cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp truffle oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper

Combine ricotta and eggs until blended. Saute shallots, garlic and thyme in truffle and olive oils until just cooked. Fold into ricotta mixture along with salt and pepper. Pour over crust and bake for 50–60 minutes, until a knife stuck in the center comes out clean.

Topping

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups oil packed sun-dried tomatoes

Drain tomatoes of most of the oil they are packed in. Place in a mini-food processor and chop until finely minced. Spread over the top of still warm cheesecake. Place on cooling rack. Once cooled, run a sharp knife around the edge of pan and then flip the springform latch. It can be served immediately or chilled overnight. I made this for the gang at work and it was a big hit.

Whaddya know? I’m once again using the space down here to apologize for everything above. This time, I want it understood that I’m writing from a place of catharsis, not superiority. What the hell do I have to be superior about when it comes to the gym? I’m forty and grotesquely out of shape (although I submit oval is most definitely a shape), so avoiding the gym is no longer an option for combating my sagging sogginess. Someone remind me why I gave up the metabolic goodness of smoking?

TWTG says, “I just want to be filled with a bathroom to pee in.”

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23 responses »

  1. That hair picture makes me want to throw up. But then the cheesecake pictures make me want to eat until I throw up.Oh the conundrum!

    Reply
  2. I’ll never go to a gym again…but then I wasn’t planning to prior to reading this…but you have clenched the deal!

    Reply
  3. There is one guy in our gym who insists on standing far too close to one and whispering his conversation. This usually done while buck naked. Very distressing stuff. Still, I have to do it to allow the food side of things to continue. Love the cake.
    Best,
    Conor

    Reply
  4. This was hilarious! I’m so happy I never got to eat this before I went dairy-free because I would be weeping uncontrollably every day missing it. It looks amazing.

    Reply
  5. That ricotta cheesecake looks deliciously evil. And I laughed out loud at your line, “Oval is most definitely a shape.” I feel your pain.

    Reply
  6. OK, as a self-professed gym rat, I love this post. I dunk my entire body in hand sanitizer after leaving the gym, and can pretty much guarantee that any germ that enters my system comes not from my three lovely ankle-biters, but from the safety bar on the stair master.
    Awesome work TWTG!

    Reply
    • I can tell you go to the gym from your full length picture with your ankle biters. You have a rockin’ bod. There was a guy on the treadmill Monday who was soaked in sweat from shoulder to ass and he didn’t bother to even attempt to wipe down the machine that was covered in his nasty bodily fluids. I wanted to slap him. GROSS!!!

      Reply
  7. Wine is a gateway drug to a bar of cheese & an entire can of anchovy stuffed olives! See you at the gym on Monday! 😉

    Reply
  8. Man that looks good! Mmmmmm mmm

    Reply
  9. Pingback: The Grind « The White Trash Gourmet

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