Miller Time
The Grady Diet
By Grady Miller
Nov 25, 2007 - 10:21:48 PM

The Grady Diet (Part 1 of 2)

       Twelve years ago I was chosen to play the lead sociopath in an independent movie, being shot in Memphis, TN, and in the months before the cameras rolled, the director casually suggested that I put on some weight.  His wish was my command, and that was the inception of the Grady All-Beer Diet.

        This diet that be summed up in two easy to remember words: anything goes.  And it had pedigree, for it was established in emulation of that chameleon-like method actor, Robert DeNiro, who transformed himself for every role, especially for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull, where he chose to put on real pounds instead of a fat suit.

        DeNiro had Italy, and the villages of Tuscany to roam, for his all-pasta diet during a break in Raging Bull.  I had Mexico, for my all-beer diet.  This country is every bit Italy's peer when it comes to rib-sticking delicacies and kaleidoscopic flavor.  With devotion proper for an artistic creation, I ate everything I liked for two months, and with each mouthful and gulp of beer I was sculpting my character.  In the morning it was eggs with chorizo or with bits of fried tortilla, sweet bread, conchas, pigs, and flaky orejas wolfed down with acrid draughts of Nescafe.  (Admittedly, prejudices about boozing before noon kept me from quaffing beer at breakfast.)  For lunch, tortas ahogadas that left my mouth on fire, and a nice Pacifico or Estrella put out the fire.  In the evening, roasted chicken, lots of Kraft macaroni and cheese slathered in dairy butter — all accompanied by potato chips and up to two caguamas — the  equivalent of two 32 ounce of Mexican beer. 

        Gradually, I had to let my belt loops out, and strained the seams of my shirts.  I accomplished this dietary feat by becoming the character I was playing.  In a profound way, I became Larry Cartwright, prevaricating, beer-swilling, charming con-artist.  And Larry would never have given two hoots in a hollow about what he ate.  He was the kind of guy to make goats look like picky eaters.

        Filming progressed at a workmanlike pace throughout summer.  Then, as fall turned the foliage to brown in Overton Park, the movie's main locale, filming suspended for eight months.  During this hiatus I could strictly adhere to the Grady Diet, for the sake of continuity.

        To be truthful, the Grady Diet could be termed the all-bread diet.  German monks considered it liquid bread and in ancient times brewed it as a supplement in times of fast.  Mexico has a staggering assortment of bread, and a special kind is baked for most holidays.  Day of the Dead boasts pan de muertos, which resembles a sugar-frosted, dough version of San Onofre nuclear generating plants.

After the humongous Christmas repasts and posadas, even Three Kings Day on January 6 features a wreath-shaped sugar-frosted bread, crossed by red and green strips of jelly, that contains a fingernail-sized doll and according to tradition, whoever gets the doll in their piece, is obligated to host a party on Candlemas, February 2 (a.k.a. Groundhog Day).  At Easter time appears capirotada, a Lenten bread pudding combining cheese, brown sugar, and French bread.

        All these remarkable breads helped contribute 20 or 30 pounds, according to the occasional drug store scale.  (That is one of the prominent features of the Grady diet: whether you are gaining or losing, it is far better to have no scale or other weight-measuring device (i.e. a scale) in your domicile.)   

        My biggest thrill, after the long journey from Mexico to Memphis, was loping into the house of the director, after eight months of hiatus, and hearing the first words out of his mouth, "Perfect continuity."






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