Along with many neighbors and friends, I’m on the Pepco Diet. We go on it about twice a year, whenever the power goes out.
The Pepco Diet varies in length — three days, a week, sometimes 10 days, just like other fad diets. Here is the basic meal plan.
Day One: First Meal
Ice Cream. As much as you can eat. Comparable freezer products are allowed: Popsicles, fudgesicles, leftover ice-cream cake.
Day One: Second Meal
Peanut butter on crackers; other dry foods in the cupboard. Warm beer. Red wine. This phase could be called, “Do NOT open the refrigerator door.” Repeat whenever hungry in the first days of the Pepco Diet, before freezer desperation sets in (see below).
Day Two: First Meal
Breakfast cereal, either dry, for the refrigerator-door purists, or with milk extracted from the refrigerator in .05 seconds.
Alternative: If transportation is possible (often not, on the Pepco Diet), send a team member to the nearest functioning Starbucks for lattes and a side order of milk for cereal. When this works, it’s like having your cake and eating it, too.
Day Two: Main Meal
Half-frozen fish and skinless boneless chicken fillets, grilled on an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. These fillets, probably the thinnest of your frozen meat items, defrost the fastest and need to be cooked first. Remember, speed counts when opening the freezer door. Plan carefully, assemble a small crowd, then open that door and move fast.
Day Three: The Desperation Meal
As with any diet, Day Three is when reality hits. On the Pepco Diet, this is the day you realize that everything left in your freezer will go bad unless you eat it. Right now. This meal can be coordinated with neighbors and friends. People enter into pacts: We will eat everything in your freezer today if you do the same for us tomorrow. The principal benefit? Only one freezer door gets opened each day.
The grill during the Desperation Meal resembles rush hour at an upscale diner, powered by a giddy cook. Here, some hamburgers; there, Omaha Steaks; across the middle, one of those tenderloin things from Costco you were saving for a special occasion (not this one). If you planned well, the chicken and fish are already gone; if not, you’ll call them the first course. The cook, exhausted by either excessive heat or excessive cold, is inordinately pleased to have something positive to do. As the steaks sizzle, and the survival stories are swapped, the eating takes place in earnest.
These are the basics. As with any diet, they are so intuitive they barely need to be written down. Basic diet truth: People lose weight when they eat less. Basic truth of the Pepco Diet: If a tree falls in Bethesda, you’ll soon be eating ice cream.