If you are what you eat, I’m in trouble. For some reason now that I’m turning 60, I feel compelled to come out of the pantry and admit that I have some disgusting food habits. Oh, I eat too much – but that’s a minor offense against health compared to some of the cholesterol-raising, artery-clogging food items and dietary combinations in which I have indulged.
Why the sudden confession? Maybe it has something to do with recent media reports about fast food chains being taken to task for causing eating disorders such as obesity – claims that are, in my opinion, baloney. My dysfunctional relationship with food started in my childhood, long before golden arches popped up across North America.
I remember when my mother plopped my first fried baloney sandwich in front of me. Baloney. Fried. Doesn’t it make you want to gag? Honestly, it tastes great. I savoured that salty, not-quite-meat taste – but I ate Spam in those days, too, so what did I know?
The cast iron frying pan got a lot of use in my childhood home. The morning after we had spaghetti, Mom would often fry the leftover pasta for breakfast. Scoff if you will, but it tasted fabulous to me – and when times were tough, it filled empty stomachs.
There are other childhood discoveries I made. While my friends were out playing softball or riding bikes, I devoted myself to artistic pursuits like perfecting the art of the sandwich. You know, to get the amount of cold cuts, lettuce, cheese and complementary items such as pickles just right. To get the mayo spread to the edges of the bread and the ingredients in the correct positions so that nothing would fall out of the concoction when I cut it from corner to corner and raised it to my watering mouth. And did you know that potato chips are fantastic layered in among sliced ham and lettuce?
Here’s another trick I learned as a kid. Once you have achieved the perfect sandwich, make yourself some tomato soup, and dunk the edge of the hand-held meal before taking each bite. That ritual became a tradition in our family, and is one I hope will be carried on for generations to come.
One of my friends told me about a tradition in her family. The day after Christmas, she and her folks would make stuffing sandwiches. As she says, “Bread on bread – can you believe it?” Yes, I can. These were all daily practices back in the olden days before we ever heard anyone say, “You want fries with that?”
So for goodness sake, stop blaming fast food chains for our lack of self-discipline. We’ve had unhealthy food around from the first time someone sliced a potato too thin and dropped it into a vat of hot oil.
When you think about it, the whole issue of obesity is really an argument against Darwinism. If we were guided by some sort of “survival of the fittest” anthropological drive, then why don’t we all crave carrots and celery?
Too far-fetched? Well, at least I earned my reputation as being full of baloney.