Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Eat Lard with a Side of Bacon and Like It!

Let's start this out with some stats, I could probably lose 15 pounds yet I weigh about 75 pounds more than I did 8 years ago. My cholesterol is a solid 139, I have a normal blood pressure. I'm about as healthy as someone who has been to a gym less than 10 times in his life can be. So I may be a bit biased as I write this because I don't really have to worry about it.

When I first found the list of 20 worst foods of 2009 I knew I was going to write about it. But I didn't have a good hook on it. My thoughts kept going to the solid point that you shouldn't eat at Chili's. And that is a solid point, Chili's sucks. But I didn't have much more than that. Then I started to think about all those foodie blogs with their high and mighty tones about foods that list every ingredient in their titles like a mango infused margarita marinated chicken with lime cilantro rice which does sound good. But, I'm not going to eat something like for lunch. Every day. Are you?

So this list started to annoy me a little bit. Kind of this paternalistic why would you eat Stacked and Stuffed Caramel Banana Pecan Hotcakes. My question would be why wouldn't you want to eat Stacked and Stuffed Caramel Banana Pecan Hotcakes even though it does actually list all of the ingredients in its title? The list includes several items, as Fat City pointed out, that list nutritional info prominently in the store. So what's the problem? Surely we can mix in some mango infused margarita marinated chicken with lime cilantro rice with a Macaroni Grill Primo Chicken Parmesan. You can't eat at Michael Smith's or 1924 Main everyday.

Every once in a while it's comforting to blow your daily calorie count if you even care. You want to eat what tastes good and I don't care how refined my taste gets, I'm going to enjoy some extra crumbs from Long John Silvers every once in a while. That's why these lists piss me off, because they take some of the enjoyment out of eating something that tastes good.

Let's take the chain food out of it. Stella and I went to Mama's a couple of weeks ago. I got the deep fried french toast. I know that it wasn't the healthiest meal in the world, but it was damn tasty. If Mama's was a national chain that french toast would be on this list. But because it's local and beloved it escapes any kind of wrath, in fact, it's a bit like Ricky Vaughn who didn't do anything good, he just did it colorfully.

What this list has done is enable all high and mighty food bloggers and foodies to look down their noses and scold us for eating bad food that is bad for us. And it's easy to make fun of Chili's (which sucks btw) and the like. But it's pretty hard to turn down a Smokehouse Bacon Triple-The-Cheese Big Mouth Burger with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing when offered. I saw Chimpotle eat something called the Widowmaker at ChefBurger. It's called the widowmaker because it's bad for you and, incidentally, dangerous for bystanders. It's got a friggin' fried egg on it. There is no way in the world it is better for you than the SBTTCBMBwJRD from Chili's, but the foodie would celebrate the widowmaker and insult the SBTTCBMBwJRD. Not only that but they would do it without ever tasting the SBTTCBMBwJRD.

So basically, this list is a warning to avoid Chili's (a fine point), Macaroni Grill, Outback, On the Border, TGIFriday's etc.. That's an okay point, but for all the fat and calories in the dishes listed, any number of local joints pack the same punch in their entrees. And I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Ultimately, you're responsible for what you eat. There is nothing wrong with mixing in some Paddy O'Quigley's fish and chips (a guilty pleasure of mine) with your regular Cosentino's lunch salad.

This whole thing reminds me of my other favorite type of scold. The scold that feels they are superior because they don't watch TV. Do you know how stupid that is? Why would you intentionally shun one source of information and entertainment and then feel superior for doing it? That's the way I feel about food. Variety is the spice of life and knowing cheap, quickly prepared food is just as important as knowing fine ingredients cooked with care. As with everything moderation is key. I'm not saying you should intentionally subject yourself to substandard fare like Chili's, but eat what you enjoy. If you enjoy Chili’s Buffalo Chicken Fajitas with The Works (Ranch Dressing, Guacamole, Sour Cream, Cheese, and Pico de Gallo + 4 tortillas) eat it, but eat it in moderation.

There is no right and wrong in food, everyone enjoys something different. Celebrate what you enjoy and be willing to try something new. If you do that you will be 50% better than anyone who calls themselves a foodie.


Chimpotle said...

This post is right on, including the fact that chili's is godawful. The brightness of the white text on the sack background is just as awful. Time to tweak.

Owen said...

you know i hate the term foodie as much as anybody but dear lord- that Baskin-Robbins shake is life-threatening and should not be served to minors!

Bull E. Vard said...

If my kids can eat chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs I think some teens can choke down a milkshake with some Oreos in it.

Mar said...

I think Michael Pollan shits gold so I have no problem shunning fast food and thinking about the cow in my dad's pasture that I plan on eating in 6 months. snotty? yes. do I care what others think about my eating habits? no. do I care what they eat? only in the healthcare drug-obsessive (statins and such, not fun drugs) sense. and as I always say "to each his own". oh yeah, and I don't have a tv, but watch online when I remember. but I try not to tell people b/c I know exactly the scold tone you speak of. drives me batty.