I’m having people over for dinner. I thought I’m make a juicy prime rib roast. When done well, it’s a dish that I swear is guided by the gods. I’ll rub the outside with black peppercorns and the inside will be meaty, succulent and so tender it will easily yield to a fork. I’ll slice it very thick and lay a piece on everyone’s dish with a compliment of freshly grated horseradish and warm popovers (Yorkshire Pudding) to sop up the juices.
Then come the confessions in the form of requests. One guest doesn’t eat red meat and the other guest’s favourite meal is prime rib; I have one vegetarian and another who has sworn off wheat and dairy, all in the name of a healthier diet.
All this talk of a healthy diet is putting me right off my food! It seems to me that there is an awful lot of talk about what we can’t or won’t eat, but not enough talk about what we can eat.
Over a decade ago I wrote a story about how butter will kill you and broccoli will save your life so I suppose I share some of the blame for our modern day food terrorism. But really, do we need to label some delicious foods as dangerous and talk so much about how what we are eating is eating us?
It seems to me that when someone talks of eating healthier, they talk of how they have cut down on their coffee consumption. Carbohydrate scares are sending some into eating piles of sausages and denying themselves their daily bread. In kitchen stores where you’d once find carbohydrate counters, they’ve been replaced with fat-gram counters. Fat is our new metaphor for evil and it can be either animal or dairy. Cow’s milk is emma watson pokies the new Satan of nutrition as mothers are being told to beware and char grilled steaks are now carcinogenic.
Civil disobedience with flavor comes from those who take the road filled with faux foods; ice cream without cream, and eggs without yolks. Other products labeled fat-free, sugar-free, calorie-free and ‘lean’ are consumed in a flavour vacuum with a blind eye. Just turn the package over and the list of chemical additives, fillers and flavour enhancers should be enough to steer anyone down a different road. This is why most people overeat; all of this faux food makes you want to eat more and more when all you really wanted in the first place was some good food.
Those of us who love food are trying to figure out how we can savour the best of what there is and at the same time, take care of ourselves. This is, in fact, the main topic of any food writer’s life these days, finding the middle ground. For me, it has always been moderation and in those exceptional times when I find myself moderating moderation it’s always over really good food. I would rather one mouthful of a luscious, artisan made caramel ice-cream than a gallon of supermarket frozen dairy product.
All of this leads me to think about our little affluent part of the world and how others less fortunate would envy all that we shun. We are obsessed with food and if it isn’t food, it’s the conflict with food and torturous exercise
For my grandparents who lived through the depression, a meal with meat was a luxury. I wonder what my grandchildren will say about the culinary silliness that is obsessing us today.
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