POSTED: Sept 1, 2022
I like eating and drinking. There I said it. Flavours, textures, smells, umami. I like holding burgers and corn on the cob in my hand, cutting fresh bread, and breaking a just out of the oven scone. I also like cooking and smelling the change when zucchini slices just start to grill or onions begin to caramelize, or a simmering Irish oatmeal wafts through my little kitchen in the morning.
So as I have passed through the last few decades it has been a real disappointment for me to learn at various points about the perils of many of the elements that make food so great. Those scientists want us to live forever, and keep identifying the bits that close up our arteries, screw up our hearts or brain or cause cancers.
Now we don’t need to manage these things. Like exercise, a “proper” diet will mean we will probably live a normal life but a “perfect” diet will result in us outliving our friends and there will be no one to say nice things about us at our funeral. But on the other hand if we want to hang out a little longer than otherwise we really have to manage our intake of these monsters, especially if we aren’t about to submit to an exercise regime!
Fats of course were the first nasty to be identified, particularly those trans fats. The latter had never been a big part of my life but conventional fats of course were. Yes, you can reduce their component in a dish, use substitutes and other tricks to reduce if you are cooking at home but if you go out to dinner or buy take away food or prepared dishes at the supermarket – there they are, lurking behind the proteins and green vegetables ready to ambush you.
The same is the case for salt. My buddy Jims paternal grandmother used salt like she was melting an icy winter road. Almost killed the taste of everything with it on her own plate but when making a nice tourtiere or pie for others she would restrain herself. Virtually any product you buy in a grocery store that is not a vegetable or a meat is full of sodium. Almost anything in a can or jar is loaded up with it. I have almost cut it out as a component in my cooking but must admit that there are a few things that I still will put a little pinch on.
Being a baby boomer, an ever-present part of my childhood was sugar. Everything was better with sugar. And if the massive dose of sugar in the products was not enough well lets just put a few extra spoonful’s on your cereal Django.
Some things are the holy trinity of these three – Ice cream – fat, sugar, salt and you might just want to put some more sugar sprinkles on top. I love a good ice cream cone but it has been ruined for me given what comes hidden in that lovely treat. Now sometimes I make homemade frozen yogurt, or a nice fruit sorbet that are better on the nasty components but just don’t measure up on the taste front.
You may wonder why I am ranting on about fat, salt and sugar. Well, I was watching the BBC last week and they ran a piece on a recent study. Apparently, alcohol is a carcinogen. Yeah, that age old favourite is killing us. When I dug a little deeper I learned this has been fairly well documented for some time, but of course the industry does not want to promote this, nor the governments who tax the product and enjoy the employment numbers from its sale directly as well as the sale of wine beer and other alcoholic drinks in restaurants. And beyond governments own self interest the alcohol lobby is massive. It may be bigger than the NRA in its various efforts around the world.
At this point in time it is becoming clear that a good time is to be had with a glass of water and a celery stick and its only a matter of time before we learn just how terrible that celery can be.
I am not about to cut out all the fats and salts and sugars and alcohol but want to be around a bit longer so will do my best to try to keep them in check but not beat myself up when I fall off the wagon. This week I have taken to only having wine on the weekend. Boy its hard to do. It has been a long week so far and its only Wednesday!