At what age do people finally lose their cool and just scream at the television set, turn it off, do the same with radio — all because every item of food we attempt to pleasantly enjoy eating is now deemed a killer of humans and our demise is imminent?
We each have our favorite foods, having grown up with them, and stuffed things in our mouths for at least half our lives. But suddenly the very items that are about 50 percent of our dietary needs are on the hit list to be banned forever.
I’m not talking about fast food. That came after my teen years, so I was not addicted to the drive-through burger joints. My youth was filled with drive-up carhop service where food was one feature. The other was meeting up with friends or a date.
The “Where’s the Beef?” tag line for a famous burger commercial has now become a reality as we are told beef is not good for our us. Too much fat, raises cholesterol that clogs your arteries and you die. If you’re lucky, you could have a quadruple bypass surgery and survive another 10 years eating lettuce.
Today, it is much easier to see a nutritionist and ask: “What can I eat?” Once you know the rules of what, when and how much, you then make an intelligent decision and just say, “Screw it.”
I was already sick of hearing the warnings even though I personally did not eat junk food, was never a chocoholic and I felt for the people who had weight problems that I never did. One day I became seriously ill, however, with the end result of medicinal side effects leading me directly to a nutritionist — the only professional who could help me get well.
That day I became an authority in my own right on good and bad food for the body if one is ill. For the healthy, though, I did not see one redeeming value to starving and being miserable. It took two years of eating cardboard rice cakes before the food chain started to put flavor in them. I did not know what bread looked like let alone remember how good it tasted. Nothing white. Totally gluten — and taste — free.
I did well on this medical diet and got myself back into good health. I began to introduce the foods I loved back into my diet, such as a baked potato … with butter. And so it went. Little by little I was eating my preferred meals from childhood and continued not to enjoy junk food.
One day, the government decided to tell the American people that they are obese! Sure enough, committees were set up and now every kind of rule and regulation was about to be implemented to get “we the people” in shape by curbing our appetite for junk food. It put me over the edge. That evening, my husband and I were taking a nice young couple out to a favorite café for dinner. The young woman is now in her last three months of nursing school and I have always noticed that the couple eats sensibly, with good nutritious meals, as my husband and I generally try to do ourselves.
Having totally forgotten the earlier obesity news of the day, I excused myself to trek to the rest room; as I had done many times in the past at this café, I waltzed slowly past the large glass dessert case and peered intently at the “Mile High Chocolate Fudge Cake.” It had eight thick layers, uncut and fresh. I always wondered about its exact height, which looked to be nearly a foot tall.
Returning to the table, I announced, “I want a big piece of that decadent-looking chocolate cake I have admired for at least three years.” My companions looked at me as if I had lost my mind but I convinced them we should order two slices as I intended to eat at least one half of that piece of cake right then and there. The young man protested that he did not like, nor eat chocolate. I replied that I did not eat chocolate either but “tonight is the night” and he agreed. My husband, an admitted repository for junk food, was the only person not objecting to this indulgence.
When the cake arrived, one normal slice covered a full-sized dinner plate and could easily have fed four people.
Oh, my! … My mouth could not believe what it was tasting. I never had anything that tasted so delicious, so fresh, so creamy, so moist and so wonderful in my adult life. I slowly savored every inch of that cake and never said a word. I was in chocolate decadence heaven. What, I thought, had I been missing all these years? I can only assume the others were enjoying their cake as no one said a word until we had almost licked the plates clean of the fudge frosting.
Finally, all of us just sighed and agreed it was the most wonderful dessert any of us had ever had. The experience alone was worth the price of a chocolate headache, if one should occur.
Well, I must confess for two full years until the day the café closed, we went there weekly for a very light meal and a huge piece of that Mile High Cake. Everyone in the café knew how we wanted it served, when to cut it and how long to let it “sit” before serving it to us. They also knew that no matter who was at dinner, we would each have our own slice of cake, half or more of which was taken home for a later snack.
The café has been closed for a year now and I’ve lost the few pounds I gained from the two-year ritual. Only a week ago, my husband and I were dining with that same young couple at a new restaurant and the young man said to me, “You know, lately I have been having cravings for chocolate and I never ate it in my life until you introduced me to that Mile High Cake. Now, where in the world can we find it again?”
I happily take the blame. I realized over the two years of pure joy that people have fallen into the trap of guilt put on them by the marketing genius taken up by the “food police” telling us what to eat and what not to eat. Oh, most people will ignore the warnings but they sure did lose the joy of indulging because of guilt.
Sharing this story with some great like-mindeds, we have determined that there is a real need for an establishment in our community as well as every other community in this country to serve only junk food. The decadent junk food. The junkier, the better. Indulge yourself once a week — and the other six days you can think about eating greens, veggies and fruit!
Marie Taylor-Cagara is a local writer and photographer. She and her husband, Chuck, operate Magical Light Photography.