Food Column: A Real Meal

By Todd Feathers, News Staff

The best meal you ever ate was red meat wrapped in bacon, and you know it. Somebody cooked it in a real kitchen, and they used real food with real calories, real carbohydrates and real protein.

I had one of those meals last night at a local burger place that stacks its perfectly pink patties under all kinds of deep fried and thousand island dressing-covered concoctions. The burger juice dripped down my hands, bits of lettuce fell out of my mouth, and when I swallowed the last bite I loosened the ol’ digestive tract with a nice burp.

After finishing my meal, I sat in a comfortable restaurant booth and talked with my girlfriend about work, our friends and the food. After a long day, the experience was a small triumph, the kind that makes slogging home from work in an uncalled-for, slushy crap-storm seem distant and insignificant.

And that is what food is about. It’s the great bringer-together, the banisher of miseries-past, the quite-literal fuel of life.

What food is not about is juice cleanses. It’s not about raw vegetable diets, alkaline diets, no-carb diets, hormone injections, or most of the other nonsense that a quick Google search for “dieting trends” will turn up.

We have a serious problem in our society today, and it’s not violent video games or smut on TV. The problem is people who diet stupidly and at the expense of their taste buds.

Don’t get me wrong, juice is fantastic. I’m a big proponent of juice. I could drink half a gallon of orange juice right now, as long as it came with a kielbasa and fried egg sandwich on two slices of well-buttered French toast.

But like all things, there is a time and a place for juice and it’s not as the main course.

It’s probably true that if you drink nothing but juice for a week you’ll lose weight, but you’ll also lose the strength to walk.

Beyoncé used a juice cleanse and she looks great –– really freaking great – but you don’t get hips like that unless you’re eating a little bacon yourself, and you certainly can’t shake them if you barely have the strength to claw the cap off your morning BluePrint (a popular juice cleanse).

Putting aside the obvious nutritional downsides to a diet devoid of three of the five food groups, juice cleanses and other hip dieting traps remove all the pleasure from eating.

Nobody wants to sit down for a conversation over a meal of raw potato, and you can’t have a romantic dinner of Joos (a juice cleanse named by somebody whose brain is forced to run on juice cleanses).

Our romantic culture places a high premium on dinner dates for a reason. Food can be a conversation starter, an excuse not to talk or even an aphrodisiac. The simple joy of a well cooked meal can ease many tensions in life.

And if you’re lucky, like me, your significant other may even pay for that great burger you ordered, the jalapeno poppers and your two beers because she’s so damn happy about the meal she just ate.

Bottom line: the truth is, and always will be, that the key to a happy life is exercise and good food. There’s a lot of science to back that claim up, and while it might be harder to find than Kim Kardashian’s latest juice cleanse advertisement, it might also be more worth your while.

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