The measure of a pomelo

For once I’m on the side of the animal rights (a k a “no meat for you!”) loons: Porking up monkeys to study obesity seems beyond cruel when it’s so obvious what makes humans fat. The researchers could just spend a New York minute in Real America. I’m sure there are millions of people who would happily stand in for the suffering simians with such a life: eat all day, never move? Knowing every 5 extra pounds puts 25 pounds of stress on your hips and knees, I just felt huge empathy for those poor cousins moping in cages when they were born to run, and climb. Talk about suffering for our super-sized sins. What’s truly sickening is that the misery is inflicted for ill-gotten gains: Big Pharma is torturing in search of the holy grail to market for megabucks. Not for the first time do I want to connect the dots with diabetes — what would be more lucrative than a whole country with an induced disease to treat for life? Maybe ducks and geese are blessed — only their livers get engorged by overfeeding. Plus some pleasure results from it; you certainly can’t sauté a pill. And man can’t get morbidly obese on foie gras alone.

Came out of nowhere, new pundit said

I pissed in the teapot at an impromptu party in our co-op on a snow day by bringing up the awful truth that thunder and lightning are not normal in a January blizzard, and by wondering how we the little people can push back against undeniable global warming. The Guardian ran a pretty good story recently noting that rationing in World War II actually strengthened British society, and by chance one of the guests had firsthand tales of trading kitchen scraps for eggs, surviving on powdered eggs from America and watching her mom weigh out candy once a week. Surely we could do something, anything while our “leaders” dither and pocket checks from Big Oil and “Clean” Coal. While I wait for suggestions, I was happy to hear a report on PRI’s The World on the teacups of Kolkata: They’re made from clay, used once on the street and crashed to the ground, where they dissolve to be recycled into fresh containers. The rest of India is giving in to plastic, but the reporter interviewed a family responsible for baking these eternal-life cups for now. And she had the details down to the little bit of grit in the bottom of each cup — I can still taste the chai we drank one long morning while my consort was shooting there in 1993. I think of it every time I go into some snooty coffee joint in NYC when the dishwasher is (inevitably) broken and the clerks are serving in disposable cups rather than having someone get his/her hands clean scrubbing the china ones. My big fear will always be reincarnation, but if I have to come back, I hope it’s to Kolkata.

Thimerosal rising

And speaking of what a grim world spawners are leaving, my consort came home the other day from picking up movies at our own public Netflix, the NYPL, marveling that he had overheard a woman saying she had a child in a “dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free school.” While the knuckle-draggers argue about evolution, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this country is breeding the weakest generation. The Ingalls family would have curled up on the prairie.

X marks the position

And no wonder the antithesis of the Lump in the Bed has set off a shitstorm by suggesting Americans could maybe eat a little better and move a little more. On each leg of our JetBlue trip, my consort and I sat in an exit row penned in by a guy who probably weighed as much as the two of us put together. (The second offender, interestingly enough, was reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”) Wherever we went in between I had to pull my jaw closed at the sights — a mother so huge she had to ride a cart at Target, a young couple so gigantic their super-sized frozen custards at Kone King disappeared in their ham hands, a slightly older couple in shorts at Wegmans who could have commanded admission in a freak show only 50 years ago. (Judging by the astonishing avoirdupois on display, the chain’s slogan should be: “Where giant people push huge carts.”)

Our last meal was typically Buffalo-excessive, with three ginormous softshell crabs in a super-rich sauce, and my in-law equivalent said the problem was portion sizes. But I had to note that very few of the morbidly obese we had gawked at looked able to afford $27.95 entrées. They gorge on the 99-cent crap with Big Gulps. The saddest sight was of the “little” boy wearing only basketball shorts going in for a fix  for his mom at a gas station — he had a gut worthy of a case-of-Bud-a-day drinker and looked to be about 8 but walked like a 70-year-old, his feet and joints strained trying to support his bulk. I was marveling that “that kid is doomed — no way can he ever get that weight off once he grows up” when Big Mama Overfeeder backed her honking-huge truck straight at us. She must have heard me.

Who needs phytoplankton, anyway?

I know it’s quite fashionable to mock people who prefer reusable bags, and to indict the bags themselves as being about as clean as $10 bills (no one ever puts it that way, of course). But my favorite detail in the stories about the woman in France who smothered her eight newborns (and not, as some Twag put it, in butter and garlic): The kiddles’ bodies decomposed. The plastic bags they were stuffed into did not.

All the salmon will be female. And sterile.

Also, too, let’s trash reusable grocery bags. A new study found they’re about as clean as money (well, it didn’t put it exactly like that). As if Americans needed an excuse to give up and go back to wasting thousands of plastic bags on a single shopping trip. Right now every conservation effort with the slimmest possibility of helping should be cheered, not mocked. The earth has a big hurting hole in it, and it’s spewing what we’re so dependent on for a plastic-based lifestyle. As our beef addiction makes clear, bacteria are not that scary at all. You can wash a shopping bag easier than a beach. (Yes, I’m getting sappy. It’s just that my big fear is reincarnation.)

Sniffing seafood

After 9/11, I reread Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach.” Now, with Apocalypse Oil spewing in the Gulf, I’m thinking about picking up “The Road” again — while listening to Carole King’s “It’s Too Late. . .” Because the one thing that comes across clearest in McCarthy’s novel is the futility of stocking up for end times. Which it makes it so ironic that civilization has never been better-equipped for bunker dining into perpetuity. Twinkies are forever.

Stick a Deen in it

I spotted crabmeat from the Gulf at Chelsea Market the other week and realized it might be the last in my lifetime. And no surprise who’s partly responsible for this eco-catastrophe. If only the NYTimes had had Panchito on the eats beat in 2000, not ambling after a failed oilman and spinning him as harmlessly affable. The world might have been spared blackened everything.

Gorging on Eleni’s, drawing the line at Vitamix

I think I’ve read about enough about well-paid media types (and chefs) trying to live on a food stamp diet in America. It says it all that they have no innate understanding of how more and more people in this country deal in a bushwhacked economy. Doesn’t anyone come up out of poverty and become a talking head or other media voice anymore? I don’t think a single soul should have to grow up poor enough to understand that a dog and a dozen cats can survive on one can of dog food a day if a mom stretches it with a huge pot of cornmeal mush. But maybe, when all the dust settles on the school lunch program, someone with a megaphone might want to start talking about what kids were once taught: how to feed a family of nine on next to no income. Thank allah my mom was educated in New York’s public schools in the 1930s and learned beans and corn (or rice) make a complete protein. Today, of course, she’d be indoctrinated on Doritos as whole-grain . . .

They shoot college-age reviewers, don’t they?

I can’t remember where I saw the photo spread on all the new kitchen tools being designed for insecure parents who want to raise the next Jamie Oliver, but it was pretty damn depressing. The best way to teach kids is with real tools, not dinosaured-up implements. I baked my first cake when I could barely reach the counter, with my depressed-flat mom calling out directions from her bedroom, and I needed no special measuring spoons or bowls. If I remember correctly from half a century ago, kids just wanna look/act grown-up (never understanding they will be not-kids for such a very long time). Let them wrestle serious whisks, senza handles in the shape of a plane or an outstretched body. And they most definitely do not need their own magazine. Highlights was good enough for me, for Goofus’s sake. But the diapers-down most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in this silly trend is that some mega-enterprise has come up with a name for kids interested in food. And it’s almost as tone-deaf as the anti-tampon iPad. Koodies? Seriously? I’d rather eat cooties.

Time for food trucks

Everyone else can obsess on the supersizing of the Last Supper over the centuries (although I did like “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!”’s take: they might need a bigger cross). I was dwelling more on the scary thought that Big Food is developing a “special” salt for garbage we don’t need. It’s a testament to how over-sodiumed most processed crap is that the reasonable amount of salt you would use on your own fresh tortilla chips is way too imperceptible in the stuff that needs to last for months in a bag at an inflated price. Unfortunately, I read about this new sprinkle in the same paper that informed me, by way of a UK restaurant critic, that blue cheese has twice as many calories as other cheeses. This in a piece debating the merits of the calorie accounting on restaurant menus required by the new health reform law. We’re longtime subscribers, but I am really starting to wonder how long we can stay with the Foxes at The Wall Street Post.

Sous vide frogs’ legs

Maybe the nutrition nazis were the useful idiots paid to hack climate scientists’ email to sow absurd doubt about the reality that we humans are shitting in our own nest. A little misinformation is a dangerous thing. Works for sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats and butter. Why not for global meltdown? Once you know people can be scared into soiling their adult Pampers over carbs, dupe them into denying a fishless future on the Omaha beachfront. Someone must believe there will be very fancy restaurants in hell. . . .