This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

Archive for the category “food”

We Are What We Eat, In More Ways Than One

Last week’s news: Paula Deen, a popular cook and author of cookbooks with an emphasis on traditional (read: breaded and greasy) Southern cuisine, revealed that she had been suffering from diabetes for the last three years. She has come out about it now in order to shill for a pharmaceutical company. There is no denying that the there is irony in the situation, an obese adherent of riotously unhealthy cooking developing diabetes. Quelle surprise. And there is something unsavory in that, having made money for herself by selling such unhealthy recipes, she is now going to make some more by selling medication for a disease that’s caused, to a large extent, by bad diet.

Still, I wish people would stop ripping into her already. The reason for that is, I am just not sure that publishing a cookbook is tantamount to promoting a lifestyle. Were it so, vegan and low-fat cookbooks would certainly have fixed our nation’s eating habits by now. Fact is, however, people buy cookbooks that appeal to their tastes. A health-conscious person may buy a Paula Deen cookbook, but certainly will not use it with any frequency significant enough to impact his or his family’s health. By contrast, people who buy her cookbooks because they like to have that kind of food on a daily basis, would eat junk just as well without her input.

It does make one think, though: why DO people indulge in diets known to lead to serious illness? Read more…

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The Seasonal Diet: A Memoir

Image by Maggie Smith

I was having lunch yesterday in a quaint restaurant and noticed an unusual cookbook on a shelf by my table. As I perused it, I discovered that all the recipes in it were arranged by month and consisted of ingredients that would have been available during the season before modern agricultural techniques and improved transportation options made most foods available to consumers all year round. “These days, Americans do not appreciate the beauty and simplicity of eating seasonally,” wrote the editor in her foreword. The book was published in 1973.

Well, I am an American, and I do have a first-hand experience with eating seasonally. This is not because I am very old, but because I grew up in Russia, which did not begin to see Western-style abundance on its store shelves until well after end of the Soviet rule (and with that, Soviet-style production) in the 1990’s. Below is an account of what it was like to live on a seasonal diet. Read more…

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