Thursday, September 25, 2008

Greek salad

As Rita explains, we've recently learned that Greek children are now obese, and it's America's fault. Not the fault of an ingrained human preference for the deep-fried over the steamed, but the good ol' U. S. of A. I agree 100% with everything Rita writes on the matter. All I'll add is that there's something I find (and, it seems have found) confusing in this and other recent 'eat your vegetables' manifestos. On the one hand, it's supposed to be scientific fact that unhealthy foods inspire the 'nom nom noms' of enthusiasm. On the other hand, we're meant to believe that locally-grown greens are preferable to our current diet (of over-processed, genetically-modified lard) in part because they're healthy, sustainable, and look so great poking out of green canvas totes, but also because they taste amazing. Once you get used to eating only kale, goes the argument, you will start thinking fries sound disgusting. A nice idea, but it's never happened. You can develop a taste for vegetables, but doing so does not knock all non-vegetable items out of your list of favorites. Clearly, fresh salad (dare I say arugula) tastes better than wilted iceberg. But the movement to return to the undressed salads of our ancestors needs to stop presenting itself as a food-appreciation movement. Food-appreciation is about appreciating whatever foods you happen to enjoy, not rejecting all but recently-plucked plants as non-food items....

Moving on from food to clothes (and leaving Major Questions of Our Age to the professionals), Kei, who flatters me so, not only seems to own the same makeup and accessories as I do, but also finds herself in the same Lucy-and-Ricky predicament as I do, oh so often. Even in this dual-income age, the men in our lives keep young women's (i.e. mine, and apparently Kei's) endless desire for silly purchases in check. But it's a good kind of in check, one over which modern women have, of course, full veto power. Kei, however, has made an excellent chart of her "wanty" items. I'm tempted to follow suit: Top of the list would be the $9 sunglasses, which, if I remember them right, are somewhere between hipster and glamorous. Well, a dachshund would come before the sunglasses, but I'm assuming "wanty" implies a degree of practicality, however slight. I too have some Minnetonka wanty items, all of which seem to be available at vast discounts at every store in NYC in every size but my own. The rest of the list (omitting books, which would lend this list an unwanted level of seriousness) would be basically everything in the women's section of Uniqlo, except the workout clothes. And that is all.

15 comments:

JMR said...

How much is Big Arugula paying you to constantly mention their product?

Phoebe said...

Hah, if only.

The irony (tragedy?) is that since all the symbolic arugula discussion has started, Whole Foods has not stocked the product.

Petey said...

"Once you get used to eating only kale, goes the argument, you will start thinking fries sound disgusting. A nice idea, but it's never happened."

Actually, it's basically true.

I grew up eating junk food. Then in college, I ended up living with some vegans who loved to cook and were good at it. I learned tricks for cooking and eating delicious things without having to resort to the crutches of salt, sugar, and animal fat.

I'm no longer a vegan or vegetarian, but the experience really did shift my palette. If I'm driving long-distance and have to resort to McDonalds food, it really does taste incredibly disgusting to me.

Training my palette really has produced a situation where kale does taste better to me than fries. Eating well is a learned behavior. The untrained palette prefers sugar coated lard pops, which is why civilized eating must be taught.

(And since I love putting in plugs for Luzzo's, I'll note that their arugula / prosciutto pizza gives you the best of both worlds.)

Miss Self-Important said...

I also don't like McDonald's, but not because it tastes bad objectively, only that I've been trained not to like it. If someone blindfolded me and told me it was a vegan dish made from only locally grown kale, I'd probably think it was awesome.

Also, your coastal elite is showing. You want everything in the women's section at Uniqlo while there are millions of women in America who, like me, just want a Uniqlo in their vicinity. No wonder you can't connect with the people.

Petey said...

"Also, your coastal elite is showing. You want everything in the women's section at Uniqlo while there are millions of women in America who, like me, just want a Uniqlo in their vicinity. No wonder you can't connect with the people."

Phoebe went to college out in the provinces in Sarah Palin's America. That alone should give her the ability to connect with the people.

Phoebe said...

My coastal elite can't not be showing--I'm from New York, live in New York, and study French literature. That I go to Old Navy as well as Uniqlo (albeit with less enthusiasm) does little to mitigate this.

As for the kale versus McDonalds discussion--I'll revise a bit. You can learn and unlearn preferences, but there are limits. An unlearned taste for Big Macs might channel itself into a learned preference for humanely-grown meats and artisanal cheeses. But the preference to eat more than just raw vegetables is, I believe, impossible to overcome, barring eating disorders.

Petey said...

"But the preference to eat more than just raw vegetables is, I believe, impossible to overcome, barring eating disorders."

Sure. Hence the beauty of Mediterranean cuisine, which includes many good things in balance.

A nice primo, secondo, and contorno structure lets you have some pasta and fish along with your yummy kale or collards or broc rabe.

Phoebe said...

According to the article, the 'balanced' Med diet is a myth--the real thing is basically vegetables and nothing else.

Petey said...

"the real thing is basically vegetables and nothing else."

Well, according to the article:

Small towns like this one in western Crete, considered the birthplace of the famously healthful Mediterranean diet — emphasizing olive oil, fresh produce and fish.

Vegetables are the heart of it, but there is lots of body around the heart.

Last night, I made a proper dinner with a nice Balthazar baguette prepared pa amb tomàquet style served with olives, followed by some baked tilapia and broccoli rabe sauteed in olive oil and garlic, followed by cantaloupe and a couple of squares of chocolate.

The largest ingredient by bulk was the broccoli rabe, but there was something else other than nothing else.

Phoebe said...

OK, more precisely, look at the food pyramid that accompanies the article. And, if you're really bored, listen to the accompanying podcast. (Hey, I commute.)

Petey said...

I agree completely that the pyramid is either confusingly designed or wrong. You get to eat fish, olives, and beans more than once a week. And you get to eat pig more than once a month.

"Hey, I commute."

If you lived on Sullivan Street, you'd be home already.

Withywindle said...

Phoebe: As proof that all insideriness is relative, I offer this conversation --heavily distorted for dramatic effect - from when I began dating Goldberry, many years ago:

Goldberry: Where do you live?

Withywindle: Upper West Side, near Columbia.

Goldberry: Oh, Upstate.

Petey said...

Correction: the Upper West Side is Yonkers, not Upstate. Washington Heights is Upstate.

kei said...

I've seen the ad campaigns for Uniqlo in NYC, and been to the store a couple times. Their image, products, and prices are quite different from those of Japan. I told people in Japan that Uniqlo is hip and cool and exclusive to NYC, and they all laughed at me in disbelief. In its native home, I'd say that Uniqlo is perceived as lamer than the Gap and Old Navy. They advertise sales in circulars! Not that this is bad or anything, because their sales are pretty amazing :)

And yes, books count as automatically justified purchases. The level of practicality you want to weigh in on the 'wanty factor' is all up in the air. Perhaps your dachshund is to you what my PS3 is to me. Keep it on the list long enough and perhaps the time will come to acquire!

Phoebe said...

Kei: I guess that would be a bit like how GAP in Paris is sort of posh. In NYC, Uniqlo is basically the same basic almost-conservative look you find at Banana Republic or J.Crew, but a bit cheaper and a bit more minimalist. But mostly, a 'chain' store is always less lame in the country where it's not really a chain.