My body is a temple. I’m not sure to which God, but he seems to like the sacrifice of large numbers of animals. And while I enjoy food, the current obsession with it seems to me misplaced, so I’d like to remind readers of the essential rules for successful eating.
- The time between concept and consumption should be as short as possible: hunger does not allow for marination. This interval includes all shopping time. Recipes which involve scurrying round the supermarket looking for specific ingredients should be avoided: “2 oz. cheese” is fine, anything stating the specific kind of cheese is clearly aimed at restaurants.
- The amount of effort involved in preparation and clearing up must be negligible. The perfect meal can be dumped, in its container, onto a baking tray, and slammed into the oven for the requisite period while the consumer does something enjoyable and entertaining. Ideally it can also be eaten from said container, and with the fingers, but the usage of one (1) piece of cutlery is permitted.
- It shall be edible from a relaxed and laid-back position i.e. in front of the TV, and require minimal concentration and co-ordination. Spaghetti is quick and easy, but you’ll spend more time staring at your plate than the screen. Real food comes in large lumps, into which you can stab a fork, and then attack in a manner midway between candy floss and a lion dismembering a gazelle.
- Never under-estimate potential food. “Meal replacement” drinks such as Slim-Fast may seem laughable, but respect is due when preparation is ripping the ring-pull, clearing up is dropping the empty in the bin, and you can drink it anywhere you like – take the label off and you have something easily mistaken for Japanese designer lager. The only problem is there’s little chance of “kebab” or “pepperoni” flavour in the near future.
- Don’t cook anything you can have delivered. There is no point in making curry, Chinese, or a pizza, simply because there are other people whose job it is to do these things, and they will inevitably do it better than you. They are specialists, paid for their skills – you wouldn’t like it if some amateur tried to muscle in on your employment, so treating them the same is mere professional courtesy.
- Remember the importance of well-balanced meals. If not well-balanced, lasagne has a nasty habit of slopping over you as it’s transported from kitchen to living-room, and the results are akin to napalm, thanks to the sticky cheese – I have the scars to prove it. And you do not want to know what lasagne does to the carpet, though any sensible person chooses a suitably splodgy colour scheme anyway, so that Guinness, chilli sauce and curry will blend right in.
- If you must lose weight, remember the devil doesn’t just find work for idle hands: she also finds packets of biscuits, chocolate bars and crisps. You can’t eat if your hands are otherwise engaged – computer games, building scale models of ancient monuments out of match-sticks, and frenzied masturbation are all viable alternatives, though none of them are really likely to go down too well in the average office.
- The key to planning is sell-by dates, for tomorrow you may be down the pub. However, sometimes the fridge will hold incompatible items – say, vindaloo and gateau – both expiring today. Obviously, if one can’t be frozen, eat it, but otherwise the key is defrost time. In our example, vindaloo = 45 mins at 200 degrees, gateau = two hours at room temperature. Eat the gateau now. But be aware that sell-by dates are often just legal flim-flam: why else would mineral water (already several millenia old!) have one? And not even anything general like “end 2001”, or “February 2001”, it’s “February 12 2001”. I’m tempted to keep a bottle for two years just to see what happens on February 13th. Otherwise, avoid anything which boasts “no preservatives”: it’ll go off before you get home.
- Useful information can be gleaned by reading labels. Look out for phrases like “half the fat”, which simply allows you to eat twice as much of it, or “95% fat-free”, which is clearly a very good measurement because, on this scale, beer is even better, being 100% fat-free.
- Indeed, the health-giving powers of beer are sadly under-reported, largely because traditional diet charts never include the important things. However, a less frequently mentioned feature of Microsoft Encarta is a program which contains data on…well, let’s just say if you’ve ever wondered about the nutrition to be found in armadillo (4oz, boneless) or goat (baked, boiled or fried) this is the thing for you.
Here are the relevant extracts for foods which form a large part of the TC diet.
|Bitter (pint)||Bacon double cheese burger||Chicken curry|
|Choc donut (with icing)||Doner kebab |
|Mars bar||Deep pan pizza (slice)||Butter popcorn (1 cup)|
|Dietary Fibre (gm)||2.3||1.7||2.1||1.2||1.1||1.0||1.5||1.4|
|Saturated Fat (gm)||0.0||20.7||3.3||3.2||1.5||5.2||3.8||2.1|
|Unsat. Fat (gm)||0.0||24.3||11.3||6.2||1.8||4.9||5.7||1.3|
|Nutrient (% daily)|
Bet you never realised bitter was a health drink, did you? But with a decent amount of fibre, no cholesterol or fat and plenty of vitamins + minerals (well, if you drink enough – eight pints should do it, and any shortfall can easily be rectified by scarfing down a bacon double-cheeseburger), there’s much worse out there. The truth is that, in industrialised Western countries, it’s pretty hard to avoid getting enough vitamins to keep you healthy.
In many cases, too much is as bad, if not worse, than too little. For example, overdosing on Vitamin A damages the liver, while too much zinc can cause your immune system to fail. [Luckily, beer is free of both.] Potassium is even more enigmatic: deficiency causes “weakness, nausea and mental confusion”, while an overdose can induce “weakness, nausea and – in extreme cases – heart failure”. In other words, the symptoms of too much and too little are pretty much the same, until your heart stops. At that point, ease back on the quarter-pounders. This should come as no surprise to anyone who remember school chemistry, and the nifty explosion produced by adding potassium to water. And given that the human body is mostly water, one senses another reason to avoid McDonald’s…
The 8 Worst Convenience Foods
(Nicked off the Internet, but worthy of permanent record, I’d say…)
- 8. Meeter’s Kraut Juice (Stokely USA): Yes, that’s sauerkraut juice, which is even worse than it sounds. The taste and smell can be a bit, well, harsh, but KJ is reputed by its fans to have certain medicinal benefits (as a source of vitamin C, cure for intestinal bugs, etc.), which adds up to a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease.
- 7. Guycan Corned Mutton with Juices Added (Bedessee Imports): The best thing about this Uruguayan canned good is the very pouty-looking sheep on the package label — he seems to be saying, “Go on, eat me already.” The second-best thing is the presence of both “cooked mutton” and “mutton” in the ingredients listing, which would seem to have all the mutton bases covered.
- 6. Armour Pork Brains in Milk Gravy (Dial Corp.): If you’re really looking to clog up those arteries in a hurry, you’ll be pleased to learn that a single serving of pork brains has 1,170 percent of our recommended daily cholesterol intake. All the more ingenious, then, that the label on this product helpfully features a recipe for brains and scrambled eggs.
- 5. Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken (Sweet Sue Kitchens, Inc.): From its size (think growth-impaired Cornish hen) to its overall appearance (it’s stewed in a quivering mass of aspic goop), this product may change forever your idea of what constitutes a chicken. Gives new meaning to the old line about meat “falling off the bone.”
- 4. Musk Life Savers (Nestle Confectionery): You may think musk is a scent, but over in Australia, they think it’s a candy flavor. A candy flavor that tastes disturbingly like raw meat, to be precise. But what did you expect from a country where everyone happily consumes Vegemite?
- 3. Blind Robins Smoked Ocean Herring (recently discontinued by Bar Food Products): Possibly the world’s most bizarre prepackaged tavern snack. Interestingly, the product’s titular robin isn’t actually blind, he’s blindfolded — the better, presumably, to avoid looking at these heavily salted herring strips, which look like giant slugs.
- 2. Kylmaenen Reindeer Pate (Kylmaenen Oy): This Finnish canned good may not be particulary tasty, but at least it answers the age-old question of why Rudolph was so eager for that safe, steady job on Santa’s sleigh team — he didn’t want to end up as a cracker spread.
- 1. Tengu Clam Jerky (Tengu Co.): Nothing you’ve ever consumed can prepare you for the horror that is clam jerky. Still, this product does score a sort of conceptual coup: If you’re the sort who’s always found raw clams too slimy and gelatinous for your taste, these dried, shriveled mollusks will help you dislike clams on a whole new level.