Sunday, July 04, 2010

A Madeleine In The Making

As I have not been around for the past few days, I have a lot of blog-catching-up to do, and a host of other things, too. I'm now in the throes of trying to offload my old car…. anyone out there want a 2000 model Oldsmobile Alero?
Exactly.
I've been doing some reading though -- about one of my very very favorite things.
FOOD.
A very engaging book, this
Omnivore's Dilemma -- I'm about halfway through it.
The subtitle is "A Natural History of Four Meals."

An interesting thing happened the other day at work. I had the book folded over on the table in the lunchroom, just as the Cleaner-Guy came in to do his…. cleaning.
I swept up the book and put it in my backpack so he could do his work and as I did so he said, "That is a great book!"
I was shocked.
"You've read Michael Pollan?" I asked.
[I didn't think that Cleaner-Guys read books……..]
"Yep."
And then he and I got into a discussion about the prevalence of corn.
Corn is in EVERYTHING, man! It's the main ingredient in soft drinks!
You eat hamburger? [Ummm…. let's not even GO there…!]
Well -- what do you think the cow is eating, at the feedlot?
CORN!

Anyway -- I just wanted to drop by to say -- if you have even the slightest interest in food [and who doesn't?] -- this Pollan guy is just excellent.
Witty. Erudite. THOROUGH.
Here's an example I want to share with you -- in one of his experiments he took his family to a McDonald's -- his son got the McNugget Combo…
When I asked Isaac if the new nuggets tasted more like chicken than the old ones, he seemed baffled by the question. "No, they taste like what they are, which is nuggets," and then dropped on his dad a withering two-syllable "duh." In his consumer's mind at least, the link between a nugget and the chicken in it was never more than notional, and probably irrelevant. By now the nugget constitutes its own genre of food for American children, many of whom eat nuggets every day. For Isaac, the nugget is a distinct taste of childhood, quite apart from chicken, and no doubt a future vehicle of nostalgia -- a madeleine in the making.

Now -- I quote the above passage for several reasons.
One is -- I am profoundly interested in food, and information about food. But, [here's the kicker] my interest is not so much because I am a "health" nut… it's because I am a junk-food junkie.
I know that one day soon I am going to grab my chest and keel over -- and as I do so, I want to at least have an awareness of WHY THIS HAPPENED SO SOON!
Secondly, I quote the above passage because it shows how well acquainted the author is with important stuff other than food! Like -- LITERATURE.
Pollan has read Proust.
[I wonder if our Cleaning Guy caught that allusion…!]

One final thing -- a quick quiz.
How many specific ingredients go into the production of a McDonald's Chicken McNugget?
The scary answer
--> HERE.
*******

2 comments:

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I am NOT looking at the ingredients in the McNuggets. While I don't eat them myself, I reserve the right to (rarely) shove a box at my kids in order to get some peace and quiet so I CAN READ.

Clearly, I should be reading this book. ;)

Stefanie said...

Pollan is great and I really enjoyed this book. After reading it I stopped eating anything that had corn syrup in it and limited my intake of other foods that had corny ingredients high on the list. I also became even more concientious about buying local and in season. What a difference it makes not only in the price of food but the taste too!