This American expatriate deplanes in San Francisco and looks around him with dismay: it seems he has landed in the midst of a herd of elephants. The ‘new normal’ in North America is so gigantic that the traditional classifications of the human body into ‘ectomorph’, ‘mesomorph’ and ‘endomorph’ don’t seem to work any longer: try fat, fatter and [barely able to move under its own muscle power] tremendous.
There was even a suggestion before the 2008 election that Barack Obama couldn’t win the American Presidency because he was (ready for it?) ‘too skinny’. To me ‘skinny’ has always meant an anorexic model wobbling down a runway in a fashion show. Obama was an example of what would traditionally be known as ‘ideal manhood’. Check out the physiques of soldier boys going off to fight Hitler (or Nazi soldier boys going off to die in Russia) to see this traditional standard of body weight.
So what is it that has turned westerners – and now so many Asians – into blimps?
Fast food. Or more precisely ‘junk food’, loaded with grease, sugar, artificial flavour enhancers and ‘mystery meat’: you do not want to know where that chicken or pork chop comes from, or what sinister hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals it contains.
‘Slow food’ is a recent movement to prepare food more carefully and eat more naturally. You look better and feel better. But there are no extremes: a Ya Udah Bistro pork knuckle for lunch today, and a big fresh salad with soup for lunch tomorrow. It all balances out.
The Flavor Ain’t the Same
The few times I’ve tried to eat a French fry from one of the fast food chains – and rejected it, disgusted – I’ve naturally wondered ‘How on earth can people eat this crap?’ Here’s a shrivelled brown item with the consistency of a shoestring, heated, frozen and reheated several times over, its lack of flavour compensated for by being slathered in salt and catsup.
How can folks eat it? Because they do not consider ‘food’ as ‘FOOD’ but rather some fuel to stuff in the fuel tank – sorry, their bodies – on the run and then get back to making money and having fun.
We prepare our chicken – and all our other dishes – carefully, slowly and lovingly, from fresh, natural ingredients. Maybe you have to wait awhile; have a drink and a smoke and enjoy the afternoon.
We, on the other hand, make you wait. You want a butterfly chicken? Order it. Then the waitress wakes up the boy in the back who has to go running after some unfortunate squawking bird, catches it and croons to it nicely, while heading for kitchen, where death awaits it.
We prepare our chicken – and all our other dishes – carefully, slowly and lovingly, from fresh, natural ingredients. Maybe you have to wait awhile; have a drink and a smoke and enjoy the afternoon. Life is too short to go running hither and yon, giving yourself a heart attack. (Meanwhile those poor sods living off fast food are huffing and puffing, their skeletons creaking from carrying pot bellies and fat asses… indigestion, diabetes, cancer and other assorted maladies await them as they grow older…)
Life today is certainly sped up. But that is no reason to punish yourself while living it. The fine money-grubbing folk of Osaka have an expression: ‘Eat fast – shit fast’ and get back to making money. But are they really enjoying life?