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Recently I've heard about a couple new developments in the fast food world.  Pizza Hut has come out with a pizza that has hot dogs in the crust.  Burger King is now offering a Bacon Sundae.  I heard of them separately and mostly by word of mouth, but here's an article that talks about it a bit.  Quite a while ago now Wendy's came out with the Baconator.  I was working when this thing came out, at Wendy's, and no one, not even people who had been there for years, could believe that a fast food place would put out something THAT unhealthy.  It has beef, bacon, cheese, ketchup and mayonnaise.  That's it.  We were floored.  It would seem that was only a sign of worse things to come.

It makes me wonder about who is eating these types of food.  The Baconator was actually quite popular when it came out, and probably still is.  Then, of course, these places wouldn't put out this type of food if there wasn't a demand for it.  Most young people I talk to (admittedly in the University area) talk about how they are eating healthier, exercising more, and I'm inclined to believe them most of the time.  From what I can tell, at least college youths are making a point of living healthy lifestyles physically.  Knee-jerk reaction is to think that it must be older people indulging in these things, but I go to greasy spoon restaurants too, and I think that even if folks just have one place they indulge at that can still be enough to encourage those types of places and foods to pop up.  I've been making a point to eat healthier, even when eating out; but I still like going to Griff's here in Albuquerque, and they have really delicious (greasy and unhealthy) burgers.  I figure it's not so bad because most every other place I eat healthier.  But if everyone has their one unhealthy place it's still giving business and encouragement to the hot dog crust and bacon sundae people.

I think in another way it's unhealthy for us as a people to encourage food like that because it's so comically unhealthy.  We all have our vices, and I'm not saying get rid of unhealthy food (people should be responsible enough on their own).  What I'm thinking about here is how we (this country) are viewed by the world.  There are those who would say that we shouldn't worry about what the world thinks, but it's important in an international affairs sort of way.  I don't know about others, but I personally don't like the idea of the Ugly American.  I think most of that is because a lot of it seems to be true.  We are already seen as fat slobs, do we really have to up the ante by advertising to the world that we've just created a BACON SUNDAE available on a mass scale to the public?  It's similar to the Dick Cheney shooting his friend in the face thing; it was so comically over the top it turned Cheney into joke (or at least cemented that position) for how "evil" he is.  Few average Joes could listen to a speech given by Cheney today without imagining him blasting some poor bastard in the face with some bird shot.  Do we need that to happen to the image of the American people?

Maybe I'm going a bit over the top myself here, it is just fast food after all, it ain't supposed to be healthy.  I guess I just don't like the idea of being seen as a backward, fat, ignorant country, person even.  I enjoy reading articles from international news outlets for the sake of balance.  When I come across commentary, opinion pages, on-the-street interviews, even entertainment, I find more and more that the rest of the world sees us as a joke.  50% of Americans don't believe in evolution so we're a stupid people.  So many of us are Bible thumping bigots (though that admittedly is purely a stereotype, I think those types of folks are actually in the minority over here).  We eat Big Macs for breakfast, Whoppers for lunch, and a Double Down for dinner.  For those of you who don't know what that is, look it up if you think your arteries can take it. 

Besides that we seem to be uncommonly ignorant of the rest of the world.  From talking to people (even college students) it seems folks are limited to knowing only who the President of the United States is, and maybe the governor of their state.  Few know who the congressmen or senators are.  Few know who the Supreme Court Judges are.  Fewer still know who the leaders of other countries are.  I think a part of this is the fault of mainstream media not being willing to cover international stories as much.  Most international publications I visit have quite extensive coverage of American goings on.  Der Spiegel even covered the Republican Primaries!  Other countries are lucky if we cover their main elections, even if they are close allies or active enemies.  Of course in the end it comes down to people choosing to be ignorant.  If CNN doesn't mention it it's not important.  Few think to check other sources from other countries to compare reporting of facts.  I feel pretty disorganized with my ramblings but it helps me get my thoughts straight.

Food

Oct. 3rd, 2011 11:54 am
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So it's definitely Fall, and almost Winter actually.  Of course that means it's Harvest Time.  This year was the first year that CD and I actually got around to planting a garden.  It took some drastic measures (like planting) and a decent amount of (over-)digging.  We set up a snaking trench leading from the east portion of our yard to the west.  We're on a slight slope.  Then we planted along that trench.  While this Harvest Season is certainly not the first we're seeing of our crops it is a time when it seems we've gotten some more great dishes to come out of the garden.  A lot of the vegetables we've picked so far have ended up in stews and soups, as they've been a bit hodge-podgey with when they've been ready.  We've had the occasional huge zucchini and some yellow crook-neck squash and way too much okra (who knew it'd do so well here?).  We've been kind of hit and miss with the corn as far as picking it.  A difficult aspect of having a garden is realizing it's not the same as a grocery store.  If we don't feel like corn today but want some next week, those ears we've been eyeing will likely be too dry for much cooking (I think we're going to have a lot of cornmeal this year though). 

Along those lines though we've kept a closer eye on the egg plant and the cantaloupe.  The little seeds we planted for the melons ended up taking over quite a bit of our garden.  It looks like all of those vines might be coming from just two plants too.  The entire central portion of our garden is overtaken by cantaloupe vines, which are producing quite a bit of melons too.  Byron brought up how some folks hollow out the melons slightly from a small-ish hole in the top and then fill it with vodka.  They reseal it and let it sit for a while.  Sounds kind of yummy so maybe we'll give that a go. 

Meanwhile Sam made a delicious dish with the first eggplant we harvested along with a rather large zucchini we've had sitting in the kitchen for a while.  She stuffed some chicken breast with the zucchini (which she had marinate a bit in a sauce she came up with) and then used the zucchini to make a lasagna to go along with it.  It was amazing.  There was a bit too much zucchini for the dinner so we ended up saving it in a container (I've had a few zucchini omelets since then) but otherwise it went pretty quick, even for how many portions Sam had to make so we didn't waste the eggplant.

In a lot of ways it's pretty exciting being able to cook the occasional meal with mostly fresh out of the garden ingredients.  It certainly makes me feel good about the work I've put into it.  It also makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile.  An issue that I've had with being academically inclined is that there isn't really anything I can touch and say "I made that" or "I did that."  It's not the same as having a more trades type job where you can readily see, feel, touch the work that you've done.  With the garden I can pick up a cantaloupe and say "I helped this grow."  I think back on the weed clearing, the digging, the planting and all of that stuff and then get to see these edibles come up out of that work.  That probably helps make the meals taste just a little bit better too.

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