The year that I spent in France when I was a teenager, I am certain, that I was blessed with the most perfect host family that any exchange student could ask for. My host family was very traditional. My host father was in his sixties, he adored all things French, and it was his mission to teach me about as many of them as he could.
I have theorized for a long time that the sight of a prep line in a Taco Bell could cause the man’s death. When you adore food at a certain level, watching sour cream be propelled through some sort of food gun is just about the most frightening thing imaginable, but recently I have begun to notice something far worse.
Traditional French cooking has a lot to do with simplicity. Take a simple recipe, quality fresh ingredients, care, time, and technique, and you can create beautiful food. Well, Americans have always done things a little differently, but we are elevating things to new heights at a rapid pace now.
Have you seen Pinterest yet? If not, you need to check it out. It looks fun and innocent enough at first glance. If you look closely though, it has a very dark side.
I have been observing this frightening trend where recipe creators will seek out several of the most decadent, sugar and calorie packed deserts and figure out some way in which to meld them all together into some sort of healthpocolypse bomb. The scariest part is that the audience on Pinterest cannot get enough of this stuff.
I have copied these recipe names directly from Pinterest:
Peanut Butter Crack Brownies, Fruity-Pebbles No-Bake Bars, Rolo Pretzel Brownies, Banana Pudding Cupcakes with Cool Whip Pudding Frosting, Salted Caramel Starbucks Cupcakes, Bourbon Black Forest Cupcake, Caramel Apple Cheesecake Cupcakes with Streusel Topping, White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Butterfinger Cheesecake, Brownie Bottom Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars, Funfetti Cake Batter Ice Cream Cake with Rainbow Chip Icing, Snicker Caramel Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie Fudge, and Candy Bar Pie.
Anybody notice any sort of problem with this list? I found all of these recipes in less than five minutes. What in the ever-loving hell is our problem? Are we all so desperate to put ourselves and our children into a sugar-coma? Are we all so miserable that we need to drown our woes in Brownie Bottom Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars?
Yes, the French are responsible for the innovation of a plethora of delicious pastries, but when I was living there I noticed that, I, the foreigner, was the only one who was gobbling them down ravenously. Adult Frenchmen typically only indulge on those sorts of sweets on occasion, and they normally opt for the carefully prepared fruit tart rather than the sugary beignet.
Of course, Pinterest is not the only culprit, but the recipes to be found there are a symptom of a very deeply rooted problem. I don’t know exactly at what point we started deep frying everything that we could fit into the vat of grease at the state fair, but I believe that at this point you can even get yourself a stick of deep fried butter.
When did the brownie, a particularly sweet, sticky, sugar filled type of cake, become not quite good enough to satisfy the American sweet tooth? What in the hell are we doing to ourselves? We are spending more on dental procedures, and medical procedures, and pharmaceuticals than the rest of the world. How hard is it to figure out that it is because of our damn food?
My host father is in his eighties now, and I don’t think that he will manage to make a trip to the states. Although there are some wonderful things that I would love to show him, I cannot say that I don’t think our food culture could scare the man to death.
I will do my best to keep talking to Americans about what we are eating though. Simple is actually a very good thing. Maybe it is time for us to take some steps back to simplicity so that we can move forward with our health.