Thursday 7 July 2011

Junk Food Horror and National Obesity

FRIDAY: It's not that I have anything against the University cleaners -- in fact I quite like them and always say hello. But because they have decided to start taking their group break at the same time I have my lunch break, I have moved from the normally quiet Staff Room across the library and into the din of the café. Because I'm trying to absorb an especially demanding section of my book on intellectual property, I find the general cacophony of the buzzing of cafe fridges mixed with several different conversations easier to deal with than five cleaners joining into one debate about pensions, holidays, and television. When I lived on a hillside in Seattle overlooking the vibrant city centre and Lake Union, I found it much easier to sleep through the early morning cosmopolitan symphony of train whistles, ferry horns, drawbridge horns, circling seagulls, flapping skeins of Canadian geese, muffled I-5 and I-99 traffic than it was to sleep through a single drunk person sitting on the steps outside expounding at 2am about life and betrayed love.

Sorry, I'm just an overworked grumpy woman these days.

My sandwich is mature cheddar with red onion, English mustard, and sliced olives on a cheese and onion rustic roll, with peach, pineapple, and apple slices. It's quite civilised and soothes that coolant roar.

THE NEXT WEDNESDAY: What a lovely way to start lunch: I spilled my water all over my crotch thanks to lack of sleep because I was worrying about money because the University neglected to pay me for all of the extra hours at which I've been slaving away to make ends meet. So not only am I skint, too skint to buy an espresso to keep myself awake, but I have a sopping wet crotch. And I forgot to put my tuna sandwich in the fridge, so I'm hoping it doesn't poison me.

THURSDAY: There's not much to talk about this week, but I have invented two lovely sandwiches. The Cheshire Cat is made with Cheshire cheese with chopped red pepper, spring onion, thin shavings of courgette, and tarragon. And today the Cosmopolitan is a mixture of the last of the Dulce Latte with the last bit of Cheshire and spring onion and roasted red pepper. I pity the poor lunchers munching on lesser sarnies.

THE FOLLOWING MONDAY: Lunch on this hot steamy day is pesto-topped houmus and black pepper cream cheese on a brown breadcake seasoned with fresh basil and black and cayenne pepper and finished with a layer of mixed sprouts. They're English sprouts, for those of you who may think I'm dangerously careless -- they are not from the German sprout farm in the news recently as being the source of the E coli epidemic. Mind you, I still don't eat cucumbers, but that's merely because I don't like them.

Speaking of food from other countries brings me to a shocking photo in last week's Guardian. It was taken at the San Diego County Fair in California and showed a junk food stand to shame all junk food stands. The chocolate-covered bacon was bad enough, and the deep-fried quesadillas seemed a bit superfluous. (Aren't they already called chimichangas?) The truly revolting menu item, the largest mentioned on the sign, was deep-fried butter. My stomach is lurching in horror as I write this. It makes The Human Centipede seem as benign as a brass band concert. I honestly don't know if I can sleep anymore now that I know somebody, somewhere in the world, is not only making and selling deep-fried butter, but that people -- my fellow Californians -- must be actually buying it and eating it.

I must give credit to the photographer for including only one fat person in the photo. I feel as though I spend half of my social time convincing my British friends that I am not the only skinny American in the world. Because of the sensational newspapers that too many Brits read, along with the skewed views of America presented by the "Top Gear" boys and Louis Theroux' oddball documentaries, many of my British friends think the average American rolls around at 28 stone and lives on 6-pound cheeseburgers and 16-egg omelettes. Certainly the current statistic that 1 in every 3 Americans is obese is shocking -- but according to the NHS, 1 in every 4 Brits is obese. So this country isn't that far behind. I've lived in the UK for over a decade now, and I've seen portions in British restaurants increase in size. Not only that, but video games, Internet browsing, and TV are just as popular in the UK as they are in America.

So put that fork down, turn off that giant flat-screen TV, and quit complaining about fat Americans! (There. I've said it. I'm not so grumpy now.)

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