March 01, 2003

Big, Fat Lies

This is a further development of a ranting comment I left on Juan Gato's site in this post. It's not enough that Americans are being painted as the Warlike Nation of Bloodlust and Disturbing Loud Noises as Opposed to the Peaceful Bambilike European Nations of Love 'N' Hugs, now they are trying to pretend that the ideal human body in European culture all the way back to Classical Greece and before wasn't to be as FAT FAT FAT as possible. Here's a sample from the latest lying article spreading this LIE:

Nearly one-third of all Europeans are obese because of fast-food consumption and sedentary lifestyles, and nations must encourage healthier habits, a U.N. agency warned Friday.

Obesity, once considered mostly an American problem, now is prevalent in European countries, where traditional diets have been associated with long life and good health, the World Health Organization said.

Why you little lying liars. Let me tell you something about "healthy, long-lived" Europeans on their "traditional diets" of grease, salt, and the fat part of dairy products. In 1981 my mother and I took a trip to Europe. We spent about a week and a half in England and Scotland, and another week and a half taking the train through the Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany, Swizerland, Austria, and France. Let me tell you about how every single European we talked to told us: "American women are too thin!" "You are too thin, you Americans need to eat more! try this!" And we were wined and dined and stuffed with about two billion calories worth of chocolate, fat, cream, and fat. Now, my mother and I were not "thin" by American standards in 1981. We were normal. By the time we left Europe I had gained twenty pounds and so had my mother. I couldn't fit into the new outfits my mother had insisted I buy before we left.

Oh, and you want to know where the fattest people we saw were? England. Yeah, especially the kids. The babies were so fat they had no necks, and they couldn't lay their arms flat against their sides. I was afraid to brush up against one; I was terrified they would pop, like a grape. My mother and I talked to a group of preteen boys who looked like miniature linebackers. Of course every meal in England was accompanied by chips (fries), and every vegetable was overcooked to mush. We had to eat Chinese food to get some vegetables that didn't fall apart when your fork touched them.

The weight gain of Euros being the fault of Evil, Bloblike Americans and their soylent-green-like food is a big, steaming heap of bullshit. I know my trip was more than twenty years ago but I am damn sure nothing has changed in "traditional," hidebound Europe all that much. McDonalds was popular then because you could get cheap meat that didn't have the consistency of shoe leather (unlike the impossible-to-chew piece of beef I had in Frankfurt, and the rubber-like rabbit I ate, or rather attempted to eat, in Geneva -- yes, I ate Bugs Bunny, or rather, his ancient and extremely tough grandpa). Also, the food at McDonalds is packed with fattening grease and artery-destroying salt, which Europeans LOVE.

I hate lies.

PS: More proof of the fat-worship of Europeans: here, some reproductions of ancient mother-goddess-figurine-things; the Venus de Milo isn't exactly skinny, is she?; here's Bacchus, by Rubens (everyone knows Rubens especially loved fatties); here's a painting of Pygmalion and Galatea by some French dude in the 18th century; and this is Rubens' idea of a skinny broad. Fat and European, all of them -- and all (except for the French one) conceived before America was even a European king's bad dream.

Posted by Andrea Harris at March 1, 2003 02:33 AM

Don't hold it back, Andrea, it'll just give you apoplexy: tell us all what you REALLY think. :) Actually, from everything I've ever heard about English cooking, McDonald's would actually be healthier and tastier; I sometimes think my own family on my mother's side, in its cookery of vegetables, read one too many English "cookbooks". Credit must go where credit is due, and IMNSHO the Chinese have superior skills when it comes to cooking vegetables. You can't overcook them; it not only reduces them to unmanipulatable and unpalatable mush, as you noted, it wrecks the nutrient content.

Posted by: Joe at March 1, 2003 at 08:31 AM

I'm not angry exactly, but I am a bit incredulous by this assertion about "healthy" European foods. I mean come on...

Scotland is credited with being the originator of the deep-fried Mars bar--yes, a chocolate candybar dipped in batter and fried in hot fat. England is synonymous with deep-fried fish-n-chips. Germans put fried eggs on top of their breaded and pan-fried baby cows (aka veal/wienerschnitzel). French cooking is infamous for the copious amounts of cream and butter used. Check the fat and calorie count on Italian Tiramisu, or consider Greek hummus or babaganoush (made with tahini that has more fat per tablespoon than actual FATS do--i.e. butter or vegetable oil)?

Sure, the U.S. may be the purveyor of fast food joints, but we don't and never will have the corner market on fatting foods.

Posted by: Leigh-Anne at March 1, 2003 at 09:03 AM

I hear you! I was always having food pushed on me.

and my grandparents, aunts, uncles all came from England and most of them were way overweight. Stroke is the big killer in my family.

Posted by: Ith at March 1, 2003 at 09:25 AM

I spent a summer in Spain many years ago. Absolute strangers would come to me on the street and say, "you should eat more."

Posted by: Don at March 1, 2003 at 11:55 AM

Once, when eating in a small local restaurant in Germany, I was offered schmaltz – a cold lump of lard – to spread thickly on bread. This was in addition to a wide selection of fat boiled sausages.

After that, I only ate at Greek, Turkish or Italian restaurants. No schmaltz, and the service was better. In Britain, after seeing ‘beans on toast’ on a menu, I stuck with Chinese and Indian take-away. Northern European food is fatty, starchy, tasteless – and expensive. I’m not even going to mention the horrors of haggis. A must-miss.

Posted by: mary at March 1, 2003 at 12:46 PM

Three small, essentially meaningless observations.

When I was in Germany on business, they said things like "How are you dealing the the heavy German food?" Apparently Americans often don't do well. (I did fine - meat, potatoes and gravy is staple in my family)

How are the NOW feminazis taking this report? (You know, the ones that claim that American culture drives girls to starve themselves). Apparently, America is a society of fat anorexics.

Rubens and fat women: Between the deli sandwiches and the candy bars, what can you expect from a guy named Peter Paul Rubens?

Okay, apologies for that last one, I know it was a cheap joke.

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 1, 2003 at 01:06 PM

Andrea, quit with the sexy pictures already. I LOVE big women.

Posted by: Kim du Toit at March 1, 2003 at 01:40 PM

For Kim: A lyric from an old country song (can't remember who sang it):

"Warm in the winter, shady in the summertime,
That's what I like about that fat gal of mine"

Posted by: Ken Summers at March 1, 2003 at 01:48 PM

"Andrea, quit with the sexy pictures already. I LOVE big women".

Same here, Kim!

German food varies with the region you are in, but it generally is pretty heavy. If I eat in a restaurant I usually take a big salad. At home I mostly make Italian or Greek dishes for myself.

Even so I like to go to McDonald's and Burger King, too. Turkish fast food is also pretty good, I think.

Posted by: Ralf Goergens at March 1, 2003 at 02:03 PM

Reminds me of wondering why the Belgians weren't ALL 1000 pounds and wider than they were tall, since their diet appeared to consist largely of beer, chocolate and French fries in mayonnaise. Oh, and waffles of course--covered in chocolate or smothered in powdered sugar. Of course, they eat seafood, too, but mostly fatty shellfish (mussels in Brussels, duh) and even then, accompanied with fries and beer (and presumably chocolate dessert to follow).

Posted by: David Jaroslav at March 1, 2003 at 03:26 PM

As a Southerner, I take offense at your horrible insults of vegetables boiled until soggy. Why would you want to each vegetables cooked otherwise?

Posted by: John Thacker at March 1, 2003 at 05:49 PM

I'm a southerner too, but I am afraid that is one southern taste that I have never developed. If vegetables are going to be cooked to mush, that better be because they are part of the sauce that goes with lamb vindaloo.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 1, 2003 at 06:06 PM

Mmmmm...Venus De Milo.
Well proportioned but she does have a problem with the fingernail chewing.

Posted by: Brand C at March 1, 2003 at 06:16 PM

I'm a Southerner, born and bred (South Carolina), and I say that the practice of boiling vegetables to mush is the weak point of Southern cuisine. So there. (Oh, yeah, and I don't particularly like grits either.)

Posted by: Joe at March 1, 2003 at 09:55 PM

Now, I do love grits. Of course the only way to eat them properly is with lots of butter and salt. (I never said I didn't like the Eurodiet.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 1, 2003 at 10:22 PM

How do some Europeans stay a thin eating all that fattening food? Simple: they SMOKE.

Posted by: Katherine at March 2, 2003 at 12:59 AM

My mother smoked as much as a Frenchwoman. But her Camels were no proof against the power of Eurocalories.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at March 2, 2003 at 01:21 AM

Let me tell you something about that "artery clogging" business: Americans have for decades been longer-lived than most Europeans, although a few of them tended to live a little longer than us.

Our "unhealthy" diet has never been particularly worse than theirs.

The real problem is that food just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper by the calorie. Fast or slow, the bottom line is that food is easier to get all the time.

Posted by: Dean Esmay at March 2, 2003 at 05:02 AM

My Granny lived to be 90 and my Gramps lived to 94 in rural Poland. My family's whole village is in great shape and they eat, eat, eat. I lost 28lbs in 6 weeks visiting there. I ate a lot and dessert too.

They don't snack between meals. No chips and candy and crap like that. Four meals - that's it.

Of course, that's the new Europe not the old...

Posted by: Rosemary Esmay at March 2, 2003 at 09:55 AM

The main problem is that that these eating habits are traditional. There is nothing wrong with having a calorie loaded diet if you have a lifestyle like the majority of people in America and Europe had a century ago--one in which there was a lot of manual labor involved. If you burn a lot of calories then you need to take in a lot of calories. The problem now is that the lifestyles have changed but the diet remains the same as it was long ago.

There is no mystery here.

Posted by: tcobb at March 2, 2003 at 12:46 PM

I was watching the Food Network and the show was in Scotland. Not only deep-fried candy bars, but deep-fried pizza and they even deep-fried a pickled egg, a glass jar full of pickled eggs was sitting on top of the counter.


Posted by: Sandy P. at March 2, 2003 at 01:12 PM