It should go without saying our American culture is in love with food and eating. Cooking shows, eating shows, “betcha never ate this” shows. And if you’ve ever tried to follow the natural health or biblical admonition of fasting for a day or two you know exactly what I mean.
Every other supersized billboard, it seems, beckons us with a picture-perfect steak sliced to show a slightly pink center, replete with a baked potato split open and plumped up just right topped by a dollop of sour cream — with a swirl. Or a burger on a sesame seed bun is portrayed with a ripe red tomato slice partially slipped out one side, lettuce shooting out the other and a couple of rings of onion to boot, with cheese melted perfectly onto a steaming patty.
Funny, they never look like that when you undo the wrapper. Sometimes it appears someone sat on it before they handed it through the window.
Recently, one chain offered a burger that was seasoned — I assume that’s all it was — with bourbon. Jokingly, I told my wife the next time I appeared stressed out she could just take me to that place where they serve hamburgers with a shot of liquor in them.
“Better get it with jalapeños so they’ll burn the fat off,” she countered.
That hamburger is not advertised much anymore. I guess not many parents would sign the waiver for their underage child to consume a bourbon burger.
Then there’s the issue I have with salads. Blame it on the economy, but if you order a non-salad bar salad — you know, the one that comes on a plastic plate with the clear plastic hoodie — you don’t get as much as you used to. Even veggies are getting downsized! Worse, some of the chains have taken to putting fruit in their salads. Hey, if I wanted fruit salad I’d go to one of those boutique restaurants.
Worse still, a couple of my favorite franchise eateries have stopped carrying bleu cheese salad dressing. This is incomprehensible. These restaurants with huge American and some international markets make millions — judging by their own sales figures — and boast of using some of those dollars to make charitable donations back into the community through scholarships, camps, etc. And they can’t afford a few packets of bleu cheese salad dressing for when I grace their stores?
No bleu cheese, puh-leeze! You can even spell it “blue” — I don’t care!
Sometimes when I’m feeling pesky I’ll needle the clerk a bit and say, “I know you’ve got some bleu cheese back there somewhere — hand it over!” They give me the same look I get when we walk into a restaurant and the girl asks, “Two?” and I reply, “Yes, non-smoking, please.”
Conversely, I’m aware making light of a frivolous issue when there are severe hunger issues in the world today might not sit well with some. Toward that end I’ve even trained myself not to say “I’m starving!” when it’s simply my stomach reminding me it’s only been three hours since I stuffed it last.
Still, our newspaper ran a coupon circular recently advertising a hamburger absolutely slathered with bleu cheese.
Now you’re talking.
Mark Millican is a former Daily Citizen staff writer. You can follow him on Twitter, @ExtraByMark.