Health Notes

Fad facts 

You may recall that a few issues ago I was complaining about the high-carbohydrate/vegetarian, nutrition-free food advocates calling the high-animal-fat, animal-protein diet a fad. I pointed out that the 20th Century punk diet-sugar, vegetable fats, soy protein-has been the REAL fad diet of the century.

But my nutritional opponents might actually be right. The American people, big on dieting with great resolution and determination-for awhile-spend a few weeks loading up on all those low-carb labeled foods, which really doesn’t do much, since these pre-packaged imposters still usually have too many carbs (and aren’t good for you anyway). And when they don’t see those immediate weight-loss results (due to their own laziness, but who’s going to admit that?), they quickly revert to their old habits of stuffing themselves with french fries, pastry, and Coca Cola.

When you look at the low-carb revolution this way, it is a fad. But it’s not the diet itself that’s a fad-it’s the American public’s attitude toward it.

Action to take:

Forget the labels! Stick with the easy, obvious choices: meat, animal fat, and fresh vegetables. They may not have “low-carb” plastered on their packaging, but these foods are the real deal.


“Most low-carb dieters eat too many carbs-study,” Reuters Health News, 4/5/04

More (tobacco) food for thought 

I mentioned tobacco cuisine a couple of months ago, in the May issue. At the time, I thought it was an amusing idea, but I didn’t think anything much would come of it. But it looks like the tobacco-eating movement is well under way.

Unfortunately the U.S. has become such a puritanical nut house over smoking that many leading chefs in this country are afraid to use tobacco flavoring.

Alex Garcia, the chef of Patria restaurant in New York, was tempted to serve a coffee- and tobacco-infused chocolate truffle. “I do Latin American cuisine,” he said, “and since tobacco is the epitome of the Cubans, I really wanted to do a dessert called coffee and cigarettes,” but “I just don’t feel comfortable with using regular tobacco or chopped up cigars.”

OK, Alex, so you are a weenie.

The British edition of The Art of the Tart, a cookbook by Tamasin Day-Lewis, included a recipe for fig tart with tobacco syrup. Her editor in New York took the tobacco syrup out of the recipe in the American edition.

“It’s an absolutely wonderful dish,” Ms. Day-Lewis said in an interview with The New York Times. “The gingery innards of figs are not unlike tobacco, and the combination is magical. You have the dryness of the tobacco alongside the bosky figs. It’s really sad that it’s not in the American version.”

Her American editor, Pamela Cannon, said, “I just didn’t want anyone to open the book onto that recipe and be turned off.”

Another New York wuss.

And speaking of weenies and wusses, let’s not leave out the public health Big Brains who are about to have an epileptic fit over chefs using tobacco as a flavoring.

When she broached the subject to these “protectors” of our health, Times reporter Melissa Clark was met with “explosive rejection” of the idea of using tobacco in food. Of course, they couldn’t actually cite any evidence of a possible harmful effect-but who needs evidence when “everybody knows”

I’ll tell you what’s REALLY dangerous in these dishes-all the sugar that accompanies the tobacco in the desserts. I say skip the extra carbs and enjoy a nice cigar (not inhaled) as your dessert instead.


“Hmm, Hot and Spicy. It’s What? Tobacco?!” The New York Times, 1/31/01