September 2014


Author: Barry Kaufman | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Food is awesome, right? I’m not going to make any enemies putting that out there. Not a lot of people are running around talking about how great starvation is, so I’ll go out on a limb and say we’re all fairly pro-food here.

But here’s the problem. I am militantly pro food. I once, hand to God, almost picketed a Weight Watchers clinic. I’m so pro food, I only feel comfortable watching the Food Network with the curtains drawn and the family out of town.

And why am I so pro food?

Because as I said, food is awesome. Food is art.

Food is man’s ability to say to the world, “Yes, on a basic level we require intake of calories to survive. But just for giggles, let’s see what those calories taste like deep fried and slathered in Guy Fieri Donkey Sauce.”

That’s how awesome food is: There is a condiment with the truly horrifying name of Donkey Sauce, which was invented by the portliest member of the only all-goblin boy band, and people still eat it.

That’s why we as a species didn’t just stop at eating roots and berries. Now that we’ve moved past that basic eat-to-survive mode, we find ourselves at a stage in history where we can delicately slice those roots, intricately layer them on a compote of berries and mango salsa, and dip pita triangles in them. Then we can realize that tastes gross and we can go eat a steak.

My passion for food doesn’t necessarily make me a good cook or even what some might call a “foodie.” It does, however, tend to make me a little larger than I like to be, particularly around the moob area. So I have, on occasion, entertained the notion of dieting. One time, for example, I went on the South Beach Diet. No joke, I lost 70 pounds. I later found them all, and they brought friends.

But here’s the thing. The food you eat when you’re doing these diets? It’s not food. It’s pretend food. It’s turkey pretending to be bacon. Tofu pretending to be steak.

Whatever the hell they put in garden burgers pretending not to be industrial waste. It’s all fake. You lose weight not because of the quote-unquote food you’re eating, but because of all the food you are not eating.

This point was driven home to me when, on another recent ill-advised stab at weight loss, I started juicing. I bought the juicer, I loaded up on plant life that I’d never seen before, plant life that could have come from Venus for all I know, and ran it all through a machine.

The result was a healthy mix of vitamins and nutrients that could just barely pass as juice if you put enough rum in it. But then I found myself emptying out the back of the juicer and noticing that that’s where all the food wound up. I’d get a cup of sickly orangey, greenish, purplish stuff that smelled like my lawn, and I’d throw a perfectly good salad into the compost bin.

Some of you may argue that a salad is not food, particularly the sweatier among you, but please understand that here I’m using food in its strictest technical sense. The stuff that came out of the back of the juicer at least had some physical substance and could be chewed upon. The stuff that came out of the front of the juicer looked like someone had liquefied an Oompa Loompa—and that was the side that was supposed to be my food.

I’ll never know if I could have lost weight by throwing away all my food and drinking what’s left, because I was literally fighting my way through a cup of beet juice when I got the e-mail asking to write this column.

The juicer has sat unmolested by Venusian cabbages ever since. Because in brainstorming for this column, I realized one undeniable fact: Food is awesome.

Also beet juice is disgusting. Not Donkey Sauce disgusting, but pretty close.

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