Rules To Eat By

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An American style milkshake in part requires a blend that will stand a spoon but can be sipped from a straw without much trouble. Response to last week's ranking of ten different milkshakes, however, suggests some people really don't consider the difference between a milkshake and stirred up ice cream very important--to which I reply, no biggie: just admit, if you like cups thick as concrete and impossible to draw through a straw, you really don't like milkshakes.

Nope, you like barely softened ice cream.

Who doesn't? But it brings to mind other culinary rules that perhaps should be made clear. Example: If you like steak well done, you don't really like steak.

That's right, you don't like steak.

Beef is not very resilient. It yields character to sauces, seasonings and to heat. Cooking cuts all the way through saps the meat of fat--a source of flavor and silky mouth feel--and burns in elements from the pan, including the nice, bittersweet crust of scorched fat and seasoning. If you like steak well done, this char is what you really crave.

Had they opened a McDonald's in, say, 1880s Wichita, it would have been wildly popular.

Yep. In an era when people were more likely to eat locally and seasonally--and, more importantly, in an era before efficient stoves, home refrigeration and other such conveniences--women toiled all day to prepare three meals. Shortages of certain meats, fruits and vegetables also meant going without favorites for long stretches of time...although rarity made the taste of some things memorable, if Laura Ingalls Wilder and her encounter with lemonade is to be believed. So imagine the sudden availability of fast food in such a world.

While there's nothing really all that wrong with fast food burger joints--it's a short order item, after all--there's a lot wrong with Olive Garden.

Italian dishes are best when prepared simply with fresh ingredients. Better to find a mom and pop joint where they cook pasta right than rely on corporate stock and less than concerned kitchen staff. Or just stay home and open some dry spaghetti and a jar of Prego.

That being said, ordering lightly dressed pasta dishes (such as carbonara or Alfredo) is a waste of money.

Order if you really enjoy the stuff, of course. But the marginal difference between pasta you cook at home and pasta you pay $15 for in a restaurant is slight. And the original food cost? Laughably minimal. Pasta dishes based around intricate sauces--now that's different.

Skim milk, two percent milk and fat-free half and half are just wrong.

Unless there's a medical reason for using white water or milk and corn syrup (though it's really hard to imagine a medical reason to use fat-free half and half, it is far better to enjoy life and real flavor.

Eat less, exercise more.

All this fascination with low-fat foods, raw foods and fad diets overlooks the obvious. Unless you truly enjoy skim milk, raw foods or Jenny Craig (or your doctor advises such), there's no reason to deny yourself life's good things. Geez--take a walk every morning.

Which brings me to the final point: American's aren't as fat as we're told. But we are far more gullible than we realize.

Otherwise, Glenn Beck wouldn't have a TV show.

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