Overheard in NY

[Patrol car flashing lights at curb. Small group of high-schoolers corralled against wall]
Police officer: So what happened –what did you see?
Sharp teen: No hablo inglés.
Officer, in perfect Spanish: Entonces, que pasó? Qué viste?
Smart teen: No hablo español!

Yesterday, I overheard the following on the subway here in Toronto:

babysitter to toddler in stroller: We’re going home now.

toddler: But I don’t want to go home!

babysitter: Oh, but we need to go home, mommy will be there

toddler after thinking a bit: I don’t like mommy.

Food that has conquered aging

Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, is known to carry around, for years, the same two pieces of processed/industrialized cakes. They showed no signs of spoilage. When someone I know went to one of his lectures and told me that, I immediately remembered a friend of mine who did a test in school in which the students had to analyze the natural breakup of minimally-processed foods vs the stuff we get at fast-food joints. They took a Big Mac and a homemade hamburger and watched it during a week. They were both made on the same day and each day changes were noticed on the homemade hamburger, whose bread started breaking up sooner, its lettuce went limp after one day, and by the end of the week, it smelled awful and had mold all over it. Meanwhile, the Big Mac looked exactly the same. I thought that was pretty scary. But yesterday a friend sent me this video, which showed by a three-year-old McDonald’s hamburger and fries looked like. Very scary.

I lived in the US when I was 6 years old and fell under the spell of Ronald McDonald and his friends. The year after we returned to Brazil, Rio de Janeiro had its first McDonald’s and my brothers and I were in heaven. We loved it, as many children do. In Brazil, North-American fast food franchises is not really the cheap food of the masses – there’s plenty of cheaper, healthier alternatives around – but rather, it is considered a treat to go to McDonald’s or Pizza Hut. My brothers still consider it a big treat, take their children to it, and speak of McDonald’s lovingly whenever they happen to live in a city without a franchise. I slowly weaned out, becoming more suspicious of the kind of food served in fast food restaurants here in Canada. I would spend over a year without going to McDonald’s and then when I did, my stomach always hurt afterward. And after watching the video mentioned above, my suspicions only get solidified.

I have nothing against eating hamburgers, french fries, muffins, etc, but I’d rather make those at home or eat them in places where you know that french fries are simply potatoes that have been cut that day and fried. Not some freak of nature that has conquered aging and looks unspoiled after three years.

Click here for an interview with Michael Pollan