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Pollan’s Nightmare

November 15, 2017

Here’s the mantra. You’ve heard it before, but it’s short:

Eat food.
Not too much.
Mostly plants.

That’s from Michael Pollan. This isn’t news to regular readers of the FLB. And following this path has helped me to drop twenty pounds since the end of the summer. Remarkably, that weight has been staying off. Of course, there has been a little exercise too. But very, very little.

What’s funny is that I think the new Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse might be on the Michael Pollan diet.

Years ago, I gave up on that freakin’ onion. One bite was delicious. After two bites, I was full. And if I delved further into the abyss, I was full of self hatred. It may have been the onion that turned me off of Outback in general. I really don’t know. Because when I look back on my memories of the chain, they are filled with good times.

Well, on Sunday, the local Outback hosted a Yelp event for members of the Yelp Elite Squad, and there I got to try a couple of remarkable things from the new Big Australia Menu. One was a giant slab of chocolate cake. The other was a Bloomin’ Onion, topped with cheese, french fries, and steak.

In theory, this appetizer which reportedly weighs in at around 3000 calories is intended to be split by six people. At lunch yesterday, I split one with Little Miss Fussy and Albany Jane. And it should go without saying that this one appetizer alone was more than enough food to satisfy everyone at the table.

In theory, it’s also in Michael Pollan’s wheelhouse. It’s mostly onion and potato. Those are plants. Flour in the batter comes from a plant too. Even the frying oil is most likely plant based. Sure, there’s a little bit of cheese, and one cannot forget the steak. But the majority of the dish comes from plants.

Eat food. Check.
Mostly plants. Check.

Not too much? Well, we may have pushed it a little.

Never did I think we would finish the whole thing. But finish it we did. And then added a giant slice of chocolate cake to share for dessert. Mostly, because it comes with a raspberry sauce, and we had yet to have any fruit with our meal.

Probably, we should have skipped the cake. But Little Miss Fussy has a sweet tooth, and when I showed her pictures from the Yelp event, her eyes almost flew out of her head. It was absolutely delightful to show her a slice of the thing in person.

Still, at $13 this new onion can be a decadent meal for three people. Even if you add tax and tip, that’s one helluva deal. The hard thing, and this is what I always have struggled with at Outback, is passing up the onion and ordering anything else. But presumably people must do that, or maybe they order the onion and throw half of it away. Or maybe they just bring home most of their entree to eat some other time?

I have to imagine leftover steak is much more appealing and versatile than leftover fried onion.

One of these days, I’ll sit down at the bar and try to observe how other people eat. Probably while munching away on another one of these monsters. You know, provided I can find enough people to help me tackle the beast, so I don’t have to confront my own demons.

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