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Food Food Everywhere, But Not a Bite to Eat

September 12, 2018

There’s a reason I’m a little overweight. Occasionally, I eat like an asshole. Case in point was the Italian sausage and hot beef sandwich I had at Midway Airport on Saturday night, even though I had just finished dinner and wasn’t even hungry.

Fortunately, I don’t eat second dinner all the time. In fact, these days that’s exceedingly rare.

It’s amazing at how quickly the pounds can come off when you stop eating like a jerk. However, the older I get, I’ve been noticing that those pounds aren’t quite coming off at the rate they used to in the past.

But I’m convinced that the trouble befalling our nation, as our bellies grow and our health declines, is traced to a different malady. It’s that so much food isn’t really food. And once again, after a brief stay in a perfectly lovely hotel, I was reminded of that every day.

So many hotels provide their guests with complementary breakfasts. It’s a nice perk to be able to roll out of bed, and grab a little something to start off the day.

At home, my breakfasts are very simple. Most days, it’s a little bit of plain unsweetened yogurt, and an even smaller bit of lightly sweetened granola. I’ll usually crush up a few walnuts on top, for some omega threes, and bit more staying power. And the whole thing is washed down with black coffee.

I eat it because it’s delicious, satisfying, and makes me feel good. But it’s also low in calories, high in fiber, full of probiotics, and low in cholesterol. I presume there are some carbs in there, but they are mostly complex ones from whole grain oats. Whatever. It’s all real food, and low in sugar.

The complementary breakfast buffet at almost every hotel I’ve stayed at is impressive in its bounty. But to my eye, there is almost no food on display.

Pastries will keep you from being hungry, but they are just white flour, fat, and sugar. And I don’t have anything against that either. Except these are all clearly industrially produced, and not nearly worth the fat or calorie hit they would produce. The pastries are pasty and gummy, and but a faint shadow of the deliciousness they seem to be. If you’re going to eat things that make you fat, you might as well choose something amazing.

For what it’s worth, that airport sandwich was pretty epic.

Bagels were a staple of my people for years. You know, when we didn’t have enough food to eat, and needed cheap calories to survive. So eating a gut bomb of white flour schmeared with fat and stinky fish parts that nobody else wanted at the time made a ton of sense. These days? Not so much.

If that one bagel is going to be your caloric intake for most of the day, by all means, go for it. Although at a hotel, when it’s a squishy weird little round thing that more closely resembles a roll, it might not be worth your time.

Oatmeal. Oatmeal is sometimes the savior. You can have a packet of instant oats—or minute oats—and while it’s not as good as the slow cooked version, at least it’s food. Except for some reason, many hotels only provide packets of the highly highly sweetened versions of the stuff. Maybe I could eat a bite or two of these sticky confections. But they are as sweet as dessert, and not nearly as much fun.

Breakfast cereal is not a lot of help either. My favorite pastime is blearily reading the ingredients on those tiny individual serving boxes before having my first cup of coffee. Cereal marketers are the best kind of marketers. They are so conniving and misleading, it’s inspiring.

Total claims that the first ingredient is whole grains. But the second ingredient is sugar. Any guess to the third ingredient?

Sugar.

Sure, both sugars are different types of sugar. But they are sugar nonetheless. And since ingredients are listed in order by weight, one has to wonder if whole grains would still be the first ingredient if the two sugars were combined into a single ingredient item.

Maybe it would. It’s not as if the cereal is super sweet. But those marketers are a sneaky bunch. It wasn’t too long ago that the first ingredient in many cereals was actually sugar. I’ve still got my doubts that anything has really changed.

Yogurt is the worst. My kingdom for a plain unsweetened yogurt at a hotel breakfast bar! Seriously people, it shouldn’t be that hard. But no. Every. Single. Cup. Is filled with sugar. Lots of sugar.

Splenda totally counts as sugar in my book, because it’s a sugar substitute. It’s even worse, because now people are putting sweetener in places where it doesn’t belong, simply because it doesn’t add any calories. Blech.

Yes. There are always bananas. But bananas are binding. Road trips are bad enough when away from your regular foods to have something that will keep you from being regular.

Look. It’s fun to rant. But there is a serious dark side here. And that is all of these foods are packed with sugar and refined grains. They are lacking in nutrition, seriously devoid of vegetables, and are questionably even food. And they will make you fat without having any fun.

This is the state of food in America. Well, it’s food for a lot of people. It looks a lot like food, but it’s missing the foodiness of food. And the more this is normalized, the more people will forget what food is actually supposed to be. Like the tragic story of bread.

It’s a vicious cycle, and eventually we’ll simply turn into the humans from Wall-E. Assuming, that is, if we’re not already there.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. albanylandlord permalink
    September 12, 2018 2:43 pm

    The State of Food in the US… Thanks for the reminder of the bread rant, I’m full on board with that.
    I usually go with the protein in the free hotel breakfast. Hard boiled eggs are common. Bacon and sausage are not great for me but I figure they are more real than most of the other choices and I limit my volume. My guess is even fake eggs are better than other fake food, but maybe that is just hopeful thinking.

    • enough already! permalink
      September 13, 2018 12:05 pm

      Yes, fortunately many hotels have hard boiled eggs at their free breakfast. That on a toasted English muffin with some bacon is pretty good.

  2. September 12, 2018 11:28 pm

    I’ve seen a pancake making machine at the breakfast bar in several Holiday Inns. The pancakes it makes are awful but the machine is downright hypnotic.

    • September 13, 2018 10:04 am

      I have a hard time resisting the waffle irons at Comfort Inn. I even have a favorite hack: I take a couple of the little containers of rock-hard butter and set them on top of the metal while the waffle is cooking (taking care not to let the plastic melt) so the butter will be soft enough to spread.

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