It’s almost the 4th of July! The day we celebrate our independence… from restraint, by grilling up the fattiest, juiciest meats we can find and covering them in melted cheese. Mmmmmmmerica!
On the heels of MSNBC’s list of the 20 Worst Kids’ Foods, Health Magazine has published a list of the 50 Fattiest Foods in the States. They offer a state-by-state tour of foods to avoid as you traverse the country looking for the best Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. (That show’s title is a real tongue-twister. It’s hard to properly pronounce, especially when you’re chewing a mouthful of nachos.) I’ll admit, I watch that show the way some men watch, uh, “movies” on the Internet. And when I was pregnant, I actually cried watching a program about sandwiches, so I’m pretty much in it to win it when it comes to mouth-wateringly good food.
But then there’s food so repelling, just hearing it described makes me sick. For example, the Quadruple Bypass Burger (pictured), which is estimated to be worth 8,000 calories. This colossal tower of cow is sold at Arizona’s grimly hilarious “Heart Attack Grill,” where patrons weighing over 350 pounds eat for free. According to Health, the four beef patties alone “clock in at around 60 grams of fat, well above the 20- to 35-gram limit the USDA recommends.” It should be noted that the Heart Attack Grill also pimps “Flatliner Fries,” Jolt Cola and, for your post-meal enjoyment, they have Lucky Strikes behind the counter – without a filter. My blood’s clotting just thinking about it.
A report from the Trust for America’s Health says, “Adult obesity rates increased in 28 states in the past year, and declined only in the District of Columbia.” Additionally, “more than 38 states have adult obesity rates above 25 percent. In 1991, no state had an obesity rate above 20 percent.” Does that mean that in a bull market, we all ate like pigs? Or that the recession has people emotionally eating? Of course poor people are statistically more obese than rich ones, but I bet there are more than a few calories in the Capital Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger with Truffle Fries.
So why are Americans fat, really? Speaking as a fat American, I think it’s because Americans fetishize food. After all, we coined the phrase, “Pizza is like sex. Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” That bumper sticker slogan sums up our contradictory feelings about food in a really neat, concise package. Food is bad. Bad food is good! Food is forbidden – like sex. It’s best eaten in a bedroom alone, naked. (Raise your hands if you’ve been there! And then go wipe the chocolate off them.)
It’s so strange that in America we look at natural things as being foreign and man-made chemical things as pedestrian. The culture of convenience created after WWII is killing us, even as it makes our lives “easier.” People of all walks of life are beginning to realize this, of course, and places like the “Heart Attack Grill” are seen as kitschy tourist traps, rather than a viable place to have dinner. Soon 8,000 calorie burgers will go the way of the soda fountain and end up a part of American nostalgia. So take your final bites, everyone. It’s time to turn over a new leaf – literally – and have some salad.
Photo: Heart Attack Grill