The Top 5 Foods That Are Not Worth the Effort

The Top 5 Foods that are Not Worth the Trouble

Everybody today wants to label the food we eat. By that, I don’t mean labeling in a nutritional sense but rather how it fits into this or that particular diet. I’m a big Pinterest fan. I use it for just about everything but it is especially good for recipes. My friend Dave tells me that Pinterest is for girls and he may be right but as a cook, it is like having access to every cookbook ever written and it takes up no more space than my tablet. The point is that while you can do a search for favorite Italian recipes, say, you will produce, at least in my experience, a more broad return if you search for “low carb” recipes.

It’s no longer just Italian recipes at that point, it becomes a low carb smorgasbord from all four corners of the world. Besides, I don’t believe there are any low carb Italian dishes anyway so this might be a bad example, There’s “high-protein,” high-protein / low carb.” For those of you looking to spend more quality time in the bathroom there is “high fiber.” “Low fat,” “low glycemic,” “vegan,” “non-GMO,” “kosher,” ‘gluten free,” etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

What the hell is gluten anyway and why have so many people all of the sudden decided that it’s bad for them? I looked it up:

Gluten refers to the proteins found in wheat endosperm (a type of tissue produced in seeds that’s ground to make flour). Gluten both nourishes plant embryos during germination and later affects the elasticity of dough, which in turn affects the chewiness of baked wheat products.

Wheat sperm? Had I known that, I would be allergic too.

For what it’s worth, my favorite food category would be the, “I don’t give a fuck anymore and want as much fat and sperm-less gluten as I can get, with a nice dose of sugar for good measure and please deep fry it for me while you’re at it.”

I like a good recipe. I don’t care if it’s complicated and comes with a shopping list that takes me to a couple of specialty stores. If it’s as delicious as I think it’s going to be then it’s worth the effort. Homemade vanilla ice cream that requires fresh vanilla bean? Worth it. I made a Baked Spanish Risotto that asked for Spanish Saffron that I had to buy on the internet because I couldn’t find it anyplace else. Totally worth it.

I make the best hummus you’ll ever eat and I painstakingly peel ever single garbanzo bean so that I can be sure that it will be creamy and delicious. My hummus is so good that any self-respecting Middle-Easterner would have no other option but to hang their head and agree. As I said, though, it takes hours to make. Like I need time alone after I finish a batch so I can recover mentally but it’s worth it.

There are foods, however, that I will not mess with. Stupid foods that, even in their most basic form, like right off the tree, require much but return little or nothing. These are foods we’ve all eaten but probably never to take a step back and say, “Man, this sucks and I just wasted a decent sized piece of my life preparing it.” Allow me, now, to save you some sweat and disappointment.

Watermelon

Why are these things so big? Yes, I am aware that they have genetically altered this god awful fruit into smaller sizes and even weird shapes but let me tell you something, you can have a stripper pop out of it when I cut it open and I still don’t want it. You drag this monstrosity into the house, cut it open, take one bite and you’re like, “Oh, that’s not what I was hoping for.” Now what? What am I supposed to do with it now? What is with all the seeds? Black ones, white ones, everyone is spitting. Disgusting.

I think people used to like watermelon back in the day but then Jolly Ranchers came along and set a flavor expectation bar that this poor pod just couldn’t live up to. Everyone loves watermelon Jolly Ranchers, they’re always the first ones gone from the pack. Nobody likes those light blue ones though, whatever flavor that’s supposed to be. The light blue ones remind me of medicine like a menthol cough drop or somethings which further spoils them. Can you imagine if you tasted the watermelon Jolly Rancher before the actual watermelon?

Wide eyed innocent fruit virgin – “Oh my God, that was so delicious and you’re telling me that the real thing is a twenty pound version of this?!?! Holy shit!”

Hardened produce veteran – “Well, kind of. I mean, yes, but in a really tasteless, watered down, seed-filled nightmarish kind of way.”

Watermelons are so enormous that people actually form them into serving baskets complete with a handle and jagged edges like the artist sliced it with pinking shears. Filled with disgusting chunks of other hellish tasting melon varieties like honeydew and cantaloupe, this basin of foulness is the fruit equivalent of a green bean casserole that nobody wants.

Dogs are supposed to like fruit. There are fruits you don’t want to feed your dog like grapes and things with seeds but on any list of things that I’ve seen of “what not to feed your dog” watermelon is absent. Okay, great! Sophie, our dog, loves people food, Let’s unload some of this eyesore on her. Mind you, this is a dog that eats her own vomit and yet will not even approach watermelon to even give it a sniff. It’s like, “Yeah, I saw that shit on the counter for the last few days and, no, I do not want any. Thanks though”

I can tolerate any culinary disappointment if it’s the size of, say, a Hershey’s kiss, but this thing weighs twenty pounds and is the size of a Buick. My kids wont even eat it. So it sits there until we throw it away or some genius puts it in the blender with some lemonade and vodka. End result of the watermelon? I’m either disappointed or drunk.

Mango

Not really sure when the mango was introduced in the Midwest United States. I think it fell sometime around the introduction of the kiwi. Back when we became bored with simple apples and oranges the produce door was left open for some foreign neophytes to make the scene. No doubt the kiwi has its own carving issues but not nearly as extensive as the exasperating mango. First of all, how are you supposed to get the peel off of this thing? It feels like human skin. Like old people skin. All loose and gross.

I am always astounded at how little fruit actually comes from mangoes. If they were sold by the pound, I would not be a buyer as most of it goes right in the trash. Between the rind and the gigantic seed there is little room left for any edible fruit. Even if you somehow manage to get the skin off, how are you supposed to extract it from the seed? I have yet to win a battle with a mango. In every case I end up with a handful of mangled, wet, yellow meat and a big dose of feeling like I’ve been sold a bill of goods.

I also believe that if you were to blindfold a person and give them their first taste of a mango, they would swear that you just fed them rotten cantaloupe. The mango has made some inroads into your salsa and chutney markets but even in those cases, the taste is so overbearing and out of the ordinary that it’s all you can taste.

It’s a very sinewy fruit too. Like it has ligaments and tendons or something. Couple that with it having human skin and I feel like I’m eating my grandmother’s rotten, severed hand.

Like the watermelon, though, mangoes go great blended up with some vodka and sour mix. You can’t really ever get rid of the sinewy texture in a mango either, no matter how long you blend it, which leaves you drinking what feels like a vodka flavored ball of yarn martini.

Artichokes

If there was an award for the most useless waste of materials in a given vegetable, why there would be such an award is beyond me but work with me here, it would be the artichoke. When I was a kid, my friends mom tried to sell me on dipping these rather cumbersome and disgusting looking leaves in butter and, using my two front teeth, scrape off the gelatinous sac of green material at it’s base then throw the rest of it in the garbage. Even at that age I thought, “This cannot be all there is to this thing.” It’s basically a disgusting vegetable manipulated into as a spoon with the sole purpose of ingesting melted butter. Why don’t we all just dispense with the artichoke and just fess up that we no longer require it to justify the eating of liquefied animal fat.

Apparently, the heart of this abomination is used to make spinach artichoke dip. I hate spinach artichoke dip. It smells. Bad. Like the worst smell of all foods ever. I wont eat it and just being near it makes me feel like I am going to throw up.

So, two substantial honors for the much adored artichoke, the biggest waste of space and the foulest smelling concoction made using said artichoke. These things aren’t cheap either. Disgusting, useless and expensive? Nice combo.

Pomegranate

I must say that in comparison to the aforementioned botanical abominations, the pomegranate is really not that bad tasting. It has a nice cleansing flavor and it apparently really good for you. In spite of that, getting to the actual fruit of this thing is like trying to dissect a fluke worm. If there’s a place to slice into it initially that allows for easier access to the little juice pockets, I haven’t found it. Which partially explains charging seven dollars for a bottle of it at the grocery store. Cut it open and it looks like the tumor in that guy’s head in Fantastic Voyage.

I am quite sure that you actually lose calories eating a pomegranate. The effort involved in surgically extracting the bounty surely burns more calories than are in one seed. I’ve tried adding these juice pods to my smoothies without regard for the little wooden seed and ended up with a great tasting smoothie filled with sawdust. Fibrous? Yes but the health benefits were greatly outweighed by the time spent on the toilet picking splinters out of my tongue.

Pomegranates are colloquially, and when I say colloquially, I mean, some red-necked gritter racist made it up, known as Chinese apples. Have you ever noticed that anything labeled as “Chinese” is fucking hard? Chinese Checkers? Marbles coming from everywhere. Chinese Finger Lock? I have a hard time believing that the industrious Chinese people slid wicker tubes over the fingers of those they were looking to subdue but they are pretty difficult to wrestle out of. As for the Chinese Apple, it’s like the Rubik’s Cube of produce so I think aptly named, if you’re a bigot.

Pez

I don’t want to spend the entire time picking on, pun intended, raw fruits and vegetables when there is other more deserving artificially made fodder out there. Let me just state for the record that I love Pez. The delicious candy, Pez, is not the problem here. The issue is the frustrating process of loading these ridiculous shaped bonbons into the slots of the various character dispensers. Why do I feel like if I don’t load these things into the machine that I am somehow cheating myself? They just don’t taste the same.

Who is the Pez outfit anyway? I’ve never seen any other products from them and I kind of have the feeling that while they do make enchanting and colorful candy squares that they also dabble a little in defense contracting. Like they make missiles and cluster bombs and stuff like that on the side. Of course their missiles are shaped like Goofy and Santa Claus just like their dispensers and their grenades they manufacture explode off into little rectangular pieces of pastel colored shards of death. Like you almost feel good being killed by something like this.

Surely, in the end, there are many more products to add to this list but these are the best of the best, at least as far as I’m concerned. By the way, if anyone wants my hummus recipe, let me know. I don’t part with it easy. Kind of like you wouldn’t let a child molester babysit your children. Not that you’re a child molester. Not sure where I’m going with this exactly so I’ll just stop here.

Random Thoughts on Dieting Once Again

Dieting Again

I have previously mentioned my struggles with diets how I have tried every one of them known to man, The Atkins Diet, The Cabbage Soup Diet, The Paleo Diet and even flirted with Veganism for six months or so. I know diets. You need info, you come to me. I never stick with them long enough to know if they actually work but I can tell you the intimate details of every last one of them. I even had the thought of creating my own dieting system called The Self-Loathing Diet. The whole thing is based on a severe sense of self-hatred resulting in weight loss gained from denying yourself life’s pleasures.

I made the mistake of sharing the idea of The Self-Loathing Diet to my friend Wenus. Not sure if that’s how you spell Wenus, we never checked, but it’s the nickname we gave him, not his real name. Wenus has large elbow skin. It’s gross to tell you the truth and he is aware of it’s indecency as well. Playing golf with him is an atrocity as, first, you kind of have to wear a short sleeved shirt to play golf properly and, second, his elbow flesh flaps in a good wind. In a typical round I spend four hours gagging. It’s really inhuman. His hatred for his rather generous allotment of elbow dermis may explain why he was so drawn to my idea of dieting based on hating yourself. My mistake came when I underestimated the amount of pleasure Wenus would derive from dieting on denial. He texted me one early afternoon to tell me that he actually developed an erection while loading up at the salad bar at work instead of going for the usual burger and fries. With each scoop of broccoli, Wenus was becoming more and more aroused. He had become a contorted mix of a vegan and some guy who likes women to walk in high heels on his balls. He’s thinner now but is in dire need of aggressive therapy. True story.

I am susceptible to influence from documentaries too. I know this and actually avoid watching them as I know, going in, that it will be a life changing event for me. I was bored a few weeks back and decided that I should watch the documentary, Fed Up. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about how the sugar industry is slowly killing all of us with their poison. Apparently, corn syrup is the new anthrax. Terrorists will be sending packages of this stuff to their local congressman as their next acts of war. “You will release my brothers from Guantanamo or I swear to Allah that I will make you cupcakes from high fructose corn syrup and in five to ten years when you develop diabetes you will remember these words.” Probably not the most politically correct fictional quote but I simply couldn’t resist. Anywho, within the first five minutes of watching, I knew my next dieting adventure was about to begin.

I’m not really motivated to lose weight anymore just so I can look good, I’m past that sort of vanity. I don’t want sculpted abs. I have abs, I think, somewhere in the abdominal region. I’m just not inclined to put in the work it would require to procure them or bring them to the surface. Besides, 95% of the women that I would be interested in, if I wasn’t married, that is, would find me repulsive because I am old, I will be fifty in a few weeks, and because I don’t like to go out for anything but movies and dinner. Younger women like to do things, things I hate. What in the world would we talk about? I would ask questions like, “Who is this Selena Gomez character anyway?” or “Why do I need Instagram when I already have Facebook?” She would ask me things like, “So there was really a time before cable?” or “Can we, just once, go out to dinner after 7:30?”

When I was young, if we wanted to attract females, we unbuttoned our shirts, flashed some chest hair and slathered ourselves in a half a bottle of Drakkar. No one cared if you cooked and cleaned, in fact, it was perceived as a character flaw if you did. We were men and if we were looking for female companionship, we went out and actually talked our way into it. We didn’t need toys like Tinder, we were Tinder.

I was never a big club guy but I cannot imagine the horror of dating a younger women and having to go clubbing today. I hate loud noises and clubs permeate with loud, awful music. There isn’t anything to do there but drink and dance. I don’t drink and dancing is dumb. One of my favorite lines from Seinfeld is:

Jerry – I can’t believe that we’re going dancing!

Jerry’s girlfriend (I don’t remember her name and do not care to look it up) – Why because it’s so much fun?

Jerry – No, because it’s so stupid.

No, I am not vain but I am as cheap as the day is long and I aspire to be even more frugal someday. I plopped down, and when I say plopped I mean collapsed, on a picnic blanket at a recent outdoor Steely Dan concert and the side of my pants ripped, I assume because I am apparently becoming larger, sort of like if you dropped an overly laden water balloon on the driveway. My first thought was not that I was fat but rather, “dammit, now I have to buy new pants!”

I have always been a floater weight-wise, bouncing in between 205 and 220 for the last ten years and that basically coincides with the fitment of my pants. Once I get to the limits of dungaree comfortability, most of the time on the high side, in fact, I can’t think of having to ever gain weight to fit my clothes, I know that it’s time to start watching what I eat. It really is the only reason I opt to be slimmer. I don’t have to look at myself, other people do and that’s their problem. If I happen to catch a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror, I immediately turn away and start thinking about baseball statistics until the shame passes. The same kind of technique one would use to prolong their sexual stamina. By the way, just in case you care, that never works.

I get the feeling that it’s time to lose weight again when my belt starts to cut into my spinal cord. My tighter belts are shaped like question marks because they are contorted by the vast amount of pressure my burgeoning abdomen puts on them. They fit right against the flat of my back but the leather has to make some dramatic and dangerous turns in order to navigate my lumpy front. It’s not a pretty job being my belt. Only the best need apply.

Speaking of being fifty, I’m really not having any emotional or mental issues when it comes to hitting the “Big 5-0”. I don’t long for a sports car, a hair weave and a twenty year old hanging on my arm. I think I’m safe from the mid-life crisis. Plus, I look at the pictures of myself when I was in high school and, to be frank, I was a giant dork. I was always a snappy dresser. I am now and would have been then, a member of the Sock of the Month Club and if that doesn’t scream snazzy, I don’t know what does, but my hair and glasses were socially debilitating, and I barely spoke to anyone. Ugh. I must say that, I think, I look better now than ever. I’ve kept most of my hair and it has a nice touch of gray to it brought on by big gains in wisdom. I wouldn’t trade wisdom for youth for anything in the world.

So this Fed Up thing has me living without sugar now. According to FU, I will appropriately call it FU from now on, sugar is not just in your donuts, cakes, pies and everything else considered delicious, no, apparently, a slice of white bread has more sugar, once broken down in your body, than a Snickers candy bar. Oh, and sugar, raises your insulin levels exponentially resulting in diabetes, obesity and all other kinds of debilitating maladies. When I heard the word, obesity, I thought, could this possibly be my next foray into dieting? I told you, when I watch a documentary, I watch that effing thing, man.

I made lists. I love making lists. I jotted down every food that is permissible on a low glycemic diet. Your meats, cheeses, veggies and fruits basically. Given that I can tolerate about three vegetables, that list is a short one. I made the grocery list and went in full bore.

One week update –

So I’ve been riding the no sugar wave now for a total of one week and I have been watching the progress on the scale every morning, does anyone else weigh themselves while on a diet hoping to have not lost weight so you can say that the whole thing is total bullshit and go back to eating the food you love? I do. Every morning.

I was half disappointed to find that I had lost eleven pounds. I mean, I’ll take the eleven pound loss but would have been just as happy to see that FU had lied to me and I could stop at Dunkin donuts on my way to work.

Now I’m stuck on this thing until the weight loss comes to a grinding halt, until I watch another documentary or if someone were to offer me a thick slab of apple crumb pie.