Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A World Gone Mad

According to a piece in the NYT today, the Indiana State Fair has banned the use of all oils that contain trans fats. So now everyone here can eat guilt-free fried oreos, twinkies, Snickers bars, and Pepsi. Yes, fried Pepsi. As if Indiana fried food was not disgusting enough.

This is why I loved this article:

“This is a slice of heaven,” said Ryan Howell, 31, as he cradled his Combo Plate, which, for the record, consists of one battered Snickers bar, two battered Oreos and a battered Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup — all deep-fried in oil that is trans-fat free, thank goodness.

I used to say that one of the main (though there are many) differences between Indiana and California is the fact that people in Indiana fry everything, and love every second of it, while Californians turn up their nose at fried food and opt instead for trendy plates of low-calorie, high-sodium sushi. And it's true in some sense -- the evidence of this is the fact that in Indiana, at 5'6" and 115 lbs I'm considered runway model thin, but in California I'm an easy candidate for the Jenny Craig weight-loss program.

But I've changed my stance, ever so slightly.

In California we do have our fair share of people who like everything fried. But the difference is that they do not do it out in the open. They know that it is shameful, and so they enjoy their grease-laden fare in secret, in the privacy of their own homes. It's like porn -- most people won't admit to watching it, yet many are secretly addicted to it. But in Indiana, there is no shame in frying anything and everything. It's a world in which deep-fryers occupy daily counterspace with the coffee-maker and toaster. A world gone mad.

I am certainly not making this out to be more sinister than it is. Even the Times hints at its dark underside:

But inside the booth, where the air is dense with oil, workers chuckle about the whole concept. And Mr. Orme himself rarely eats what he cooks here.

“I stay away from fried foods,” he said.


DSW said...

Fried food is delicious, but I consciously eat less of it than I used to. Oh, and if you think Indianans eat a lot of fried food, come to Texas sometime - there's a reason Houston, Dallas, El Paso, and San Antonio are generally 4 of the 10 fattest cities in the U.S. 3 words: Chicken Fried Steak.

Adam Shprintzen said...

Fried...Pepsi? Wha?

Driving to Indianapolis this spring, I couldn't help but wonder what they thought of me at a truck stop as I went in clad in my kippah, jeans and Chuck Taylors. I'm convinced that the rumor spread through the town that a terrorist was spotted buying a Snapple and some chips.

Monica said...

You know, DSW, when I was in Ithaca this summer, I ate at a restaurant that served "Chicken Fried Chicken." I was very confused. I, too, like my fair share of fried food, but, seriously -- why do Indianans have to fry EVERYTHING?

Adam -- exactly, fried pepsi...wha? And, I love the image of you in your kippah and Chuck Taylors at a truck stop in the middle of Nowhere, Indiana. Like I've said before, Jews are eerily scarce around these parts, so it is more than possible that you evoked some form of fear in the townspeople! Case in point: I had a student a year ago who said to me, in class, "Before I met you, I had never met any Jews." The funniest thing is that he was just making an assumption about my Jewish identity based on the fact that I was teaching Holocaust literature. Funny stuff around here . . .

Adam Shprintzen said...

That's interesting, I never thought of that (re: the student). Do all students assume that professors of Islamic History are Muslims? Probably not. Yet I would bet that most students assume that professors of Jewish lit., history, etc...are actually Jewish. I wonder what that ultimately says?