March 19, 2008

In The News: Here A Tasting, There A Tasting

Foodies and dietitians don't generally see eye to eye.

Foodies crave rich ingredients, orgasmic flavors, and lovely textures (even if they are achieved by triple deep frying).

Dietitians love food -- a good dietitian makes healthy eating flavorful, delicious, and not taste like cardboard -- but also seek out a certain nutrition balance (a sauce on the side, opting for broccoli instead of white rice to accompany a dish, etc.)

On that note, today's New York Times examines the impact of the foodie lifestyle -- particularly restaurant reviewers -- on health.

Take the case of founder Jason Perlow, who after years of sampling delicacies left and right without giving much thought to anything except how good they tasted, tipped the scales at 400 pounds and developed Type 2 diabetes.

Sure, an extreme situation, but it's still , pardon the pun, food for thought. And, he isn't necessary alone:

"“Most of us who are in this profession are here as an excuse to eat,” said Mimi Sheraton, the food writer and former New York Times restaurant critic who has chronicled her own battle with weight loss. Still, she said, “I’ve never seen such an outward, in-your-face celebration of eating fat.

This is very much a "chicken or the egg" situation.

Chefs -- especially five-star celebrity ones -- continue to make fatty dishes without taken nutrition into consideration because, truth be told, they don't need to.

A restaurant reviewer could care less that an entree packs in 1,600 calories and two days' worth of saturated fat, or that the scrumptious new hot dessert in town has as much sugar as three cans of soda.

As far as a chef is concerned, if food coming out of the kitchen is well-reviewed, the job is well done.

This is why I personally don't find classical French cuisine that amazing. How hard can it be to make a delicious meal when butter, flour, and sugar are poured on liberally?
The new standard of top-notch cuisine should take nutrition into account.

This paradigm of "delicious vs. healthy" is antiquated, inaccurate, and due for a change!
Let's have dietitians infiltrate the restaurant scene.

Not to count calories or ask for a tomato-based sauce in place of a cream one, but to challenge talented chefs and say, "alright, that curry pad thai was to die for, but let's see you concoct something just as delicious that's higher in fiber, lower in fat, and has more vegetables."

The celebrity chefs sure seem to have the ego. So... come on and wow me.


Vincci said...

I think I would have to disagree with your idea that foodies and dietitians don't see eye-to-eye. I think there are a lot of foodies out there who find pleasure in what are coincidentally healthier foods, like foods that are less processed or "novelty" ingredients, like different kinds of whole grains and heirloom vegetables.

Corey said...

I love your "butter, flour and sugar" comment. My sentiments as a cook agree. It's a skill to make a great-tasting dish with only healthful ingredients. Take vegetables, olive oil, and vinegar and see what you can do(a little bit of olive oil, not a quart) How hard is it to pile on fat and sugar to get something to taste good? Where's the challenge?