Can’t live with them, can’t live without them


[ Note from Noel : At least every once in a while, I try to write to you dear friend with (1) no PC (political correctness) filter, (2) the least bit of hesitation about sounding silly or weird (as if I haven’t done that already), and (3) as little editing or doubling back on what I just typed / said.  Save for misspellings and grammatical corrections, which I’m afraid are many, WYSIWYG 🙂  Indulge me please, and reap the whirlwind !  Warning : the dietary opinons expresssed here are those of YLB alone, and not necessarily those of a sane eater 😉 ]

Dear kabayan, schoolmate, officemate, brod, Huttmate and friend :

NAUGHTY POINTS for you if you thought the title above referred to women, I’m sure that the fairer sex in general thinks exactly the same of us hairy cavemen.  I’m referring to red meat, particularly processed meat, and yet another comprehensive study linking it to early deaths in a study of large groups of men and women over an extended period of time.  Now the study is so damning it is an all-purpose scaremonger, engraving skull-and-crossbones over pork, beef, lamb and hoofed animals in general, for the hunters among you.  And as little as 80 grams daily, the dimensions of an ordinary deck of playing cards is enough to consign you to an early death.

( just in case you haven’t realized it yet, stats or research isn’t my strong suit, sorry for that.  Whenever possible, I do try to provide links to the scholarly work/s (tongue-in-cheek) that prick my interest, but beyond that caveat reader 😉  )

There are two philosophical problems with this, and I hope my being a non-scientist, non-philosopher, and non-mature person doesn’t deter you from at least considering my proposition. FIRST, since the dawn of time, we’ve been munching on mammoth kebab and brontosaurusburgers, so as far as I can see, homo sapiens sapiens is still alive and breathing, very much around, so what’s so bad with including oink-oink, moo-moo and baa-baa in your breakfast, lunch and dinner (don’t forget the sinangag)?  SECOND, if we avoid Cow and Chicken, Porky Pig and Sheep in The Big City, what are our substitutes for protein, Vitamin B & Co, and omega fatty acids?

Methinks what gives red meat a bad name is our obsession with processed (cured, dried, tanned, salted, bahala na po kayo) meat, the elevation of obesity into an art form, which prevents us even more from getting rid of the by-products of red meat in our bodies, and trite as it may sound, conveniently forgetting the simple common sense of balancing meat intake with fruits, veggies and carbos.  Remember, there’s no political, religious or even ideological dogma associated with pro- or anti-flesh eating, in YLB’s view.  It’s just plain smart eating, which has served our forebears hunting, farming, fishing or raising livestock.

I can’t think of any beloved Pinoy dish without even a little pork for sauteeing (panggisa), admittedly it’s what gives the dish the flavor, forgive my limited culinary IQ.  Chicken-pork adobo without the pork is like the martial arts flick without Jacky Chan or Jet Li.  Sinigang na baka without baka (beef) is futile. Salu-salo without Krispy Pata? Bearable, but a letdown.  Kalderetang kambing less the kambing?  Might as well leave the turo-turo buffet and proceed to McDo.  Wait, that’s Processed Meatsville right?  Like the frying pan into the fire (with the animal fat-based oil included).  Well, if you’re supposedly killing yourself, you might as well enjoy, is what the Pampanga’s Best sausage machine whispered to me, complete with suka and achara which, re meat and early deaths, is the last mental image lingering in my mind.  Modus omnibus in rebus.

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Almost as emotional but not as momentous an issue is coffee which, in early NZ days when we were brain-numbingly cold, lonely and looking for work, kept us awake, kept us warm, and kept us company.  Looking back, we don’t know how we could’ve survived without coffee which is cheap (unless you’re got a Starbucks or Gloria Jeans fetish), easy to prepare and works almost instantly.

Coffee has been fingered as the panacea for so many ailments or culprit for hypertension, diabetes, lots of other lifestyle diseases so the latest study surprises me as much as watching the end of the most recent CSI episode.  Yes, your primary suspect really did it !  This month, coffee is the good guy, lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  But next month, it will be responsible for lower sperm count and zits on your nose.  So it kinda cancels each other out, don’t it?

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Same with Coke.  Surprise, surprise to know that soda and diabetes may NOT be linked after all.  The dizzying revolving door through which pro- and anti-soda literature passes has occupied much of popular consciousness, and you and I are certainly no exceptions as both audience and participants.

If you’re like me ( no two ways about it ), you grew up with Coke or Pepsi.  If you enjoyed any sort of physical activity in your teens and young adulthood, after a great game or workout, you grabbed the nearest ice-cold cola to quench your thirst, and pretty soon it became second nature, which is when you think about it, worse than addiction.  Later on in life, meals became unthinkable without the Litro or 1L bottle of Coke, which later became the 1.5, and still later the 2.25L.  Complicating the issue of lifestyle cola drinking is the insertion of diet soda into the market.  It has created an entire subcategory of health issues.  Does it or doesn’t mitigate weight gain, which normal cola inevitably promotes?  Are there any side effects of diet cola ingredients and are they worth it, assuming you lose the unwanted poundage ?  And so on and so forth.  Like coffee, colas are good (or at least, not bad) for you this month, and catastrophic the next.  Neutral for your health today, and DNA-altering for your potential spawn next week.

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It’s really, really hard to adopt a decisive position for or against.  Well, not that hard really. Without exaggerating too much, I really really need my coffee fix/fixes daily, I like my fizzy Kokak Cola after an intense, humid jog (anything longer than ten minutes is intense for me).  And like gazillions of modern workaday warriors, I think live animals should be magnificent and belong in a zoo, while dead animals should be tasty and belong in my mouth.  Preferably.

Studies and analyses belong in the realm of eggheads, public health officials and corporate communication gunslingers defending whatever product they’re peddling.  You can expect the poison of today to be the harmless kitchen ingredient of tomorrow.  Meanwhile, allow me to enjoy my tocino, greasy eggs and fried rice, black black coffee on the side and full glass of Classic cola as chaser, all the above squishing around my tongue and slithering down my throat.

What a great way to start a day !

Thanks for reading !

Noel

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