Things I don't want to eat

I found an article in The Wall Street Journal recently that raised my hackles.  On March 30th, 2010 the paper talked about a food fad in Springfield, IL, quoting the owner of a local eatery there as saying, "We've made something very unhealthy even unhealthier."

Apparently the city has an area favorite, the horseshoe sandwich, which is incredible enough in its original form (large plate sized, open-face with bread, meat, lots of fries absolutely doused with melted cheese, versions ranging from pony shoes at 1,300 calories to regular horseshoes at 1,900 calories each). That many calories is the equivalent of gulping down nine jelly doughnuts according to the article. One place in Springfield briefly tried a relatively healthy version, but found it unpopular.

Now the featured restaurant came up with a  extra-grease-added format with the fries and meat inserted into a tortilla, then deep fried and finally given a river of cheese sauce. It's a 2,700 calorie horseshoe sandwich said to be equivalent to five Big Macs.

This local tradition, that is the horseshoe sandwich itself, has been around since 1928, flourished since the 1970s  and in 2009 the Springfield convention center hosted the initial World Horseshoe Cook-off.

All of which wants me to stay away from Springfield and its restaurants. I had cousins there many years ago, but, even as a once-a-year birthday "treat," the horseshoe is not for me.

For years I've been amazed at some of the food monstrosities our American fast-food places serve. I understand they're trying to get with the trend toward healthier eating and maybe they're succeeding, but here's one town where the opposite has happened. One state worker is quoted as saying, before her monthly indulgence, that she eats salad all week.

None of us is perfect in following a diet; I ate more yesterday at my relatives' home for the holiday dinner than I normally would and even ate some things (chocolate-covered apricots) that I'd never purchase for myself. But falling off the diet wagon..briefly (I'm still within my three-pound-over-target-weight limit), is one thing; eating these culinary death traps regularly is quite another. I just talked to my CPA about picking up our tax forms and, in doing so, mentioned the horseshoe. He called it "a heart attack on a plate."

So that's Springfield and its own tradition; the problem I have is what can I find to eat when I eat out elsewhere? I look carefully at menus, choose Subway if I have to eat at a fast-food restaurant on the road and usually stick to my favorite Thai place for meetings and treats. I think that our love affair with restaurant food has been a major health hazard for many of us. It's time for a change.

2 Responses to “Things I don't want to eat”

  1. Peter, I can remember a time, growing up in Illinois farm country, when big open-faced roast beef sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy had a certain appeal. That meal you describe, however, sounds disgusting. Things have obviously gone haywire in Illinois. 🙂

  2. Peter Springberg says:

    Pat, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we could find similar regional "favorites" in many cities elsewhere. I certainly don't mean to pick on Illinois exclusively, but the article on the "horseshoe" was a great example of a trend towards the bigger and less healthy in our food choices. As I said in my blog post, it's time for a change. We Americans are much fatter than we should be and this was a classic reason why.

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