Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pass the Biscuits and Gravy, Please

In today's "Exactly what is it you're saying?" category, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a newish study telling us that Huntington, W. Va., is the fattest city in the country; that fat cities have high rates of heart disease and diabetes and that their residents don't exercise. This comes on the heels of a much criticized study that says "people who are overweight but not obese are at less risk of early death than people of normal weight" and "that being very thin increased the risk of early death, even if the thinness was long-standing and not the result of illness." That last bit comes from the International Herald Tribune in May of 2005 and if it's not a direct contradiction, it's certainly a point of confusion.

Fat or thin? Which is it to be?

Regardless, I can tell you from experience that thin is better than fat. Fat, for me, has meant diabetes, elevated blood pressure, bad knees and generally failing health. Thinner has meant that all those things improved. Thinner also meant better diet, an hour a day of exercise (which I used to get--at a minimum--as a healthy kid) and a kind of consuming attention to the detail of eating right and making room to get the required exercise. Tom Field and I have one company policy at Valley Business FRONT: one hour of exercise a day.

I have discovered through my diet just how unhealthy and almost completely clueless most restaurants are about what health means. The meals are generally fatty, carb-filled, artery-clogging and far, far too voluminous. A few restaurants--I'll cite Olive Garden as a good chain here--get it. You can get whole wheat pasta, for example, at OG and that bottomless pit of a salad that's served is quite good.

I imagine Huntington feels picked on today with all this publicity because, frankly, Huntington's not that much worse--and not that much different--from most Southern cities where laying on the lard is a way of showing love. It's one of the few ways poor people have of gaining and giving a little momentary pleasure and it's very, very sad.

Sausage Gravy Recipe. If you want to live dangerously, here's how to make the sausage gravy: Break up about half a pound of sausage into small bits and fry it until it's done and there's plenty of grease in the bottom of the pan. Remove the sausage and leave the grease, keeping the heat at medium. Sprinkle several tablespoons (one at a time) over the grease and stir them until the flour is absorbed and is browning nicely as a paste. Slowly pour milk into the mix, stirring until you get the consistency you want. Put the sausage back in. The whole process takes a few minutes (seconds once you start pouring the milk). If you want this Southern breakfast staple to be a real killer (literally and figuratively), lay on the salt and pepper. That'll get the blood pressure to spike even as your arteries are clogging. Nice combo.

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