When my aunt* and cousin from Richmond, VA visited recently, I had an experience that felt straight out of a Michael Moore documentary (where America seems like crazy-land)--trying to explain the Atkins diet to my dairy-farmer uncle:
“You mean they don’t eat BREAD. Bread bread??” My uncle jumped up and grabbed a hunk off the table, sure that there was a miscommunication and I really meant to say chocolate desserts or wild boar.
“Yes, well, it’s pretty much the flour that’s the problem, not the eggs or milk or whatever.” I concentrated on avoiding eye contact with all parties.
He looked stunned as a Christian kid who’d been told some boys and girls don’t celebrate Christmas. To him, bread was nonnegotiable. Its sponge-like capacity ensured his wife’s delicious sauces never went to waste and its firm crust carried the cheese to his mouth with a satisfying crunch. It was, versatile and reliable. The BASE of every meal.
Talking to my friend Kathleen the next week, who likewise finds the trend insane, I realized how out of control the whole Atkins thing was getting in the US. She told me they were now making Atkins DAIRY PRODUCTS.
“I’m sorry,” I said, “but since when is MILK laden with carbs?”
But she had an even more outrageous example. “Okay,” she paused for effect, “Coke has made a low-carb version.”
Now, I knew Americans could be stupid about food, but the idea that anyone could consume 200 calories but bother to make sure it was “low carb” seemed too much. I needed clarification: “You mean the REGULAR stuff?”
Not missing a beat, Kathleen says “like, ever heard of DIET?!?”
*My Aunt is very smart and her husband is a doctor and she’s not one of those crazy people eating low-carb candy. You know, just for the record.