Stranger Than Fiction

I stopped eating sandwiches about 15 years ago, swayed by all the low-carb noise and something else I read somewhere. I like bread, I like to make it, I always enjoyed eating it, but I wasn’t living on it alone, you know? I forgot about it. I still ate it; I just didn’t head toward sandwiches automatically, aside from eating out.

Recently I’ve been eating sandwiches, since someone bought some a loaf of really excellent bread by mistake. A peanut-butter sandwich is wonderful with this bread, if a little dry. As I made one the other day, I actually thought for a second about adding something to make it less sticky. I looked in the fridge, ruling out salsa, mustard, and hot sauce before I gave up and just ate the damn thing.

That is correct. Whatever you’re thinking, that’s right. I wanted to put another condiment on my PB sandwich and couldn’t come up with one.


I think about this stuff all the time. The carb paranoia of the early aughts made bread the bad guy, and for some of us we crossed it off the list and never looked back. I’m nowhere near the guy I was 15 years ago. The occasional reassessment is good, I think.

It’s not just food, but food is a fun place to start. Look at MSG. You hear the letters, you think bad, right? No MSG became a pretty common sight on restaurant signage. I got a gift card to Penzeys Spices for Christmas, so I’ve got a lot to choose from, but MSG has always been a go-to seasoning. MSG is great. Take it from me. And harmless, aside from a relative handful of people who react to it (as with anything).

Diet soda is another. I have a vague memory of cyclamates from the late 1960s and early ‘70s, some studies and eventual ban of the artificial sweetener because a few rats got bladder tumors after being fed the human equivalent of more than 500 cans per day. No one has ever been able to replicate this, either. Most of the countries of the world allow cyclamates in their food, although the U.S. doesn’t and it doesn’t matter anymore. We have far more effective artificial sweeteners now, at least in terms of sweetness.

And even with all the articles and folklore and tsk-tsking talking heads on the TV machine, there’s nothing wrong with artificial sweeteners. Sorry. They can’t find anything, as hard as they’ve tried (and as they’re also beating the drum about all that excess sugar we consume with our huge soft drinks).

I think there’s a little social judging going on here, actually. A friend the other day was talking about his Diet Coke habit and how he figures he’s allowed to have a vice or two.

Hello? Not a vice. I mean, I dunno. Maybe there’ll be some sort of definitive study and we’ll all panic and throw away our Splenda, but it’s been 50 years. I think this is a vice-less thing, and I suspect the reason we might think it is has to do with it feeling like something for nothing, which we all seek but pretend not to. It’s carbonated water flavored with something that makes it taste sweet but doesn’t use sugar and doesn’t have any calories.

Yes, “something” is a chemical. Don’t get me started (anything that contains matter is a chemical).

We don’t know, or care much, so we assume. We pick up talking points and run with them because it’s easy. Diet Coke must be bad. Doesn’t it cause cancer?

It’s personal, sure. I’ve been using artificial sweeteners since the late ‘70s, when I began to think that maybe my Pepsi habit was responsible for some of the flab that was mysteriously beginning to appear. It took me a while to get used to the taste, but eventually I couldn’t drink something with sugar (a chemical!) without tasting the actual granules.


It works that way, apparently. I don’t know why I’m acting as if this were news. Human beings base opinions on faulty or zero evidence, alert the media.

Politics, same. Religion, same. Opposition to legal abortion in the U.S. is primarily coming from the organized conservative Christian church, as they see it as a moral issue, which is understandable. There’s just no scripture to back it up. You can infer it, assume it, interpret it that way; none of my business. It’s just not in the Bible. It wouldn’t be.

But I can’t blame people from thinking it is, given everything, and that’s how it works.

Again, an old story. I’m just surprised when I fall for it, although I guess I shouldn’t be. Bread is fine. Moderation is probably something to think about in all things. Jelly goes well with peanut butter, I hear. God is either not finished with me yet or has given up, it’s unclear.

Chuck SigarsComment