Because a bare cupboard and an empty fridge are sad sights to behold, the Urban Forager hunts through food & wine shops bringing home tasty morsels that make your kitchen table the best place to eat in town.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fat, Salt and Sugar

A month or two ago former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, David Kessler, was making the rounds of radio shows talking about his new book, "The End of Overeating." His theory, backed by scientific research, is that foods high in fat, salt and sugar turn on a little switch in our brain that says "Eat! Eat more! Keep eating!" This neurological response is what keeps our hand going back into that bag of Cheetos long after we've had our fill.

Of course none of us want to admit that we are weak enough to be trapped in this way. What ever happened to self control? But after a recent visit to Chicago I am here to tell you that David Kessler is right. The magic combination of fat, salt and sugar is truly, unquestionably evil. And also very delicious.

The long line at Garrett's Popcorn Shop is proof of what suckers we all are. What they serve at Garrett's doesn't even taste like popcorn. It doesn't taste like real food at all. Real food doesn't leave a neon yellow stain on you fingers that is difficult to wash off, even with soap. To experience the ultimate fat, salt and sugar triumvirate that David Kessler warns us about, you have to order the Chicago Mix, a blend of caramel and cheese popcorn. I know, I was skeptical too. I was even slightly grossed out by what I was eating the whole time I was eating it, but I couldn't stop. Garrett's Chicago Mix is the ultimate junk food. If you don't believe me, (or if you don't believe David Kessler) next time you're in Chicago get yourself a bag of Chicago Mix and see for yourself how one bite abolishes all self control.

The combination of the sweet caramel corn and salty cheese corn was so tasty I considered re-creating it at home. I imagined making a slightly healthier, more gourmet version of what Garrett's has going on. And then I came to my senses. Trying to make gourmet Chicago Mix is like trying to make gourmet Cheetos. Eating junk food every once in awhile is one of the great things about being human. And, one of the great things about visiting Chicago.

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