8/10/2007

When I am King: Menu for Success

When I am King...

We will stop waffling and create more perfect foods.

Some meals are engineered to be as unhealthy as possible. There should be more of these wonderful meals available.

Take, for example, the waffle. A long time ago, say 517 years, someone invented pancakes. Later that same morning, they invented syrup to top the pancakes. During the same meal, on a frenzied sugar high, they added whipped butter to top it all off.

This has worked well for centuries: warm pancakes melt the butter and soak it and the syrup up so that most of these liquid grease products bypass our stomachs and go directly to the lining of our arteries.

But food scientists discovered, say 63 years ago, that some of the butter and syrup liquid were left on the plate, due to the simple physical reality of run-off. Pancakes are excellent at soaking up grease, but they can't get it all. So the liquid that runs off tends to stay on the plate and is removed only by the most strenuous licking.

This situation was obviously not sustainable. Besides the obvious waste in butter and syrup, there was just an inherent lack of efficiency of the pancake product. Clearly, something had to be done.

Some early attempts at fixing this included the Plate Straw, a device that simplified sucking up syrup or meat juices left on plates; Sippin' Syrup, a breakfast drink of pure syrup and non-dairy butter alternative; and syrup-flavored pancakes. But none of these fine products fully solved the problem or satisfied the public's appetite for complete sugar and grease overload.

Finally, scientists invented waffles. This new version of the breakfast cake had all of the grease-soaking capabilities of pancakes with the important additional property of being able to hold pools of liquid to allow longer time for both soaking and transportation to the mouth. Now it no longer matters whether the syrup can all be soaked up; eating a waffle is like eating many little doses of syrup in tiny pancake cups.

Another meal engineered to get more of the bad stuff into our system is meatloaf. Have you ever noticed how much fat leaves a hamburger as it cooks on a grill? Now, imagine cooking the hamburger in a pot, where all of that grease would be trapped and the meat would be swimming in a large pool of fat. Ick. Completely unappetizing. Ah, but wouldn't it taste good anyway, if we could just get past the gut-wrenching notion of that pond of fat?

Along came some clever food scientists who researched the problem extensively. They noticed that if you stick some substance in with the meat to soak up the fat, then it is no longer obvious to the eater that they are eating a bowl of fat soup. Instead, it just tastes good.

There were several attempts at a solution. The first attempt involved cut-up kitchen rags, which tend to be good soaking-up agents. The meal looked passable, but the tasters objected to the “inedible”, and “leathery” portions of rag in the meat.

The second attempt was more clever, and used the knowledge of the earlier team's work on waffles to make the meal more edible; they used crumbled up pancakes. Tasters agreed that the meal was edible, but it didn't taste quite right, and tasters kept wanting syrup on the meat.

Finally, the researchers happened upon stale pieces of bread, first as a joke, and then later because the tasters seemed to actually enjoy it and the bread was free from the dumpster behind the bakery next door. The dry bread effectively soaks up all of the grease that the meat would otherwise rid itself of in a desperate attempt to become more healthy. Now you get the benefit of eating bread that was too far gone to be eaten otherwise, and grease that would otherwise have looked too unappetizing for you to enjoy. One swing through the marketing department, which at the time was Lenny, the six year old son of the inventor, and “meatloaf” was born.

When I am King, I will devote all available resources to inventing more perfect foods like these. Too much is going to waste in grease pools on our plates, in our pots, on our oven floors, and under our barbequeue grills. There must be other clever ways, building upon the hallmark work of waffles and meatloaf, to ensure that these leftovers go into our bodies instead. I'd die to eat more of this grease, wouldn't you?
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