Still rounding the bend on finishing the book, but I wanted to post this brief bit anyway.
I’ve mentioned the late, great Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko before. Back in the day, he was by far and away the most-read journalist in the Windy City. He was also amazingly prolific. For most of his career, he pounded out five columns per week. He commented on everything from Chicago politics to national fashion trends, usually with a biting sense of humor. I envied his way with words.
Anyway, I stumbled across a column he wrote back in 1987, which was when the whole low-fat craze was really taking off. A friend of his had invited him to a pasta party, and the column recounts their conversation. Here’s an excerpt:
I could tell he was serious. “You bought a pasta machine?”
“Sure. It’s the latest thing. Electric. That’s why I’m having the party.” ”
But you’re not Italian,” I said.
“Of course not. If I was Italian, my mother would make pasta for me.”
“You really have a pasta machine?”
“Sure. It’s right next to my Cuisinart.”
“But you don’t even live in Lincoln Park. You’re from the Southwest Side.”
“What has that to do with it?”
Obviously, he was another victim of pasta chic, a craze that has gripped the city and the nation.
When Slats Grobnik was a kid, he always knew when the old man was having a losing streak at the racetrack.
“We ate spaghetti every day,” he said. “Or macaroni. Or some of those other damned noodles.”
If the streak was prolonged – and old man Grobnik had a fondness for horses that ran backward – Slats would start moaning: “The only fresh meat in the house is our dog. And I’m too weak to chase ‘im.”
It was that way all over the neighborhood. You knew when the paycheck was running out: the noodle appeared. There was no cheaper way to feed a family.
Poverty meant starch. Prosperity meant meat. That’s why so many poor people are fat.
But now that has been reversed. Pasta is in. Meat is out. (At least red meat. You are still fashionable if you eat the flesh of a dead fish or chicken.)
I remember chuckling at that column, but also thinking, What the heck is he talking about? Fat makes people fat. The problem isn’t the noodle, it’s the fatty sauce on top. Everybody knows that now.
Yup, and everybody was wrong.
Back to that final rewrite of the book.