Saturday, December 3, 2011

Nashville, This Is One Reason Why You're Fat - And It's Not McDonald's Fault

I was craving Italian tonight and considered phoning Carrabbas for takeout, but the drive (each way) would have put that immediate gratification off twenty minutes longer than a stop at a locally-owned place I'd always been meaning to ... but looked a nudge pricey for fare I've never heard anyone in Nashville rave about.  I ordered up two appetizers, thinking that would be the light option. Turned out to be a joke. After eating 1/4 to 1/3 of the calimari I ordered, this was what was left:

The McCormick's spice bottle is in the picture to help give you an idea of scale for this $9 or $10 (I forget exactly which) serving. In addition, the other appetizer was about the same price, a plate of cheese fritters. Again, huge serving. A supposedly fine-dining restaurant isn't supposed to give you that much food that's so totally bad for you. Two to three times the size of what an appetizer would have carried before the rise of chain restaurants and economies of scale made it look like diners were getting fantastic deals on huge amounts of food. Even with Italian, I would never have expected a single appetizer to feed three or more in a "fine" restaurant that doesn't bill itself as Family Style, where you order one item to feed a whole table.

For freshness and taste the food itself was good; better than the average Nashville Italian, and on par with typical upstate NY fare I grew up with. But, again, trying to match chain restaurants' economies of scale with local finer-dining prices is a loser. Conscientious eaters don't want to take home fried-food leftovers; no one wants to reheat an appetizer. When we see portions this size, on food we know we're not going to reheat, our psyches tell us to finish it all NOW.

30.8%. That's the Tennessee obesity rate, according to the CDC. And it's an appropriate fraction for the size the above appetizer would have been, back when my Mom was taking us out to dinner as kids. Perhaps it's also a coincidence the obesity rate was one third then, of what it is now.