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Guest column | Jim Aylward

A taste for the olden days, before we all got fat

When I was a kid, my father taught me how to cook bacon and eggs early in the morning. He had an old iron skillet and an old black oil stove in the little wood-paneled kitchen. He would sizzle the bacon until the grease popped high, and then he would drop the eggs into that mix, and spoon the fat over each egg lovingly until it was speckled brown. With an old iron grid on the side of the stove, he would make toast until it was crisp, crunchy and marked with black, then slather it with real butter.

In those days, the word "cholesterol" hadn't been invented. The only word we knew was "delicious," and it was.

Today, of course, breakfast is out of a package or a box, or from a fast-food franchise, or sometimes, not at all. While we know all about good nutrition now, most of us still eat what we like and lots of it.

Even the ruling that calorie content for food must be available at restaurants doesn't stop us from eating the lunch we want. Jam that "Double Whammy" down, and we'll have popcorn for supper. That should do it. Then maybe some pancakes and syrup. And chocolate cake before bed. And a heartburn remedy in the middle of the night.

There was a time when I could eat anything I wanted and never put on a pound. When I was in my teens, I was 6 feet 4 and weighed 127 pounds. Really! I was nothing but ribs and protruding teeth. I had the teeth fixed and time resolved the weight problem.

As I got older, I turned into a tall, skinny guy with a ring around the middle. Exercise helped. Then I became a tall, muscular guy with a ring around the middle. Once you've got it, it's hard to get rid of it.

Today, there are restaurants that seem to specialize in high-calorie, fat-laden foods. The smoked turkey leg at the Magic Kingdom has nearly a day's worth of fat and 1,093 calories.

A concession stand at the Canadian National Exhibit is now selling something called "deep-fried butter." Well, that might be good with a little mayo on it.

In the good old days, most of us didn't get heavy until retirement. People walked to jobs or to the mass transit that delivered them there. The U.S. Postal Service workers and meter readers completed their routes on foot and the milkman ran from his truck at the curb to the back door of each customer.

It seemed no different for women. The old wringer-washer kept Mom weary and slim. Today, with conveniences all over, men and women can pack on the pounds if they want.

Late in life my mother put on weight, and the doctor told her it wasn't good with her osteoporosis. She was sent to a rehab center, where her evening meal was two slices of white bread with one slice of meat in between and no dressing. When she finished there she was back to her original dress size and looked wonderful. She immediately went home and ate cookies.

Oh, let's hear it for the days of "delicious," when we didn't know a thing about "cholesterol."

Jim Aylward lives in New Port Richey.

A taste for the olden days, before we all got fat 11/16/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 5:16pm]
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