Mr. Italo and our intrepid New York correspondent, Mr. Dario, have been waging a years-old, and occasionally nasty, war regarding the superiority of Montreal bagels vs. the crap variants that come out of New York City. For me, the issue was settled one fine day when the owner of St. Viateur Bagel (the shrine of Montreal bageldom) wandered into our favorite Mile-End cafe. Mr. Italo, eager to score a couple on Mr. Dario (visiting Montreal at the time) asked the Holy Man which bagels were superior. “The ones you grew up with” he said in near Ekhart Tolle spiritual perfection.
Which leads me to the current subject: Can junk-food comfort us?
My wife and I have been cleaning up our dietary act for at least the last 15 years. It’s a process. As I’ve written before, after reading Michael Pollan’s new book, Food Rules, I was very encouraged to find that we have achieved a very high score (94%) in that regard. Ninety percent of our meat and fowl is organic and free-range. The vast majority of our fish is either organic, wild, or of Western hemisphere provenance. We eat virtually zero Asian cesspool sourced fish and seafood. About half our produce is local, although we still struggle with fruit, especially in the Canadian Winter. And we cook! Out of 90 meals in a month, 85 are at home. Few things ever come from a package and our recycling and garbage output has dwindled to once every two weeks where we need to put out the bin or bag.
That being said, I invariably find a box of old-style Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Post Shreddies, some Velveeta, or an occasional six-pack of Nutty Buddy ice-cream cones in my shopping cart. Nothing high-end, just some of the basic crap that I would occasionally convince [read nag] my poor widowed mother to buy when I was a kid (this stuff was anathema to her – she was Michael Pollan way before he was even a glint in his father’s eye!). Frankly, the stuff doesn’t even taste that great, but it has the power to take me back to a safer, kinder time, when someone else had to worry about paying the bills and I could just focus on having fun.
Even Pollan makes a case for the occasional digression from the pursuit of perfection. In fact, perfection is pretty annoying and fundamentally distasteful to the Psyche because it knows that ultimately it’s an illusion that can never be achieved. And “perfect” people are almost invariably self-absorbed, boring, social pariahs with whom you can never have any fun.