Intro to “How to Eat Like an Asshole” (book available on kindle and in paperback)

 

I work at a juice bar. Juice bars are unlike conventional restaurants because their purpose isn’t solely to entertain the customer, but also to guide them about health and diet matters. I don’t just cook nutritious drinks and meals that taste good to the customer (taste comes first, taste always comes first), I’m expected to nurse sick customers back to health, to prescribe remedies to heal an injury, and to absolve those who’ve committed dietary debauchery. That’s a lot of conflicting roles and needs to balance — I have to be stern and funny, candid and soothing, and my food has to be salubrious yet pleasurable.

My (sometimes clumsy) attempts at balance to make sense of the absurdities of American life is the driving theme throughout the 17 essays in this book. In the eponymous opening chapter, I show how what’s commonly considered as Anglo-American good table manners is actually bullying masquerading as good breeding that makes eating a tortuous rather than pleasurable experience. Chapter 2, Redneck Food is Healthier Than Stupid Middle Class Food, takes aim at stereotypes about Rednecks and redneck cuisine and posits that it’s actually the diet and sensibilities of the American middle-class that’s fucked up. We segue into chapter 3, Stop Buying This Shit, for more detailed examples of stupid, expensive shit people buy in their attempts to live healthier lives.

In chapter 4, Why We Don’t Carry Wheatgrass, the essay in this book I’m most proud of, we move on to supplements of dubious value. This chapter begins with a take-down of Wheatgrass as a tonic and then asks what our attraction to snake-oils reveals about human nature. Chapter 5, How to Eat With Instincts, is about how and why we’ve learned to stop eating with instincts and how we can get them back. In chapter 6, How to Order the Nasty Shit, you learn how to order the Chinese food Chinese people eat. We pivot, in chapter 7, Why We Eat What We Eat, to a history of American cuisine to  understand how and why certain ingredients became nasty to most Americans.

My juice bar is known for “bad service.” We address this reputation in chapter 8, Why People Prefer Bad Service, which turns middle-class American notions of “good service” on its head to reveal an American middle-class culture rife with politeness grandstanding and obsequious bullying. The topsy-turvy questioning of “good manners” continues in chapter 9, Why Being Nice Will Kill You. Here I note the correlation between nice personalities (personality type C) and diets high in sugar and processed food.  Chapter 10 introduces The Alive Juice Bar Diet that’s not quite a diet. See, balancing!

Chapter 11 asks Why People Hate McDonald’s and I guarantee you it’s not what you think, this will surprise the fuck out of you. Chapter 12, Soy, Men, and Titties, tackles rumors that about soy messing with people’s estrogen levels, making men grow titties. Chapter 13 is about How to Get Kids to Eat Their Veggies and to Love Their Parents because most of them are doing neither.

The final four chapters are about why people are fucked in the head. We begin with Do You Have Feelings about Feelings, in chapter 14 to figure out why Americans are some of the most emotionally repressed and broken people in the history of the world. Chapter 15, How the Cult of Self-Esteem Produces Fuck Ups, looks at the consequences of the self-esteem movement and how self-esteem is wrongly confused with self-confidence and the correlation between the two is actually inverted. Chapter 16, What the Story of Echo and Narcissus Tells Us About Self-Love, is a moralistic re-reading of a tragedy.  Chapter 17, Why People Don’t Change, is about why it’s so hard to get people to change their diets and other habits.

Though the essays are intentionally ordered and grouped, they can be read independently of each other. Enjoy and comments are appreciated and can be sent to Foodyap@gmail.com.

More books coming soon, including “How to Cook Like a Racist,” where we offer cooking tips and lessons in the context of American racial politics.

 

 

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