My, how precious!

Today’s New York Times business page had a piece about artisanal chocolate. Now I love chocolate as much as the next gal, if not more, but does everything need to be so, well, precious?

This is part of a bigger trend. First, there was wine. It wasn’t enough to know that red went with meat and white went with fish. No, no, no. You had to know about vintages. Regions. Soil. How much sun France saw that year. Sure, there are good wines and bad wines (and really, really good wines and really, really bad wines). But, it starts to feel a little like a fetish after a while, no?

But, okay, I mean wine has been made and drunk this way for centuries.

Then came coffee. Tea. Olive oil. Vinegar. Mustard.

And now, chocolate. Do we need this stress? Isn’t this why we eat chocolate — for a bit of simple, sweet succor? What is simple about this: "Pop the first half into your mouth, and chew it to check the taste and texture. Then pay attention to the aftertaste. Next, try the other half and see if the flavor changes." I want dessert, not the palate equivalent of an IQ test.

I’d prefer my food minus the side of precious, thanks.

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Bigger Tic Tacs, Smaller Big Macs

A few days ago I wrote about the new, 1.9 calorie Tic Tacs and the indication that the super size trend was without end.

Well, perhaps not. In fact, McDonald’s — the inventers of the term, if not the trend — announced Wednesday that it is doing away with gargantuan portions.

Does this signal a reversal of the trend toward mega-portions and instead toward a more rational approach to food?

I think it’s much too early to know. It’s worth remembering that Americans live in a toxic food environment, no less so, ultimately, because a a fast food chain serves us a handful fewer fries. But, the optimist in me has to see this as a hopeful sign that the trend is, if not quite reversing, at least changing.

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Why Americans Are Fat

I was recently in a supermarket in Florida and I noticed the Tic Tac display.  Tic Tacs, I learned, are now 30% larger, for "More Enjoyable Freshness."  (No, I don’t know what that means either.)

Like most Gen Xers, I grew up with Cherly Tiegs extolling the virtues of the "1 1/2 calorie breath mint."  So, of course, the first thing I did was flip the box over to scrutinize the nutrition information.  These new, bigger mints now have 1.9 calories.  Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, eh?

Ok, sure, no one is getting fat from an extra .4 calorie per Tic Tac.  (Has anyone ever eaten fewer than a handful anyway?)  But it’s part of an overall super-sizing trend that simply isn’t good for us.  I keep thinking the pendulum is going to swing in the opposite direction — micro-portions or something.  Instead, every few months I see a new, and frankly more absurd, example of the "if some is good, lots is great" ethos.  But bigger Tic Tacs might just take the cake (which we undoubtedly will have and eat.)

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