The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

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Obesity Begins At 35,000 ft. The USA obesity epidemic in reality. Reflections on USA. Part 1

There is clear recognition that obesity if rife in USA. There is also clear evidence that this has translated into worrying rates of Diabetes a not inconsiderable CVD risk factor. How has this all happened? I like to keep things simple, and mostly they are in life. The USA population eats too much. How does this arise? One easy observation after 3 days in USA, the first time I have visited for many years, is that everyone expects huge amounts of food, and either eats it, takes it away in a box to eat later or leaves it on their plate beaming with delight that ” they have had value for money”. The first place I saw this was in the sky.
At 35,000 ft I can see why USA has an obesity epidemic. Breakfast. American Airlines. The omelette was large enough but hidden inside was a huge amount of high fat cheese. Hiding underneath were about 4 rashers of bacon and the whole lot was swimming around in cubed potatoes. Enough ? No. A huge croissant. Enough now? No. A side order of packet of cheese biscuits and a kit kat and biscuits for cheese and a lump of cheese. There was a look of total horror on the face of the air stewardess when I gave this back. Surely you want to keep it for later? No I do not. One passenger was quite into all this as being asked if she wanted omelette or pancakes replied both….. And I hazard a guess this is not the first time she had eaten like this….
I have also witnessed a curious conversation between two of the air stewards. Discussing what was in the cherry pancakes. And yes they offered cherry pancakes. Quote ‘ what is in those pancakes?’
‘Something like mushrooms?’
‘I thought it was a little like cherries’
I now feel that I have descended into a strange parallel universe. To make matters worse I have spent the last hour thinking he has huge blue earrings. It is only on closer inspection I can see they are earphones which strangely seem to be connected to something and I will not speculate inside the zip of his jeans. I repeat. Parallel universe.
Finally the ending to the food story. Around an hour before we are due to land the next lot of food appears. True to restaurant fashion the meal was both pizza and pasta. Yes both. But if you wanted to pretend you had the healthy option it was pasta salad but oddly without visible salad. And I almost forgot a side order of coconut and orange biscuits.
The second place I saw this was in a Mexican restaurant (maybe one of the worst in the world I have ever visited, but thats a different story), where I ordered a burrito . And that is the operative word ” a”. What arrived was a fairly awful rendition of a burrito and not only that there were two of them. I ate one out of simple hunger, but could not touch the other. The plate was pushed away. My partners plate disappeared but mine stayed. Eventually with a look of disbelief I was asked if I had finished and if I wanted to take this appalling item of food away with me. The third place, was a much better restaurant in Nashville, and just to set the scene more positively you can see what a nice place Nashville is below. But again having ordered a meal that was actually good, chicken and asparagus ( served in a large bun, and one must ask why?. Chicken and cheese and asparagus is a decent meal alone without the need for pounds of bread accompanying it), I was informed in the same way you might be told you had won a prize, that I could have an extra side order. The size of the side order indicated it was either first prize, or was inadvertently given to me but was expected on a table of 8. Nice though it was, coleslaw, it looked like I had not in fact touched it. So cue apologies to Brittany the waitress to explain that it was good but just too much. It would be interesting to do a kitchen audit to see if anyone in a whole day managed to finish their coleslaw and if they did what was their BMI before and after eating this epic side order. So, this story will get continued as the next few days unfold. I plan to have a nice Day and do in fact have a nice Day.

Nashville, Indiana

Nashville, Indiana

Motorway Service Stations

Driving as I do around 20,000 miles/year sadly I am sometimes forced by circumstances to stop at these appalling places. My childhood recollections are of stopping late at night often on the way back from football games at wonderful places such as Barrow ( and I mean that, Barrow is a wonderful proper real football ground, the simple fact that it borders on Mordor and takes weeks to get there should not detract too much from that) and finding cold service stations, long queues and smelling vividly of fried food. Sadly not much has changed except two things. In the main they are all outlets, Burger King, Costa ,Waitrose etc, they are all incredibly expensive, but the queues have gone as no-one wants to or can afford the extraordinary prices.

Today typified things. Mug of tea 2£. Served as tea bag floating in mug. Go on a hunt to find milk, spoons etc. Served by the eternally damned or at least they look that way. No hello, no smiles, no thankyou’s. The atmosphere was dire. The tables looked like they had been sourced from a car boot sale selling ancient tables from a closed down club. Dirty. Smelly. It must have taken the last 20 years to extract every last ounce of atmosphere, pleasure, call it what you will. These places are devoid of anything resembling humanity.

Then the shops. Selling a selection of things that non-one in their right mind wants or needs. Buy a paper and one gets asked if one wants to buy two packets of chocolates for £4. The petrol station. Anywhere on this island diesel costs around 133.9-135.9 pence/litre. The more greedy local garages might ask for 137.9. The service station today was asking 144.9 pence/litre. This equates to an extra £7 a tank if I were to buy there.

Service stations are doomed. Only the desperate stop there in increasingly smaller amounts and the reasons above are why. Either charge a fortune but serve excellent stuff or charge reasonable prices in a reasonable atmosphere. Doomed unless you fancy buying one of these nice coats for sale in the shop. I am being serious…….

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