Kale chips. Green, baked, crunchy, and the absolute antithesis of anything I’d want positioned on my coffee table during a weekend binge of ballgames. In gyms, supermarkets, and with various roadside entrepreneurs, the Kale bandwagon gathers support. “It’s healthy and yummy,” they say, as though baked grass or anything else comprised of chlorophyll and vitamins could appease an appetite. And yet, this is what it’s all come down to. I’m sitting here, oven-side, waiting for kale chips to finish baking so I can derive my A, and C and other nutritious anti-oxidants in order to fight off things scurvy-inducing and cancerous.
When I was younger, ripping open a sack of corn chips or popping the Pringles provided a certain delight – the curled shapes, the oleaginous smell, the attendant crunch, the greasy fingers, the unrelenting saltiness – an entire sensory experience vacuum packed and sealed for my pleasure. I’d plop some Fritos between the bread slices of my bologna sandwich and revel in the assault upon my taste buds. “Betcha can’t eat just one” was less marketing slogan than opportunity for exaggeration, “Betcha can’t eat one hundred!” we’d challenge. Phrases like trans-fats and cholesterol and sodium content had the resonance of a belch in the breeze.
And then something changed. Adolescent pleasures surrendered to maturity’s safeguards. I started becoming aware of terms like calories and serving size and nutritional value. My doctor stopped giving me vaccinations and, instead, started taking blood and touching me in places that once would have been considered “inappropriate.” Yellow and tasty turned green and gross. Fast food became good food and I heard my self say things like “Can you do that without cheese” and “Hold the fries and just give me a salad.” It was deflating in ways that only Viagra junkies can truly empathize.
It’s possible the pendulum is askew. Maybe we’ve gone too far with our desire to make the inedible edible. Maybe kale shouldn’t be baked, and carrots shouldn’t be julienned, and beets shouldn’t be shaken and stirred. Perhaps green gardens and foods requiring sunlight should be left for the rabbits. I think we all need to revisit the pleasure of Cool Ranch Doritos and to find a way to smile. Until then, let the chips fall where they may.