Copyright 2001 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner: by Linda Marcas

                                        Middle-Aged Spreads

    In a couple of days, I'll be 47.  By some miracle of genetics, the circumference of my waistline
does not yet equal the years of my age; I seriously doubt that I can say the same for my hips.  So what?  
middle-aged, and I have middle-age spread.

     This is as it should be; how else could people tell that I've spent years developing powerful
muscles that allow me to sit for hours on end without fatigue?  I don't understand those folks who try to
back the weight of the years with rigorous exercise and ascetic diets, because I know that time and
will win in the end.  Go ahead and exercise if you enjoy it, but don't bother with dieting and attempting to
fool your tastebuds by subtituting "lite" or low-fat foods for the real thing; none of that stuff is as good for
you as it pretends to be, and the sense of deprivation it creates is counter-productive in the end.  Good
is one of the best things in life, and we shouldn't mess with it.

    Margerine is fine for making boxed mac-n-cheese dinners and baking certain cookies, but for toast
and fresh bread, there is nothing like butter.  A fresh, thick slice of crusty bread, spread with thin slices of
cold, unsalted butter, with a tiny sprinkle of salt on top, is pure delight for the senses.  I can't stand it when
people ask me if I want butter with my dinner rolls, then pass me a tub of margerine when I say, "yes."  I
don't want to be rude, but I really feel like screaming, "margerine isn't butter!" at them.  Instead, I quietly
"butter" my roll, then leave it on the side of the plate like I forgot to eat it.

    There's nothing like cream cheese for spreading on a bagel; if you like the flavored kinds that come
in little plastic tubs, fine, but please don't try to pass "lite" cream cheese off as the real thing, because it
won't work.  Whipped cream cheese is another travesty; the texture is all wrong, and it doesn't have that
wonderful, rich density that makes cream cheese so yummy.  And,  although cream cheese has fewer
calories ounce for ounce than butter, it won't do to spread it as thinly as butter, because the
ratio would be all wrong.  Smear it on nice and thick the way God intended, and give thanks for good
Mayonnaise has never been high on my list of spreads, but I'm fairly certain that light mayo would
be even lower.  Miracle Whip, on the other hand, is always in my fridge.  You might be able to use the
version in tuna salad and get away with it, but for a BLT or other sandwich, the old fashioned high-fat
version is the only way to go.  Compared to what you're putting in the rest of the sandwich, the extra
calories don't matter much, but the difference in flavor is immense.

    Someone has probably tried to make a reduced-fat peanut butter, but I don't recall ever seeing any,
so chances are it didn't work.  Jams and jellies with "no added sugar" seem okay, perhaps because they
usually didn't have "added sugar" in the first place.  High fructose corn syrup is not the same thing as sugar
as far as the list of ingredients is concerned, and neither is fruit juice concentrate, but it all boils down to
something that makes the jam sweet.  The calories are all there, and they don't care where they came
Neither should you, so go ahead and enjoy them.

    When I was little, my mother used to make butter-and-sugar sandwiches for me, and my aunt used
to feed me strawberry jam and cream cheese on toast.  I've been known to spread bacon fat on my toast
if I
was out of butter, but I don't recommend this if you aren't of East European descent.  With an English
muffin, I like bitter orange marmalade and butter.  Peanut butter and bacon on toast tastes better than it
sounds, as does salmon-flavored cream cheese on a bagel.  Except for the flavored cream cheese, none
these spreads are recent inventions. The middle-aged spreads, the ones that have been around for fifty
or more, are always better than their new, light, fat-free counterparts.

    So, my fellow forty-somethings, I urge you to stop fighting the battle of the bulge by depriving
yourselves and your tastebuds of the rewards of good food.  Ignore the propaganda that says you should
as thin as you were in your twenties, and fix yourself a nice snack if you feel like it.  We are middle-aged,
and we deserve to enjoy our middle-aged spreads.

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