Here’s your weekly journey into the mind of Colm O’Regan.
I STARED at it. Defeated before I’d even started. I bet a younger me would have managed it no problem.
It’s probably made for a younger me. A small-boy me, teenage me or even early 20s me with a metabolism like a hazardous waste incinerator. Remember the shite you’d eat before without thinking?
Sweets that looked like they might have been made from the by-product of Big Pharma. Jellies that would make Refresher bars and Meanies taste like natural yoghurt by
comparison. Previous iterations of my stomach burned though it all, turning Emulsifiers and Dichlorohydrofidodidophosphate into Energy Powering Our Homes.
Even when well into my twenties, I could recover from hangovers by
reducing a bottle of Lemon, Mighty munch and WWF on Sky 1 to protein molecules. Now I feel I might need to notify the life insurance people if I’m going to be up to anything stronger than a Marietta.
What I was staring at was the first ice-cream sundae I had ever ordered. I don’t know how I had managed 40 years without one. The first 20 years don’t count because sundaes were only visible here in Happy Days. But even with the explosion in 1950s-tyle American diners it became harder to avoid them.
These diners have changed a lot about how we eat burger and chips. Whereas before you’d wonder if it was better to get a large bag or just hope they’d throw in the complementary scoop with each, now you could spend hours on a milkshake wondering who Danny Zuccherelli was going to bring to the prom.
(These diners don’t emulate everything about the American 1950s. There isn’t racial segregation or unprotected nuclear tests or carpet bombing of Korea — but still, good times at the jukebox.)
The sundae was in a sundae glass which was the size and heft of a weapon used to kill a wealthy dowager by her ne’er do well niece in a case solved by Poirot. The whole thing was taller than my children. I was supposed to eat it all. I couldn’t manage more than a third.
Correction: I ate a third before I gave up and then another third after I gave up. Scientists estimate that up to 65% of all desserts, by mass, are eaten by people protesting to take that away from me, I swear I’m going to die.
I get why huge portions are important sometimes. A breakfast roll for a builder who has been digging trenches since 8. A ‘feed’ of spuds for the fella doing the silage. That makes sense. But most of us have done nothing to deserve these portions.
It’s not enough to get an ordinary burger now. You need one that requires planning permission and structural steel. Lasagnes are big enough to qualify for REPs money to promote wildlife around the boundaries. And what else would you do with this stuff only eat it.
As it happens the previous week I was doing a bit of tidying around the home place and I came across the Wedgewood plates my parents got for their wedding.
They were the good plates — so good they were never used and now have become infected with whatever blight old plates get.
But it’s the size of them that struck me: 50-year-old dinner plates are no bigger than a skin plate. (For younger readers a skin-plate is a side-plate but the main thing you’d have on them is potato skins.)
Just like you’d reduce the amount of drinking if you made the can smaller, making great plates again would at least give us pause for thought.
I say pause. Not stop. We still need self-control. The day after my unjust desserts, I was in a self-service eatery and the plates there were small, and I piled up my plate so high I looked like I was looting.
Maybe every day is like sundae.
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