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Fatty liver

Men, if you think hair loss, knee pain, backache, a pot belly and manboobs will be the most fearful consequences of old age, add one more specter to the list: a fatty liver.

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Mr. Henry has one. (The wags might say Mr. Henry is one.) The discovery of this ticklish condition, however, has led to a new diet breakthrough.

Mr. Henry’s surefire weight loss method. Lose ten pounds in ten weeks!

How? You ask how?

First, develop an undiagnosable digestive disorder preventing you from eating more than appetizer portions at one sitting. Coffee, cheese, or anything fatty gives you nausea and stomach cramp, so they’re off the menu until further notice. Because your liver has grown fatty, your gastroenterologist will advise you to limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day. (You can sneak another, but don’t tell Dr. Romeu.)

Second, when the child goes off to camp for three weeks, prepare nothing at home more ambitious than salad with something grilled tossed on top (and maybe a little green tea). If you go out to eat, order only the appetizer. (Refusing to be buffaloed by wait staff, Mrs. Henry has been doing this years.)

Third, make sure your air conditioner breaks on Saturday evening. New York City repairmen don’t retrieve messages until Monday, no matter how plaintive, and don’t begin to act until Tuesday or Wednesday. Furthermore, make the AC chiller unit shatter its drive shaft. (Replacement shafts are never in stock.) If you do this during the worst heat wave of the summer, you’re bound to lose nearly a pound per day. Mr. Henry offers his personal guarantee. When it’s this hot, the most anyone can hope to consume is popcorn and white wine.

Fourth, eat a diet inspired by French cures for la crise de foie, even though such a term is not accepted by medical science, even in France. Eat artichokes, salad, bitter greens, lemon, papaya, mint and ginger. (Ginger helps the stomach empty its contents into the duodenum. You had to ask.) Then eat more artichokes.

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Here is a southeast Asian style salad dressing that transforms romaine lettuce, carrots, Thai basil, tomato and grilled chicken into princely fare:

1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon peanut butter (or sunflower butter)
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
three dashes of Tabasco
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil is not the best, but it’s OK)
salt

HalloWHAT?

Women laughing "alone" with salad Halloween Costume

Women laughing "alone" with salad Halloween Costume

If you’re at all like me (and who would admit it if they were?) you’ve got a stack of Self magazines head-high taking up the space where your life-size Aragorn used to stand proudly, and what have you got to show for it except an exhaustive knowledge of the phytochemical composition of any grocery item, the ability to perform a flawless  plié squat, and about ten million pictures of Women Laughing Alone With Salad.

Well, now you can put that collection to practical use as the model for a cheap and un-constricting Halloween costume! Bonus cultural literacy points for timely meme reference that only about 25% of your friends will get, even if you’re all on Tumblr.

If putting on and keeping on a happy face is too much for you, then you could always fall back on our suggestion of last year.

The Andy Warhol Diet

The Andy Warhol New York City Diet

These days it seems like everybody, no matter how unqualified, has a diet plan nowadays, but frankly, this Andy Warhol New York City diet sounds like a winner to me. You could always count on Andy to get to the heart of the American experience while simultaneously hovering outside of the mainstream.

…he explained in his 1975 book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol that he stayed thin by ordering things he disliked in restaurants — even fashionable and expensive ones such as La Grenouille. While his companions ate, he picked at his plate and then had the food wrapped up so he could leave it somewhere for a homeless person to find.

Nowadays, of course, he could just hand it to the two or three people sitting on the sidewalk directly outside the restaurant, or call FoodRunners or the NYC equivalent. Then Andy would go off to Chock Full O’ Nuts and order a cream cheese and nut sandwich on date-nut bread just like he always did, and which is, if you think about it, quite respectable and delicious as long as you steer clear of cheap Chinese walnuts. I’ll take mine with hazelnuts, please, to go.

“Progress is very important and exciting in everything except food.”
Andy Warhol

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Which would you rather?

Celery pills, because who wants to EAT the damn stuff?

30 days’s worth of celery pills for the sake of your cartilage OR
Wanton pork! Come up and soo-ey me some time!

Be honest. Who doesn’t like a good wanton pork now and again?

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Not hungry

The deep satisfaction of vegan cuisine on the magic mountain of Koya-san seems to have stymied Mr. Henry’s urge to write. He feels spiritually cleansed. He feels gastro-intestinally cleansed. Ideas and aperçus about food in its many transmogrifications flit continuously through the Henry imagination, but fail to perch on solid outcrop. What is happening?

Mr. Henry is simply not very hungry.

The seasonal combination of warm weather, flowering trees, and a noticeable layer of winter fat round the waist together with a strange energy bounce from reverse jet lag left him without an appetite for anything more than good coffee, bananas, yogurt, pecan raisin bread and dark chocolate in the morning, and for salads, cheese and wine at night – all foods difficult to find in Japan, apart from good coffee, that is, which was uniformly excellent except at the one expensive hotel the Henry party visited, the Swissôtel in Osaka.

Mr. Henry is usually disappointed by restaurant coffee, particularly in fine dining establishments where management bumps up your bill an extra seven bucks for an acrid, watery, lukewarm espresso instead of charging an honest buck fifty for a hot cup of paper filter drip.

A recent New York Times article decried the nauseating coffee you get in Paris. Of all beautiful places where you most want to sit outside, drink a coffee, and watch impeccably dressed women swish-clicking past, Paris was once the first choice. But since the French all suffer from rotten-coffee stomach cramp, it’s no wonder they are so depressed.

People watching in Japan holds special merits. Thigh-high boots are de rigueur. Although this is a fashion mistake, and although women in Japan all seem to have misshapen knees from kneeling on tatami mats, and although high heels induce an awkward gait (apologies to The Manolo), when sitting gazing from behind your cup of rich, delicious coffee you need not wait very long for the happy chance to examine yet another youthful thigh.

Fashion trends no longer originate in Paris. Look to Tokyo for the next new thing in fashion as well as in food. Pickles and raw egg on rice for breakfast, anyone? Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Michael Pollan is your Bubbeh

After explaining how certain plants have co-evolved through human cultivation (The Botany of Desire), after explaining why fakockteh factory frankenfoods are ruining our bodies and our planet (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), and after laying out an eater’s manifesto for the age (In Defense of Food), now Michael Pollan is laying down the law about exactly what to eat (Food Rules).

This we need?

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Taken as a whole, the book’s 64 prescriptions confirm something more: Michael Pollan is your grandmother. In pithy Talmudic aphorisms he’s trying to nudge the world into keeping a new kosher.

Rule #8 – Avoid food products that make health claims.

Rule #11 – Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

Rule #13 – Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

Rule #21 – It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or   Pringles.)

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Oy, gevalt! Listen up. Americans are potchkeying around with their natural bounty, making a mishmash of their lives and everyone else’s, too. What’s happening to them shouldn’t happen to a dog. Enough already. Keep eating this meshuggener Western diet and you’re going to plotz!

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Better you should eat what grandma ate, says Michael. It can’t hurt.

Sour grass

Death, divorce, and debt – the glorious three “d’s” of Sotheby’s and Christies – currently bedevil the extended Henry family, though fortunately not the immediate household. Mrs. Henry believes in keeping up routines and bloat.jpgdoes not countenance such prodigality.

Christmas holidays likewise bring forth a perpetual wellspring of objects seeking new ownership – apple corers, nutcrackers, scented candles in matched sets, cherry red windbreakers and frightful neckties.

Holidays also bear gifts of depression, indigestion, intestinal cramp, bloat and a throbbing gall bladder. Each year Mr. Henry swears he will leave for the holidays because too many around him take leave of their senses, and because despite his renowned self-control at the table, during holidays he abandons all sense of moderation and proportion.

Christmas tradition revives bad food habits from the storied Middle Ages, blithe era of famine, contagion, and dogma. Eggnog (vanilla nutmeg ice cream in a glass!), triple cream cheeses, bon bons wrapped in sparkly foil, preserved fruit, mincemeat, liqueurs, layer cakes, assorted chocolates with cream filling, and nuts roasted in peanut oil, palm oil, or coconut oil. Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, fat was a good thing.

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Today these caloric gut-bombs serve as anti-depression medications self-prescribed to remedy seasonal affective disorder, better known as the blues and the blahs, horse latitudes of the soul.

What brings out the holiday nuts? After four scotches nutty Uncle Jack dressed in plaid jim-jams slips on the patio black ice and cracks his humerus. Ha! Not so funny now, Uncle Jack’s funny bone.

Brother Clifford treats his seasonal disorders with sour green juice of fresh barley grass mixed with V-8. It puckers the gums mightily, but also promotes good digestion and cures bad breath.wcfields.jpg

Clifford subscribes to the philosophy of a ph-balanced diet, that is, eating foods that promote an alkaline environment in the blood. Contrary to expectations, preachers of the ph-balanced way do not necessarily extol foods that are themselves alkaline. Lemons and limes are recommended, for example. Wine and vinegar are forbidden, as is coffee. Leafy vegetables are encouraged. Meat is discouraged. It’s hard to keep up. You’d better buy the ph bible.

Clifford claims it cured his incipient diabetes, chronic headache, chronic backache, and fatigue. If you add hoarseness, cottonmouth, snoring, dropsy, flatulence, hip pain and plantar fasciitis, you’ve got old age pretty much covered.

GOOP

Gwyneth Paltrow, of all unlikely persons, has a new lifestyle blog – GOOP – the name derived from her initials G and P. In the food section (“Make”) she offers practical good-sense recipes suitable for young women like herself at home with small children, recipes even more suitable for young women like herself at home with cooks and nannies and part-time bloggers.

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When GOOP was attacked on the websites of both Tina Brown and Arianna Huffington, the internet’s evil step-sisters, right away Mr. Henry felt compelled to rise to poor Gwyneth’s defense. After all, isn’t she the only American screen actress ever to have delivered a convincing English accent?

As a fellow celebrity Mr. Henry appreciates Gwyneth’s conundrum. How do you spread the simple joy of being you without appearing to gloat or preen?

Is it wrong for an artist to be self referential? Back in the 17th century did not Rembrandt’s rivals accuse him of painting too many self-portraits? Who today would make that argument? (And it should be noted that Rembrandt in black leotard body-suit didn’t cut half the figure Gwyneth cuts doing leg raises for her new workout video, or rather he cut twice the figure Gwyneth cuts…….let’s not belabor the point.)

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Granted, some of her recipes aren’t really recipes, the one for boiling frozen peas, for example. Instructions on how to eat an artichoke may perhaps be unnecessary for “grownies” reading her blog. Moreover, to season a roast chicken do we really need to hunt down ½ teaspoon of Mallorcan hibiscus salt? For reasons left unexplained the only other meat she discusses is turkey, mostly ground for meatballs or sausage.

Nevertheless the site is beautifully designed and the writing is replete with sunny, winning, personal asides. Her noteworthy blunder, however, comes in a discussion of what she calls detox or “Master Cleanse.”

“If your bowel movements get sluggish, you can accelerate things by drinking half a cup of castor oil or using a mild herbal laxative. Bowel elimination is paramount for correct detoxification.”

Whatever the merits of this grandmotherly advice, when earthbound mortals imagine stars nestled in their starry pantheon, thoughts of sluggish bowels have no place in the picture. A certain mystery is lost. For future posts it might be best, darling Gwyneth, to leave poop out of Goop.

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