Wednesday, April 13, 2005

this is why luther had the stroke

Solidifying widespead beliefs about the poor eating habits of Southerners (and the arteries of its customers), Mulligan's Pub in Decatur, Georgia, currently features two of the most mind-boggling culinary disasters ever to come from a deep fryer.

The first is the "Hamdog," a hot dog wrapped by a beef patty that's deep fried, covered with chili, cheese and onions and served on a hoagie bun. If that wasn't enough, it's also topped with a fried egg and two fistfuls of fries.

The other is the "Luther Burger," a bacon cheeseburger served on a grilled Krispy Kreme doughnut bun. Rumor has it that the donut-cheeseburger concoction is one of R&B singer Luther Vandross' favorite comestibles, and some versions of the rumor even go so far as to suggest that the singer actually invented the dish (on a day when he ran out of hamburger buns). Vandross' unfortunate recent stroke makes me wonder, if he did eat the burgers, if that contributed to his condition.

Combined with ongoing studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leader of the nation's anti-obesity campaign, the fare at Mulligan's paints a bad picture of Southern cuisine. CDC noted a large concentration of counties with high stroke death rates in North and South Carolina and Georgia. More than three decades later, the high stroke rates in that region seem to have shifted west to counties along the Mississippi River Delta.

While both dishes sound delicious in a perverse way, it goes to show that we're not eating any better as a region and we're suffering for it. Combining Southern cooking styles with the increasing presence of institutional food processing is literally killing us.

It's nearly impossible to change the highly regimented food industry, but we as Southerners need to combine our culinary traditions with more responsible behavior. Both of these creations need to be thrown into the compost bin, and we need to eat more grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and exercise more. Smaller portions wouldn't hurt either.

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