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CHALLENGE NUMBER UNO: Ritchey's hot food entry by ritchey

Posted on: May 2, 2005 7:00 PM

As many of you already know, there are a very small number (2) of things I love more than food. They are, in no particular order:
1. having all my arms and legs; and
2. food.

smelling gross food.jpg

My diet being mostly-vegan (for emotional reasons), my interest in food-related health being high, and my commitment to a heavily eating-based lifestyle being non pareil, you can imagine how excited I was when the new UNITEDSTATES.GOV food pyramid was released in late April. Unlike the old food pyramid which we learned in elementary school, and which I remember being totally baffling ("cereals?") as well as ethically/healthfully suspect (didn't it say you were supposed to eat like four servings of red meat every day? Well, that's the way I remember it. "Memory, Agent Starling, is what I have in place of a view."), the new .GOV sanctioned pyramid is not only aesthetically pleasing (incorporating many different neon-styled colors as well as a clip-art graphic of a multi-gendered person running spryly up it, effectively utilizing the food pyramid as a literal "staircase to health"), but it takes into account many (12) different lifestyle choices. Among these are "morbidly obese" and "light housework."

Until very, very recently, I led an incredibly sedentary lifestyle, thinking that my vegan high horse would carry me over the pitfalls of weight-gain and general body grossness that accompany the traditional American diet of 50 cheeseburgers and a six pack of beer ingested bi-daily.

Imagine my chagrin, then, when I inputed my daily food intake and discovered that the .GOV pyramid believes I ingest many, many fat points over my daily allowance. I was unaware, apparently, that "one (1) avocado" contains your entire day's dose of fat. That can't be right, can it? I added "three tbsp olive oil" to my chart, to see if that made my fat dose higher, but it didn't. However, my "oils" section now read "**." Additionally, there was a frowny face next to my "milk and dairy" section. Hardly surprising, but why a frowny face? Certainly if someone is intelligent enough to logon to the intraweb and downframe the .GOV pyramid webstation to their mainline, they are capable of understanding bar graphs without the help of emoticons.

The pyramid also told me that I eat too many fruits and vegetables.

The moral of the story is this: 20 years, unbelievable advancements in technology, and the creation of a multi-faceted interactive website have rendered the food pyramid just as incomprehensible as before, only now there are no "cereals" on it.

Pretty weak, U.S. Government. If you want people to lose weight, this is probably not the way to do it. Instead, why not try regulating the fast food industry? WHOA! What next, comrade?

Think about it.


Probably I'm being too harsh. At least they're trying. SOMEBODY must do SOMETHING. Do you people even know what's IN hot dogs? Neither do I. And brother, I don't want to.

While perusing the food pyramid, I was reminded of this New Yorker article I read some time ago while I was at the gym, trying to avoid the Fox News which was inexplicably being broadcast above the "arm and legs machine thingy" that I favor.

The article was one of those ha-ha chummy New Yorker pieces written in a sort of self-aggrandizing, mocking tone which I freely admit to using myself quite often. The piece was basically a short, autobiographical article completely and intentionally glorifying gluttony (a subject addressed in the opposite manner by our new food pyramid). The author, a self-described "gourmand," documents his quest to create The Perfect Lunch.

My Perfect Lunch would probably consist of bread, olives, and an avocado. Or, possibly, a really good burrito. I imagine your Perfect Lunch would be similar--maybe a really rad piece of fish, or the greatest pizza ever made. Maybe you want a hamburger and french fries, or your mother's lasagna. Mr. Peterson would say "a sandwich."

Not so the self-styled gourmand. His Perfect Lunch includes but is not limited to a suckling pig with delicate truffles stuffed UNDERNEATH ITS SKIN, and garnished with hundreds of garlic-braised frog legs which are cleverly inserted to create the illusion of spines running down the pig's back.

The quest for the Perfect Lunch ended in a small chateau in France, where The Lunch was cooked by one of the world's most famous chefs and served to a group of 10 or 20 people (men) who had all paid an outrageous sum of money for the honor of being present. The author says something like, "we chuckled when someone told us that for the cost of our lunch, we could each have purchased a Volvo. However, since we did not want a Volvo, we merely wanted lunch, we contented ourselves with the knowledge that having skipped dinner that night, we had recouped our losses."

or something.

I thought that was a pretty classy thing to say. If by "classy" you mean "the polar opposite of classy."

The Lunch was somewhere around 20 courses long, and consisted of things like 'baby pig snouts surrounding a creamed souffle made of the blood of fetal elephants' and that awful thing where they stuff a pig with a turkey, and they stuff the turkey with a chicken, and they stuff the chicken with a small rat, and they stuff the rat with a pigeon's egg, and then inside the pigeon's egg is the eyeball of an endangered gorilla or something.

I am not really exaggerating (I am exaggerating). The menu was pretty appalling. Rich people showing off how rich they are, how dissolute, how little they care about anything but tasting the most forbidden of fruits. One is reminded of the Roman royal family eating banquets and having sex while watching slaves run each other through with tritons in delightful holiday spectacles.

"Paolo, bring me the silvered tray of delicately spiced prawn croquets that Lady Haversbaugh'd sent via her maidservant sunday last. They should be topped with prawn emollients of only the finest prawn ink in preparation for mother's tea. And mind you adequately stock my bedchamber! Last night I awoke bruised and disoriented, and found the prawning toureen on my nightstand to be completely dry!" etc.

It seems like food is to these guys what giant pickup trucks are to city-dwelling, Oakleys-wearing men.

I think you know what I'm trying to say.

So, on the one hand, I deride the new food pyramid for being so impenetrable. But on the other hand, the pyramid sees the detriment to gluttony like this--it sees the unholy terror of a life wasted on putting too much crap, or the wrong kind of crap, into your body. Whether it's a terrible diet caused by overabundance, such as in the case of our friend the gourmand, or a terrible diet caused by poverty and poor education, as is the case with so many Americans, I have to give the food pyramid "mad propers" for "keeping it real." They could so easily have fallen prey to the fat cats who run this country (you KNOW George Bush eats him some endangered gorilla eyeball), or to the strangely omnipotent McDonald's Corporation. But they didn't. They didn't say that everyone needs to eat more "blood." They didn't say "support the massive conglomerates that make our nation strong by eating their food-based products no matter how actively harmful they are." They instead show you a healthy way to lose weight and lower your cholesterol in today's godforsaken America, where you can buy that new sandwich at Burger King that is a burger on top of ribs on top of a fried egg on top of six pieces of bacon wrapped around a pound of melted cheddar cheese. And the meat is mostly made of sawdust and old hot dogs. It's not often that a government institution actively tries to help people rather than just devising new ways to shiv them out of their money and turn them into blank, shambling zombies who just want the next O-Town album. And for that, I must commend them. Yes--I must commend the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, which, since rural electrification and the passing of Roe v. Wade, has done very little to impress me.

I for one welcome the new food pyramid. It is trying its best. I like to think that we in America will pay attention to it, our lives slowly becoming richer, longer, and more buoyant. Our plight shall no longer be one of needless suffering under the stress of heart problems. For us is not the road paved with sorrow that is eating nothing but chicken wings for breakfast lunch and dinner. For we have been shown a new way. We are not the mindless automatons our persnickety English brethren take us for--nay! We have been given the gift of the New Way and we shall not tarry. This way is colored with many bright neon lights, and we can run up it as though it is a veritable stairway to heaven. If we are wise enough to unlock the code of poor web-stationing that plagues it, I do believe the new food pyramid .GOV could bring us home to glory.

In other news: I just ate an entire loaf of french bread, because I felt like it.

I think I just disproved my own theory.


I know what you're thinking. "Whoa," you're thinking, "she posted first. Such audacity, such chutzpah, such SHEER MAGNIFICENCE."

Well, you'd be right.

If there's one thing you are to know about me in the context of this Blog-em-ups, it is the following:


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Posted by: matthew at May 2, 2005 9:54 PM

i had grilled chicken assholes on a stick last night , i think they put those in hotdogs. on reflection, i wonder why they call them chicken assholes; isn't it the ass, and not the actual hole that is on the stick?

Posted by: james at May 2, 2005 10:34 PM

my favorite thing about the new pyramid is the little person climbing up the stairs on the side. I like to imagine him/her reaching the top, sliding down the other side of the pyramid (WHEEEEEEE!) then running back to the stairs to climb again.

Posted by: Kevin at May 2, 2005 10:35 PM

yes kevin. food chutes and ladders. that is how they should have arranged it. the climbing and the falling in such a random fashion would totally keep me on my diet regimen.

Posted by: hoppock at May 2, 2005 10:53 PM

Where can I find this allegedly released and upgraded food pyramid? Everyone seems to have seen it but me!

I must admit, I pay little attention to pyramids.

Posted by: josh at May 2, 2005 11:59 PM

here is one

food pyramid

Posted by: james at May 3, 2005 1:11 AM

Way to use the verb "shiv," a way under used word. The best used word among a wide array of well used words in this post.
Batedly waiting for MORE.

Posted by: karina at May 3, 2005 2:12 AM


Not only are you genius, you're thorough!

I'm placing all bets on you.

Posted by: Jaime at May 3, 2005 7:50 AM

Awesome. I am glad I picked you as a "pick to click" in my pre-Ultimate Blogger watch list
As I promised my meager audience, I am going to piggyback and participate along with the Chosen 12, so check out my
food entry
And yes, my life is so sad that I am forced to play along with a blogging contest that rejected me!

Posted by: MDC at May 3, 2005 8:24 AM

I really don't see how Ritchey could possibly not win this thing.

Posted by: David Sampson esq. at May 3, 2005 8:36 AM

excellently written

although I personally think the food pyramid could have been much better

Slate Magazine has some better ideas here:

Posted by: Karina at May 3, 2005 8:39 AM

well, she's very cute. some good insights on relevant topic, but you had to read a lot to get to the insights and it looks like she needs to learn how to resize a photo.

check out frost street. yum.

Posted by: kirsten at May 3, 2005 8:43 AM

MDC posted a broken link. This one works. Also, far as I can tell, the first to meet the challenge was my post. It's true I'm not really a contestant, but I can hardly pass up the opportunity to strut a little in the face of "SHEER MAGNIFICENCE."

Posted by: Kyle Hasselbacher at May 3, 2005 9:20 AM

Kirsten. It is not my fault if you do not enjoy reading long missives. That is my forte. plus, what do you mean "resize images?" I wanted them BIG AND BOLD.

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 9:36 AM

After reading this post by the lovely Marianna Ritchey, I can see why my brother loves her so much. I am not currently wearing a hat, but if I was, I would be taking it off to you, right now. Good show, young lady.
Your Friend, and Admirer,
Joel Conrad Bechtolt

Posted by: Joel Conrad Bechtolt at May 3, 2005 10:00 AM

Dear Ritchey,

That was spot on -- good readin', and effective images.

But you know that already. And so does your competition, I'd wager. They must be a-shake-shake-shakin' in their little blogger boots.

Anyhow, t'was very good. I look forward to reading your next entry. :D

Hugs and an avocado,
Lauren Alyce
Ultimate Blogger Fangirl

Posted by: Lauren Alyce at May 3, 2005 10:07 AM

Oooh -- one more thing. I think you're the first contestant that I'm going to add to my blogroll. Cool beans. Only not too many beans -- the pyramid advises against too many beans

Also, the "'" in my "t'was" 'twas in the wrong place. Sorry. Just had to correct myself, lest someone assault me. Carry on.

Cool beans (but not too many),
Lauren Alyce
Ultimate Blogger Fangirl

Posted by: Lauren Alyce at May 3, 2005 10:15 AM

Thank you,Kyle Hasselbacher, for fixing my link. I knew I failed, but didn't want to shamelessly self-promote twice in one spot...Good to see another "wannabe" posting along with the real contestants.

Posted by: MDC at May 3, 2005 11:00 AM

This blog is sooo good, urban honking should have a sub contest, the prize being $500 to the first person who gets fired because they spent the entire day reading it.

c'mon self control!

Posted by: clayton at May 3, 2005 11:02 AM

Shout outs to all the posters. Shout out to Ritchey. MAD PROPS to urbanhonking. Clayton is right, this is a blog that is "sooo good".

Sooo Happy to be a Part of it,
Joel Conrad Bechtolt

Posted by: Joel Conrad Bechtolt at May 3, 2005 11:07 AM

A NEW WAY. Did a Vietnam vet summer camp chef assist you in the writing of this most excellent of theses? I am, as they say on the teevee, lovin' it.

Posted by: Kerry at May 3, 2005 11:39 AM

I vote we give a special prize to Kerry for most obscure comment.

Posted by: freddy at May 3, 2005 11:49 AM

Freddy, I feel like I am always telling you to watch Wet Hot American Summer. Why does it always come up like this?? "GENE?" "Will you show me this....what did you call it? A new way?" However, I second your nomination that kerry be praised for 'most obscure comment.'

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 11:58 AM

Clayton, that is a great point. As a judge and host, I am sure I will be the first of many fired for spending too much time here.

Ooh, but it will be worth it!

Posted by: Mikey at May 3, 2005 12:36 PM

I have nothing to say here. Unaffected. The first four posts and I'm beginning to wonder why I keep hitting next blog..

Posted by: DrScoundrel99 at May 3, 2005 12:58 PM

A spectacular post. The length conveys an "ultimate" passion for food, and the entry actually feels like it was edited down a bit. Similar to those impossibly long New Yorker articles, which still manage to leave the reader wanting more.

And the pictures only amplify the brilliantly bombastic tongue-in-cheek egoism of the entry's tone.

Really terrific post. I look forward to reading others.

Posted by: Dr. Awesomestuff at May 3, 2005 1:21 PM

oh, Dr. Scoundrel! I was just wondering the same thing.

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 1:25 PM



Posted by: Krystal at May 3, 2005 1:34 PM

Ritchey, I applaud you for just, you know, going there. Other people, I might rag on them for rambling and being random. You have embraced it and made it an art form. I know I'll be mocked for using a quarter word, but your post is confident and insouciant (I had to look that last one up to make sure it was what I wanted to say and it was: "Marked by blithe unconcern; nonchalant."). I wonder, though, does this entry work for people who don't know you? Does it help people get to know you, or does it all feel like an in joke?

Also, boo on reusing the prawns AGAIN. How about giving another crustacean a chance?

Posted by: freddy at May 3, 2005 1:35 PM

freddy, thank you for your comments. I don't know how my vibe is coming across---readers, what do you guys think? Does it feel like an in-joke, or is my vibe endearing? Also, freddy: Prawns are the only funny crustacean.

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 1:38 PM

this is good, ritchey
remember this is just the first play in a very very long game
keep up the intensity
keep up the power
keep up the rawness
keep it fierce
dont let me down


Posted by: RITCHEYS VOCAL COACH at May 3, 2005 2:02 PM

I'd have to say it felt like an in-joke kind of thing. I got most of the way through the post and thoroughly enjoyed the Perfect Lunch story, but you started losing my attention around that joke.

It seemed like that was a good place to sum up and tie everything together, but you continued elaborating on your views of the Food Pyramid. Good job actually addressing the topic though. It did come across how much you love food!

Posted by: enjanerd at May 3, 2005 2:09 PM

i don't mind reading long ones as long as they hold my interest.

Posted by: kirsten at May 3, 2005 2:15 PM

thanks for your comments, Kirsten!

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 2:22 PM

readers, what do you guys think? Does it feel like an in-joke, or is my vibe endearing?

Generally speaking, when one is not "in," in jokes become either bad jokes or no jokes. If there were some in jokes in your entry, that might explain some of the confused reactions I had.

That having been said, I liked your entry. I'm enjoying the sex-themed food postings, but I think they're a cheap thrill. Your post is entertaining without resorting to easy titilation. When I wrote last night about a possible entry using a sexual metaphor, I had Mimi in mind. True to expectations, she went right for sex in her entry, but I was still disappointed that she basically changed the subject part way through, abandoning food completely.

I thought yours was more true to the challenge, more clearly about food. Good work.

(As a side note, I didn't know Sanyo made 'fridges. Wacky.)

Posted by: Kyle Hasselbacher at May 3, 2005 2:23 PM

And enjanerd--point(s) taken. That is just my writing style, but maybe it is alienating. I will keep this in mind in the future.

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 2:23 PM

Kyle, I am interested in the 'in-joke' conception. Are ALL jokes considered in jokes, and therefore alienating, whether they are or not? Maybe I am just writing something I personally think is a funny thing to write. Does that come across? I also appreciate your thoughts on the content of my entry. This contest is going to be heavily played in the comments sections, and it's posts like yours that really keep me in my prime. ALL of you! All of you lovely posters!

Posted by: ritchey at May 3, 2005 2:26 PM

I just noticed that Mikey asked us spectators to complete the challenge ourselves and post a link in comments. I don't know where he wants us to post those, but this is as good as any. In the spirit of Ultimate Blogger I wrote an entry inspired by the lovely mild May evenings we've been having and by a recent trip. You can find it on Urban Honking's food-related blog here.

Posted by: freddy at May 3, 2005 3:15 PM

the best place for those comments referring to those "playing along at home," would probably be the entry on the ultimate blogger main page that intros the challenge.

Posted by: Steve Schroeder at May 3, 2005 3:18 PM

I consider an "in joke" to be a joke that an "in group" understands but others do not. Usually an in joke can be explained to an outsider by relating an anecdote, often followed by "you had to be there."

Maybe I am just writing something I personally think is a funny thing to write.

I do that too sometimes. People look at me funny (so to speak). What's interesting is that I've sometimes repeated those jokes enough that they took on meaning to listeners, and not always what I had in mind.

I think all jokes are (this is about to be really obvious) communication, and therefore (you're not going to believe how obvious this is) based on shared experience. That's why (I promise there's an insight here somewhere) it's easy to goof off with friends and family (with whom you've shared lots of experiences), but standup comedy (with a diverse audience of strangers) is hard.

And, oh yeah, bloggers have quite the diverse audience too. Plus you can't just do a pratfall when you're bombing.

Does that come across?

What were we talking about?

Er, yes, it does come across that you're enjoying your writing. That's part of what I like about it (and—duh!—It's definitely what I like about my writing).

Posted by: Kyle Hasselbacher at May 3, 2005 3:32 PM

This "Ritchey" has truly done for blogging what Ultimate Spider-Man has done for Spider-Manning. Kneel before Zod!

Or, in the absence of Zod, Ritchey!

Posted by: Adam Kline at May 3, 2005 4:20 PM

I liked your post Ritchey. I haven't spent much time with the new food pyramid and it�s clear I need to remedy that in the near future. Thanks for giving me vivid reminders of our government at work in our daily lives. *w* Loved it.

Posted by: Lois at May 3, 2005 4:26 PM

*chuckle* good point, lois.

personally, i hope ritchey remains in the running. there is no way on earth i would ever win this competition.

she's smart, she's cute, she's obviously a risk taker, she writes well. what's there not to like?

just sayin'....


Posted by: kirsten at May 3, 2005 5:42 PM

You are right up there, right up with my favorite authors of all time.

I am so glad to have discovered you, ms. ultimate wordsmith!

Posted by: zoe o at May 3, 2005 6:09 PM

I mean, not that you needed to be discovered. This isn't america, i'm not columbus, a man isn't a typewriter, she's not a pool, etc.

Posted by: zoe o at May 3, 2005 6:17 PM

ritchey, about avocados. i'm pretty sure they're the 'good' fat if you know what i mean. like olive oil or omega 3 and the like. the unsaturated fats help carry out the saturated fats from the bloodstream, i think. or i hope because i LOVE avocados so much i don't want to think they could be bad ! noooooo !!

Posted by: honey at May 3, 2005 7:47 PM

I just want to say that Ritchey's post has been the only one so far (joel has not yet posted so I don't want to exclude him) to be really honestly funny. I know that this is not the ultimate comedy-blog competition (guys? maybe next season?), but humor goes a long way to forge a sense of connection between the blogger and the bloggee (aka audience). I mean, eyeball of an endangered gorilla? Blood of a fetal elephant? "If by 'classy' you mean 'the polar opposite of classy'?" This is pure comedy gold, people. Genius.


Posted by: fiona at May 3, 2005 10:55 PM

i just took a chinese doctors diet test... and it said i should avoid avocados, grapefruit, chick peas, and bananas. ......o.\\.....klj can't comments.....sapuppys playing with keyboards bye

Posted by: james at May 3, 2005 11:48 PM

regarding the debate over whether ritchey's writing style is an alienating "in-joke" thing, or whether it is "endearing": i would have to say that it is mostly endearing, but feels a bit exclusive, in that i don't know her at all but read her blogs regularly as an outsider who is presumptuous enough to think that she "understands." is this a good thing? i don't know. what i mean to say is, "i wish ritchey and i were friends."

Posted by: miranda at May 4, 2005 12:13 AM

Again in this "debate", I wouldn't call it "in-joke". It's rather a way she picks quotations and refers to things outside the text. I like that.

... fly ... hi ...

Posted by: boggart at May 4, 2005 7:54 AM

loving to see the octopus wristband in action

Posted by: sted at May 4, 2005 10:52 AM

Fats in food has gotten a bad rap, it seems. Naturally-occuring fats are so important, and so damn tasty. Yes, there's plenty of saturated fat in, say, a coconut, but when eaten within one's caloric needs, I don't believe that it's at all harmful. People steer clear of cooking with pure expeller-pressed coconut and palm oils, but will gladly use chemically-extracted and hydrogenated oils that aren't even found in nature.

Fat satiates you! It makes your skin lovely and hair lustrous. I'm not talking about eating a pound of ground beef in a sitting, but more the luscious creamy fats found my beloved avocadoes.

I say bring on the coconuts and avocadoes (and even some eggs, organic milk & cheese), and ignore the US dietary guidelines.

(then again, there are some really ignorant people out there who should probably not be ignoring these guidelines. Such is evolution, I 'spose).

Posted by: My opinion at May 4, 2005 5:17 PM