Cumberland Times-News

October 12, 2013

Feed them bacon; it will work wonders

Jim Goldsworthy, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— Certain terms or phrases must have been thought up by someone who had entirely too much time on his hands.

For want of anything productive to do, he found it necessary to make something sound more impressive than it is and, in doing so, quite possibly justified his job and high salary.

Often it’s someone who works in government or on a committee of some kind that is engaged with government on behalf of the public.

Some members of the media actually are impressed by this word enhancement and use the terms in their stories.

As for myself, I apply Goldy’s Rule 140: Painting “Titleist” on a spheroid of horse manure doesn’t turn it into a golf ball.

Here are a few examples of these terms or phrases:

“Eliminate with extreme prejudice” is a holdover from White House updates on the Vietnam War. It means “kill.”

“Viewshed,” is what most people would call “scenery” and apparently is a variation of “watershed.” (The English have what they call a “water closet,” but it has nothing to do with scenery.)

“Stakeholder,” refers to someone who “has a stake” in something. If you have a kid in school, you are a “stakeholder,” where the board of education is concerned. (I always thought a stakeholder was the guy who holds a piece of wood of sharpened wood so the hammerholder can drive it into the vampire’s heart.)

“Visioning” and “brainstorming,” describe the process by which people collaborate to produce Great Ideas. Stories about one or the other appear occasionally in the Times-News. “Visioning” and “brainstorming” usually are initiated by people who either can’t leave well-enough alone or have a problem they can’t solve.

Goldy’s Rule 47b says: Few Great Ideas are actually Good Ideas; if they truly were Good Ideas, somebody else would already have thought of them and put them into practice.

Great Ideas can be conceived by anyone, ranging from a select group of supposed professionals to a bunch of drunk guys sitting in a bar. I have been a participant in both variants. That’s how I know drunks often come up with better ideas because they aren’t worried about offending somebody.

The chief value of either visioning or brainstorming is the same that’s associated with any committee: No one person gets all the credit if it turns out to be a good idea, or all of the blame if it’s a bad idea.

Recently, I heard this term: “plant-based meats.”

I thought all meats were plant-based. One way or another, meat involves critters that occupy various places on the food chain. The critter at the absolute bottom of the chain must eat plants. Otherwise, the chain collapses.

I recently ate a delicious cheeseburger in which three of the elements — the meat, the cheese and the mayonnaise — were plant-based. (Dining on a New York strip would have made me a “steakholder.”)

The first two were derived from a cow critter that ate corn or grass.

The third involved oil that was squozen from some kind of plant, plus an egg produced by a chicken that ate grains as part of a diet supplemented by insects that ate plants and/or other plant-eating insects — which means the insects themselves were plant-based meats. The bun, lettuce, tomato and onion all came directly from plants.

OK. I heard you. This needs to be addressed once and for all. Let’s deal with it now.

We say “freeze,” “froze,” “frozen.” That’s considered proper English. Why should we not say, “squeeze,” “squoze,” “squozen”? Go ahead. Tell me.

“Plant-based meats” most likely refers to food items that are constructed entirely from plants and are designed to resemble meat in appearance, but include no meat.

I remember when these things first came out. My then-wife bought some ersatz bacon or sausage and we tried it. After one bite, we looked at each other and said, “To hell with this. Let’s have the real thing.”

Vegetables should taste like vegetables and, when prepared by someone who knows how (particularly in the case of kale, spinach, collards and other greens), are delicious. Trying to get them to taste like meat, fish or poultry doesn’t work ... at least not most of the time. You can come close with mushrooms

Guy Fieri on TV’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a confirmed carnivore, but he occasionally eats vegetarian dishes and likes them. I can say the same.

Since I started eating more vegetables and less meat, I’ve lost 20 pounds, and my doctor is pleased with that.

I still eat bacon at least once a week. Bacon is filled with chemicals and fat that are supposed to be bad for you, but it tastes too good to give up.

Bacon is said to be responsible for the deflowering of more vegetarians than any other meat product.

Being a non-meat-eater isn’t as simple as it sounds. I’ve never been able to keep straight what makes one person a vegetarian while another is a vegan (Vegans live on a planet that orbits the brightest star in the constellation Lyra). I do know that it has to do with what they eat or don’t eat.

And then there are those who practice Pescatarianism, which is not a religion, but has to do with fish-eating.

To me, they’re like boy grasshoppers and girl grasshoppers: If they can tell the difference, why do I care?

A cannibal would look at vegans and vegetarians as — say it with me — plant-based meat.

Eat what you like, but be reasonable about it.

Back in the day, The Sage and I engaged in some culinary brainstorming and produced a delicious bachelor’s meal of veal and mushrooms on a bed of cooked spinach.

The spinach was good, but it became known to us the next day that we had eaten too much of it. Trust me when I say that you do not want to eat too much spinach.

The bottom line is that food does not have to involve meat to be good.

After all, how damn much meat does beer have in it?