You Think YOU’RE a Glutton

You think we’re bad: I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s book At Home, a Short History of Private Life about how the upper classes once lived and all I can say is it looks like they were even worse than we Americans are, inhaling whatever high-calorie special KFC is now touting.

When he wrote this book Bryson was living in the old house of an 18th century rural clergyman, and so spent however long it takes Bill to write a book  – what, six weeks? Six days? – going room by room through the place, offering meditations and curious facts about the uses of each room through history.

It’s a big old doorstop of a book; Bryson’s editors never seem to cut his words down and as a result I have learned quite a lot.

One thing I have learned is about the eating habits of another man of the cloth who left a very thorough journal called The Diary of a Country Parson.

Here’s what that guy ate at one meal in 1784:

  • Dover sole and lobster sauce
  • Spring chicken
  • Ox tongue
  • Roast beef
  • Filet of veal with morels and truffles
  • Pigeon pie
  • Sweetbreads
  • Green goose and peas
  • Apricot jam
  • Cheesecakes (plural if you please!)
  • Stewed mushrooms
  • Trifle

Then another day for supper he had

  • A platter of tench
  • A ham
  • Three fowls
  • Two roasted ducks
  • A neck of  pork
  • Plum pudding and plum tart
  • Apple Tart
  • Miscellaneous foods and nuts and as also with the previous meal
  • Wines both red and white, beer, and ciderIf he lived today he’d be a fan of Colonel Sanders for sure. That new menu item the Bacon Bowl? Check out the ad and see if you don’t think it’s right up the old parson’s alley. “Today tastes SO good,” the ad ends. And tomorrow? Well we’ll worry about how to get your 600 pound self off the sofa then.

KFC’s Bacon Bowl

Ask Any Insect

Here’s a thought for the day: Trees win. The boy who owned this bike parked it and went to war in 1914 and maybe he was one of the 21 million who died during that horrid global conflict. In his book “The History of Everything” Bill Bryson says that that same number died in the Great Influenza Epidemic of 1918, also known as the Spanish Flu and the Swine Flu. The difference: it took four years and the senseless slaughter brought about by trench warfare to kill all the combatants in that conflict. It took the Flu four months. And yet….

And yet: the boy went off and the bike leaned waiting for him against the then-young tree. Did the tree come to feel sorry for the bike? Did it extend itself to embrace him, saying “Come I’ve got you now”?  Whatever happened, I take it for a message from the universe: Trees win. Life wins. Ask any insect. Ask any microbe.