You know, sometimes I really do feel old. I have been blissfully floating through my retirement, feeling comfortably complacent about my quotidial dietary routine: half a bagel (with peanut butter) for breakfast, and ditto for lunch –or maybe half of a naked, toasted bagel but covered with ½ a can of baked beans when the mood strikes. Only at supper do I allow myself something closer to a Mediterranean menu to keep my stomach from launching a counteroffensive as it drives by a corner store. I do not proselytize about it, of course. My mother didn’t either: if I didn’t eat whatever was on my plate, it would be waiting for me in the next meal. So in my dotage, I decided to revive a homiletic lesson from her, and start simple.
And that seemed to work -banal as it may seem, and boring as it might be to countenance an existence with little more to look forward to than halibut or salmon barbecued in tinfoil with frozen peas, or perhaps sushi in a local restaurant every other Sunday. I have considered going vegan, of course, but there seems little consensus amongst the permanent residents of my mouth that it would be an improvement, although they are always on the lookout. The rest of me is embarrassed with my profligate use of tinfoil and what the barbecue might contribute to climate change.
I like to think I make up for it with my Spartan dessert menu, though -nothing improvident there. I look forward to desserts, and usually keep a cookie or two in the freezer. Okay, freezers use energy and secretly release climate-destroying hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant flatus when they think no one is around, but I’m really careful when I open the lid. And I individually wrap each cookie and double seal it in Ziploc bags. It means I have to plan ahead, you see, and I am less likely to succumb to temptation and gorge if I have to unwrap and microwave one each time. It’s a trick my mother taught me… well, actually I got the idea from the cake pieces she used to hide in plastic boxes in the bottom of the freezer, camouflaged amongst the other opaque and unlabelled containers. There, unless you were in possession of the exact coordinates, you might lose a hand. Nobody messed with the cake!
At any rate, I suppose that some might accuse me of dietary legerdemain, but I feel I come by it honestly. Set your sights low enough, and almost every variation becomes a treat -I live alone, and simply, and as long as no one peaks through the curtains and catches me in flagrante delicto with the toaster, I am not in the slightest embarrassed. I do not covet mention on the timeline of anybody’s Facebook page… Did I say that right?
And yet, not in my wildest cravings, had I ever imagined the titillating smuttiness of a freakshake, let alone seen it posted on either of my two friends’ Facebook pages. If you had asked me to define it, unGoogled, I probably would have guessed it was something made of silly putty and non-toxic crayons. I am clearly behind the times.
Still, perhaps I should make a point of not scrolling willy-nilly through the apps on my phone unchaperoned; I have to admit that the BBC Health article caught me totally by surprise: https://www.bbc.com/news/health-46179175 I mean, I was looking for Health news -advice on how to extend my life, not my girth.
A freakshake, according to the Barista Institute, is a mega milkshake that contains an oversupply of anything and everything that can be crammed into it -preferably caloric and visibly unhealthy. Freakshakes apparently escaped from the Patissez Café in Canberra, Australia and eluded detection at the border. They now stalk fast food outlets like dietary Ebolas.
In Britain, ‘The campaign group Action on Sugar [which is made up of specialists concerned with sugar and its effects on health] is demanding a ban on freakshakes and all milkshakes with more than 300 calories. It surveyed milkshakes sold in restaurants and fast food shops in the UK and found they contained “grotesque levels of sugar and calories”. Freakshakes are milkshakes that also contain chocolates, sweets, cake, cream and sauce. The Toby Carvery Unicorn Freakshake [made with grape and raspberry flavoured ice cream, blackcurrant jelly pieces, milk, freshly whipped cream and topped with marshmallow, skittles and almond macaroon] came top of the survey with 39 teaspoons of sugar or 1,280 calories. That is more than half the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult and over six times the amount of sugar recommended for seven to 10-year-olds.’
Uhmm, I don’t know about you, but I find that not merely excessive, but grotesquely peacockesque, if you’ll pardon the speciesism. An article in the Guardian on the same theme https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/aug/31/freakshakes-monstrous-mashup-drink-dessert-taking-over-britain took a slightly different tack, noting that ‘“The freakshake trend has been a clear example of the influence of social media,” says Olivia Edwards, senior analyst at food trends agency thefoodpeople [food and beverage trend spotters]. She says Instagram “gave them a platform to be seen and desired all around the world … the first thing most people will do is pop a pic on Instagram”. This is true at Blue Dogs Kitchen in Cheltenham, says cafe supervisor Marion Corden. Freakshakes went on sale there a couple of months ago and, she says, “it’s very rare that we make one that is not photographed”. It was social media that brought freakshakes to the attention of Maria Michaelides when she opened Molly Bakes cafe in Dalston, east London. “I saw them on Instagram last summer,” she says.’
‘Vedia Glover, of Lilli Oliver Cake Boutique in Manchester, was already making “freakcakes”, so the “big and bold indulgent style” of the shakes appealed to her. She has put a new spin on them, too: “A few customers requested the shake with a coffee, so I developed the ‘freakaccino’ – we add a shot of espresso. This is really popular with peanut butter added to it.”’
Peanut butter? Hold on here -it seems to me that a line has been crossed. The next thing you know I’ll see a picture of somebody adding a bagel to the melange. Or half a can of beans… That would be trolling, wouldn’t it? I mean, how would they hear about me anyway?