A week ago I was eating kale salads. Daily. I was fondling beets in the produce aisle. I was on a first-name basis with every member of the Cruciferae family–broccolli, cauliflower, bok choy…you name it. Hell, I even like brussel sprouts. I say all this not in an attempt to establish street cred with the vegan crowd, but to make this fact plain: I've been trying to live right, health-food, 12-stepping my way towards some kind of shape…right up until the moment I strapped my bike to the back of the car and started road tripping again.
BAKEN-ETS CHICHARRONES | $2 | ANY GAS STATION ON EARTH
Let me tell you, when you are 13 hours deep into a drive and you stumble into the gas station at two in the morning, bleary eyed and gacked to the gills on two Red Bulls and four cans of Starbucks Double Shot Espresso…you have a tendency to forget all about kale. At times like that, you find yourself reaching for a bag of evil. You get the chicharrones.
THE NEW WHITE MEAT
I raised a pig once. Or at least, I watched a friend raise a pig and that was good enough for me. I mean, once you've actually spent five minutes with a pig, you're pretty much cured of the notion that owning a pig could ever be a good idea.
Pigs eat anything and they eat a lot of it. When they are not lying in their own fecal matter, they are eating large bits of it. There's a reason we don't hold pigs in the highest esteem. I realize our porcine friends are some of the smartest creatures on earth, that they can solve difficult algebraic equations, and are capable of building cold fusion-powered slurpee machines, and the like, but seriously…once you've seen them plunge their snout into a pile of dung, you kind of lose respect for the entire species. You certainly don't ever want to eat one again. I sure didn't. At least until the next Sunday morning rolled around and I smelled bacon again.
But you can kind of make an exception for bacon, right? If bacon were truly bad for you, would God have made it taste so good? It's hard to argue with the bible, right? I mean, there's a reason we don't teach evolution in our public schools. And besides, bacon is on the inside of the pig. So, it's kind of clean. Sorta. Or, at the very least, cleaner than the outside of the pig.
Who would eat the outside of a pig? I sure as hell wouldn't. Unless, of course, you deep fried it first and then sprinkled it all with a top-secret blend of MSG, Torula Yeast, Dextrose, Red 40, Yellow 6, Blue 1 and, yep, some more MSG. Once you do that to a batch of hog skin, I'm pretty much forced to open my wallet wide and buy a couple bags of the stuff.
I'm not saying this makes sense, I'm just saying that these things happen on road trips.
IT'S DEMOCRACY IN ACTION.
CRUNCHY, PORK-FLAVORED DEMOCRACY
Pork rinds, however, are more than mysteriously delicious, they're also a cost-effective means of meeting your two-in-the-morning, bloodshot-eyed, numb-in-the-face nutritional needs. Or to put a finer point, they always sell for two bucks. It's printed right there on the outside of the bag. In a world of $5 lattes, the importance of this cannot be oversold.
It's almost as if the kind people at Frito Lay understand that times are tough, the gap between rich and poor is widening, that Greece is fuckin' up the whole European Union thing…again. But despite all the economic turmoil out there, if you've got two bucks to your name, there's a bag of deep fried pork skin out there with your name on it. What's more, a bag of pork rinds at a liquor store in the Bronx costs precisely as much as a bag of pork rinds at a gas station in Aspen. That's democracy in action!
Oh, and there are no carbs. That's important. Right?
God, I’d kill for a kale smoothie, right now. I wonder if this next gas station will have a six-pack of the stuff….