We just came home to Bordeaux after spending a month in the States. This was my first trip back since moving last September. I hadn't thought I'd been missing much in the way of food except a good steak. The beef in France leaves something to be desired, and a couple of steaks was the only thing I planned to eat. But being constantly confronted by things we couldn't find here, well, something came over me. By the time we left I was having a hard time putting my pants on and when I worked up the nerve to stand on a scale on Friday, I'd gained 15 pounds. I haven't weighed this much in a long time and what surprised me was not how much I'd gained but how easy it was. So if you've ever wanted to gain a lot of weight in a hurry, with little effort, here's how I did it (your results might vary).
1. Be born in a country known for conspicuous consumption, a sedentary lifestyle, huge portions and currently experiencing an obesity epidemic.
This ensures the proper mindset and cultural factors necessary for rapid weight gain without trying or even thinking about it. The United States maintains ideal conditions almost everywhere and many restaurants go you one better by offering "all-you-can-eat" - unlimited piles of, high fat, low quality meats and sides at almost irresistible prices.
2. Move somewhere far away.
I think France was an especially good choice for this step. It's well known that everything is cooked in butter and people come here from all over the world to learn to cook, yet overeating and obesity is rare. Only after American style fast food came here did being overweight become an issue. Gerard Depardieu, however, probably would have ended up big anyway.
3. After living in Country 2 for over a year, make a visit lasting at least a month to Country 1.
Even if, like me, you didn't have a weight problem when you left, a year in Country 2 gives you plenty of time to acclimate to a new, less fattening cuisine and a month in Country 1 is sufficient time for the contrast to the old high fructose corn syrup laden diet to work its magic. I'm not sure how this works but it sure did for me.
4. Spend entire time in Country 1 visiting regions known for particularly high calorie foods.
|Typical Texas barbecue plate|
Lafayette is the capital of Cajun country and there nothing "light" on a Cajun menu. Crawfish is ordered by the pound and the local sandwich, called a po'boy, is made with a whole loaf of bread and something fried.
|Fried Oyster Po'Boy|
Every article written about Pittsburgh by people from somewhere else never fails to mention the availability of pastrami, coleslaw and fries fashioned into one huge sandwich. (Ironically, when I left Pittsburgh for good in 1979, the original Primanti's, home of the sandwich, was somewhere most people wouldn't have eaten on a bet.)
|Steeler fan with Primanti Sandwich|
5. Stay with your family in Country 1 during a season conducive to spending a lot of time indoors.
Most people will require no explanation of this step but for those who do, the old saying about fish and guests smelling after 3 days goes double with family. Going in winter ensures maximum exposure to each other. Even if you were raised by the Cleavers, staying with relatives for any extended period almost certainly gives everyone involved the urge to drink, thereby augmenting your diet with a goodly supply of hard to metabolize sugars. You'll score bonus for a family that hates to cook and likes Mexican food.
6. Watch plenty of television.
I haven't watched television on a regular basis in over 20 years so I'm never prepared for the latest in what passes for entertainment in America and, observations like, "Jesus, how can you stand this fucking shit" are seldom appreciated. So you watch what they do and, judging by my nephew and sisters' choices, most American TV boils down to reality programs about douchebags doing shit. My nephew favors the sub-genres of douchebags buying and selling shit. One show features people dull witted enough to think the best place to get top dollar for their family heirlooms is a Las Vegas pawn shop run by pricks. Another, called American Pickers (that I hoped would be bluegrass music), involves a couple of guys driving around bilking people on stuff they don't know the value of and/or are desperate for cash. (I was, however, spared the filthy rich, Louisiana redneck duck call makers that are, in any case, impossible to escape completely.) This is so mind numbing that I found myself not only packing away snacks by the bagful but frequently suggesting we shut off the TV and go and get something to eat. By the way, this step also helps maintain the urge to drink.
7. Convince yourself you'll never have any of this food again.
This, I think, was the crux of it for me. Most of the stuff I wolfed down has never been that big a deal to me. And, as I mentioned, the only thing I missed was a good steak, but rationalized the gluttony by telling myself that, once we went back to France, it might be a long time before I'd see this again so I better get it while I can. Before you knew it, clothes fit like me like someone I once knew whose jeans were so tight she had to lay back on a bed, take a deep breath and pull up the zipper with a pair of pliers.
So there you have it, how I effortlessly gained a shitload of weight in just one month. As previously stated, your results could vary. And don't look for my follow-up, "How I lost 15 Pounds" anytime soon.