Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

How I love you carbs... let me count the ways

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Bread and pasta are — along with a few other carb-laden  delights — the  key ingredients for a happy life. Just ask the author of this story... when he wakes from his carb-fuelled nap.

MARC GENCE / EDMONTON JOURNAL Enlarge Image

Bread and pasta are — along with a few other carb-laden delights — the key ingredients for a happy life. Just ask the author of this story... when he wakes from his carb-fuelled nap.

Oh, carbohydrates.

I don't understand why every time I pick up a new fad diet book, it tells me how you're bad for me. That I should give you up. Cold turkey, just not on a sandwich.

Don't they know? Don't they understand you like I do? You get me. Why can't there be some anti-Atkins out there that condemns the intake of even one stinking floret of cauliflower? I'd buy that book in a heartbeat. Cauliflower doesn't understand. Not even close.

There is nothing -- nothing -- I want for dinner more than a huge bowl of pasta. What goes on top of it? I don't care. Tomato sauce, sure. Olive oil and garlic, OK. Some butter and cheese, fine. It's not what's on top that counts. It's the huge tangle of carbohydrates underneath. Egg and flour, mixed and rolled with the experience of centuries and cultures, set to a perfect al dente by boiling water.

I've never officially run the numbers, but I estimate there are about a billion grams of carbohydrates in my preferred serving size of pasta. I love them that much. You know what carbohydrates are? Energy! Sure, they make you sleepy, but that's just because eating carbs is like a getting a great big hug before bedtime. It's soothing. The energy is stored. That's the key. When you wake up, it's there for you. Possibly in the form of, uh, well, love handles -- but what's important is that it's there to use when you want to do something strenuous. Like making homemade pasta.

It's a theory, anyway. I'm not actually a scientist.

The great thing about carbs is they are everywhere. You can get them in, say, an apple or something, but only in responsible amounts. Wouldn't you rather have a glass of wine? Or twooooo?

Carbohydrates love everyone. There are more than seven billion people on the planet, and you know how many people live in places where rice is a key part of their diet? Roughly seven billion. And if there is some sad, dark corner of the world -- probably Siberia -- that doesn't specifically rely on rice, I bet they have a Chinese place that'll deliver it. Anytime they want.

And I bet they have bread. I bet they have a lot of bread. It's the staff of life, whatever that means. You know where they bake bread? On a hearth. A hearth. You can't spell hearth without h-e-a-r-t. It's practically just a loaf of valentines waiting to be buttered up.

Civilizations have been judged on their ways with bread. I mean, I don't know about historically, but by me, certainly. Baguette. Bagel. Foccacia. Tortilla. Pita. Lavash. Paska. Which one of those is bad? None of them! There has to be something innately good about any culture that makes good bread. And bread is innately good.

Then there is the humble potato. Ireland loved potatoes so much that a million people died when the crop failed. But what's the first food you think of when you think of Ireland? Ireland couldn't quit carbs even when carbs quit Ireland.

If someone told me I could lose 100 pounds by cutting out sugar, I'd listen. Meat? It could happen. Cauliflower? I'd know they were lying, because I gave that up a long time ago. And I would still listen.

But don't worry, carbs, I'm never giving up on you. You're the biggest part of me.

Literally.

-- The Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2014 D3

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