I can't tell you how weird I found this post on the Times' Well blog. First of all, I can't bear the title "Well" and think the column and the blog should be renamed immediately. Maybe something like "Good News/Bad News" or "Nagging Fears that You've Ruined Your Body Forever Turn Out to be Only Half True." Catchy, right? But, seriously, in the post, Pollan asks readers for advice garnered from traditional eating habits. By "traditional" he seems to mean 'the little nuggets of golden truth your immigrant grandparents fed you.'
But, get this, he doesn't exactly want to hear about how they taught you to eat. He wants to hear about how they taught you not to eat. For example, Pollan writes: "My own Russian-Jewish grandfather used to say at the end of every meal, “I always like to leave the table a little bit hungry.”" You know what my (Galician-Jewish) great-grandfather liked to say to my mother who then liked to say the same thing to me about food? "When you're hungry you'll eat anything." I don't really think this particular immigrant nugget is what Pollan is after. But it's not just these half-sour but what-the-heck-I'm-hungry grapes that make me think his request itself is odd. What's Pollan going to do with the maxims he's fishing for? Is the man who once grew poppy plants going to write a diet book? Not that there's anything wrong with that. Of course, if he does write that book, I suspect his will be the most food-correct and ethnically-diverse diet book ever.
You know what else I bet? I bet the book he writes, let's call it Michael Pollan Tells You How to Eat: A Food Lover's Guide to Slow Food, Healthy Living, and a Better Planet sells a million copies (which would be great) while its far-flung maxims, recipes and invocations will make you look back at that wedding sequence in Rachel Getting Married as a WASP-y sham of multi-culti inclusivity. Seriously, cue up the Ry Cooder because it's going to be a rollicking good time.