I've been in the U.S. for nearly a week now. So far my trip has been pretty mellow. I'm trying to avoid my usual pattern of weight gain on this trip. Although I have indulged a bit (an In-N-Out burger for lunch today, for example), I've also been going to the gym. Last Sunday, my brother and I went to Souplantation for lunch, whose salads and muffins I actually like a lot. Other customers had plates with small mountains of salad. No wonder Americans are fat.
Later that day, I went on a tour of L.A. Harbor with my family. Practically everyone at the San Pedro Ports O' Call was overweight. Lots of women with big hair, heavy eyeliner, and stuffed into tube tops and low-rise capris like plump sausages. They were all noshing on huge platters of shrimp, fish, and buttered bread the size of a halved 2 liter bottle of soda.
"The level of material comfort in this country is numbing," said Paul Bellew, executive director for market and industry analysis at General Motors, in a fascinating series of New York Times articles on class in America. That was incredibly obvious in the trip to L.A. Harbor.
As I make my way around L.A. this week, I am continually reminded of the wealth that people enjoy here. Sections of town I remember as shabby and empty growing up are now filled with strip malls and new housing developments. Streets are paved and tree-lined. Yards are, for the most part, well manicured. Circulars in the Sunday paper advertise outdoor patio furniture sets and decked out gas grills with a 24-burger capacity. There are Starbucks gamut, and fresh gourmet produce and foods readily available.
I guess when you no longer have to worry about food, survival—making sure your kids are fed, clothed, educated, perhaps even just surviving war—you can worry about germs at the gym, and good carbs versus bad carbs.