Know someone who doesn't eat vegetables? Yeah, it's a thing. "I'm a meat and potatoes man!" But Asher Black suspects it's being scared of oysters, afraid of eggplant, aquiver at sushi, and creeped out by hummus. WTF is hummus?
Welcome to another episode of Manhearted. The show about being a man I'm Asher black, your host powered by spunk. And once again, we'll aim to get to the heart of it, manhood people all the time asked
Me what the show's about. You know, what the heck is man hearted. Anyway, man hearted, it's really a show of cultural criticism. I remember back in the days of public intellectuals, that this was more common. The idea that we do cultural criticism instead of just sort of take sides and sit on opposite sides of the island, sling mud at each other, everyone wasn't also just handing out advice as a loss leader for their personal coaching practice, which the internet is made possible and unfortunately, incredibly prevalent, but they were weighing instead culture and its meaning. And if you remember, you know, people like Noam Chomsky and way before him, you know, Upton Sinclair there, lots of these guys that were talking to us about culture and its meaning, and that's no different than what we're doing at man hearted. We're just plugged into a particular aspect of the culture that I think is one of the linchpins of how we think what we expect and the lives that we build for ourselves around the three questions that I mentioned in the last episode, who am I, what is my relationship to the world?
And what do I do now? Or what do I do about it? Those are the three questions of the ancient quests, the three universal questions that all human beings, if they don't ponder, at least in some regard they pursue. And you can see that even in people that aren't particularly thoughtful as they confuse things like manhood, for instance, with their identity and a particular definition of manhood. And so on, they're still trying to answer the question, who am I, what is, what is my identity? And we are addressing those questions from a completely different perspective. And one that I would argue is older and far more traditional and far more tolerant and open and, and interesting than some of the canned answers that we're getting today. So man hearted, as a show of cultural criticism, there's really not much more to it than that.
We're talking about all kinds of different things. And for instance, today, we're talking about fear of food. I know strange topic, right? And for those of you who aren't interested in exotic foods or have, you know, we all have levels of exotic. You know, some of you have eaten, you know, poisonous puffer fish, and other people live animals. I'm not doing that. Sorry. We all have limits, et cetera. But tonight my dinner included among a number of items I got from the Indian restaurant through delivery through seamless of course was baby kale, pakora. If you know Indian food, you know what a Procore is, it's basically a deep fried appetizer. It's delicious. It's better than potato chips. But if you, if you're not into Indian food, you you're going, what the hell is that I understand. Let's just say that somebody took kale and fried it in so much stuff that you, you think you're eating a pretzel.
It's delicious. What can I tell you? And if you can deep fry, a Snickers bar or a banana at the county fair, you can eat deep fried kale and it can be lovely now. And I know, I know it sounds all whisky, right? Baby kale did eat your baby kale. We're going to get into that. So the topic, the core topic I want to address last is fear of food. And you see this, I don't know, have you seen this people afraid of not just one or two things, but a number of things I've seen this in the Midwest where people are afraid of vegetables. Can't tell you how many, mostly men, but how many people have told me, I don't eat vegetables. I'm a meat potatoes kind of guy. You get that cliche right there, kind of makes it okay. Nobody says I'm a, I'm terrified of vegetables.
You put something green on my plate, I'll have a little tantrum. I'll break down emotionally, but instead, you know, and potatoes kind of guy. And so it becomes a, you know, the thing you're scared to death of becomes a badge of your, your manhood. That's part of what I mean by cultural criticism. Is that really manly? Is that man hearted at all, if you're, you're afraid of some brands granted the starchy vegetables though, you know, are green beans and corn. Yeah. The vegetables that have the most fat in them, the vegetables that, I mean, corn, if you grind it up, you can make just about everything that's bad for you and causes you to be, you know to be a little bit chubby, right? Like giant family size bags of Cheetos. And what is it? Corn, of course it's corn. So, you know, if you rule out the superstar T vegetables, which are just fat in another and another disguise, a lot of people are afraid of them.
They won't eat them. And it's kind of fanatical, right? Like when I was growing up, I was in this boarding school, the country guys that would ask me the strange, just things, you know, like I have one guy one time later on, this is later on in life as an adult, he asked me if I was wearing and a belt and I'm like, why, you know, first, why are you focused on me? Why is this what our conversation has come to? It's not how about that next? But are you wearing a belt is like, well, if you have belt loops, you should wear a belt. If you don't have belt, that's a whole different story. You'd probably have belt loops. But if you have Belushi where I'm like, God, this parochial obsession with conformity aside, you know, why are you focused on this?
So I had a guy asked me when I was a kid and this is not my weird thing. I've seen this all over the country in various communities, lots of just random people that don't know each other. And it's not me bringing it to, I've heard them talk about this to other people heard other, yeah. People tell me about it, but maybe your experience is different. You know, everybody grows up differently with a set of experiences and sees different things. I lived in 23 cities before I was 18. I got somewhat of a breadth of experience, but I know I seen everything. So this guy, he says you know, if you're finished with your dinner and you're still hungry, would you rather have seconds of the meat and potatoes? Or would you rather have dessert? I said, well, what's for dessert. He says, it doesn't matter.
And him saying, well, we'll make something up, but he's like good blueberry pie. And I was like, oh, I'd rather have the blueberry pie. It's like, oh yeah, you're not manly. And why? Because a real man would watch seconds of the meat and potatoes. Cause we're mad. And this is what we do. We work, we eat our meat and you know, the, the, the pie is optional. It's only if there's no meat and potatoes left, then you eat dessert. God who makes these rules, you terrified not just the food, but that somebody might be doing it wrong. And you got limits. I remember, I remember that the first time I went to the deep south, I mean, we're talking about the Willie swamp kind of deep south. I got no problem with the deep south per se, Hey, what it's become is kind of a monstrosity these days.
But you know, one could argue it was always a monstrosity. Okay. You know, but when I'm talking about is not, everything is bad, right? So I mean, there's music that comes out of the south that I think is fine. Scanner free Burton. Now I don't mean that, but sweet home, Alabama. Anyway, the point is that I've what was I going to say now? I've lost, lost my train of thought. That's what happens? You lose your train of thought as you get older. And then you've got to suffer through a podcast with another older guy, because you're probably about my age. If you listened to the show. All right. So what the story was I going to tell? Oh, sweetie. I mean, yeah, yeah. From the south, you know what that is. If you have never heard of sweet tea and you're going, like, what the is that you've not even been to the south, not, you may have driven through, you may have flown over, but that's not the same thing.
Sweet teas, a thing. And we're talking sun tea, sweet tea, you got to make your own tea. You know, and it's too much work at the gallons of sun tea. People drink, it's insane, the amount they put away. And so the only way to do it is get these giant jars, you know, 20 times the size of a Mason jar, make it outside, put it out in the sun. It's it's risky. But you know, the attitude is like, screw the microbes. If I die, I die. I got to have sweet tea. I had a friend that owned a gas station in Oklahoma. You know, he said, he says, most gas stations, their money off of, you know, in town. They make their money off of beer and cigarettes. And that's understandable. I mean, Y if you're hanging out at a gas station for other reasons, you're that creepy guy.
That's standing too near the bathroom going I'll hold the door open for me. You know, be careful. Watch that guy watch out. Especially if the, if it's around back and you have to get a key, who's touched that key. I wonder, see, I'm squeamish about some things, but, but his rural gas station made most of its money off of sweet tea. They couldn't keep the stuff in stock. They'd have these trucks come up and that's all their hauling. They would just Iowa. It would just fill an entire aisle with sweet tea. They had called at, at warm. And he would just sell out of it like crazy. They could add trouble, keep it in stock. Sweet teas up a thing, man. I remember when I first went to the, I was talking about the Willie swamp when we first went to the south, not the literal Willie swamp, not the one of the Charlie Daniels song, which is excellent.
If you haven't heard it, there's things that walk and there's things that Crow, things creep them out in the night. No, something like that. You got to hear that. So anyway it's almost as good as uneasy writer, which I like a little bit better. So it, don't not Charlie Daniels T you heard his full repertoire, by the way, you might not like hillbilly music might think you don't, but until you've had some sweet tea and a piece of apple pie, I'm kidding about the sweet tea. That stuff will kill you until you've had some, some apple pie. And you've been sitting there and listening to a guy, play out one of those songs in a banjo on your porch, in the heat of summer as the Wipper wills go. And, and you know, the cicadas make their, add their concert noise to it.
You don't know, you don't know. So anyway, Genesee, I guess I'm open to the south. They got room for it in my life portions of it. My, I got relatives that were farmers in the south. And this is part of what me off is, is people don't eat like that anymore. You know, if they did, they'd be healthy as those great-grandparents were back to the sweet tea thing. I guy, when I first went to the south and he's like, look your people, you know, from the north, I, it doesn't take much to be north north of there, north of bar that's north. If you people from the north, you drink here, your coffee cold and your tea hot. I was like, all right, you didn't have a finish for that sentence, basically. Yeah. The end of that sentence was that ain't right. That's wrong.
I remember saying that in a coffee shop, one time, I just belt it out. Some guy was going on and moaning about people that weren't from there. And I said, if it's different, it's wrong. And he said, right. I'm like, there you go. That's the belief. So yeah, I mean, afraid of doing it wrong, mixed with this food thing, food is a cultural icon. It's like when you go into a church and one church has got statues and belts and smells and incense and robes and crosses and holy water and the other church, Tory, I mean, they got none of that stuff and you would not get away with bringing that stuff in there. These things are there, cultural icons they're important, right? Food. Let me go back to this issue of farm food, by the way, and how the diet has changed, not just in the south, but really across the country.
I mean, it's different, right? New York city, Brooklyn is going to be different than Springdale, Arkansas, you know, just face it it's that way. But even in Springdale, Arkansas, you know, my, my relatives were farmers in the early days. And when they served a meal, I mean, it was Southern style. You know, they would cook and there'd be four kinds of beans and three kinds of melons. And there'd be both roasts and him, or maybe Turkey and roaster. It'd be a couple of kinds of meat and there'd be roles. In addition to other kinds of bread, there'd be two or three kinds of pie. Like, you know, a sweet potato pie, a buttermilk pie, a blueberry pie, and just every kind of produce and, and vegetable that, I mean, I tried wax beans, put it this way. I once had black IPS and purple whole peas, which are just purple, black IPS.
They were in different dishes next to each other. You had your choice. You want black IPS or purple. Hopefully is a milling. I don't know how are they different? They're the same. It was like, all right, well mix them. I don't care. They'd lay out a spread. And then you didn't need an invitation. The way it was in the old days of the south, people would come over. They would come up. Your family would come on. Oh, look, it's cousin Jimmy. And his four kids, they just roll up. They knew there was going to be food. You knew that you had enough to feed them and nobody needed an appointment. You didn't know if you were going to see them again for three or four months. But I mean, eventually you would, anybody could just about roll up. But if a neighbor stopped by you fixed them a place, it's sit down and eat.
You know, you couldn't get out of there without having something. At least even like, oh, I'm, I've had all I can stand. The Mrs. Fed me is like, here, you gotta have some pie. You gotta try her pie. He has some pecan pecan pie has some fresh pecan pie or some Walnut ice cream made with the walnuts from our own trees. I mean, this stuff was, it was an amazing way to eat and you could eat as little or as much as you want, but what people did was they ate a meal and then they fell asleep. They napped because you know, you do that on Sunday or whatever, Sunday afternoon, you've been working the other six days. And then you wake up and you graze. And that was of your dinner. You know, you might shove some bacon into some leftover rolls and have yourself, some black eyed peas and some ham.
And then maybe another piece become pie and go back to bed for the night, you know, listen to the Wipper Wells and the cicadas. And he got up and he worked your off. And what's funny is the farmers were mostly kind of slim. They weren't Tebow's, but things changed. You know, I remember the next generation after my great-grandparents my grandparents, they were all into that Betty crocker Pillsbury that they sold us. That ration of, that wonder bread's better than mom's bread, baby formulas, better than, and breast milk, all the crap, the corporations shoved them. Yeah. On our throats that changed the diet. And of course, from there, it just got worse, you know, TV dinners, you know, featuring them, you know, terrible sugar cereals that, you know, wow. With 11 and essential nutrients and vitamins as part of a healthy and balanced breakfast.
I never saw anybody eat it as part of a breakfast. I said, let me half a box of cereal as their breakfast. So the diet changed. And unfortunately, you know, it's havoc on us. We have a, an obesity epidemic. I mean, all you gotta do is fly to a place where the primary restaurant is, you know, Chili's Applebee's and TGI Fridays. And the people there might be making fun of, you know, hot tea and avocado toast. But geez, you know skipping a meal once a week, while maybe running down the street, instead of driving in your SUV from one parking lot to the parking lot at night store, and maybe eating something with a little bit less. So Austin MSG in it that, you know, would be a good idea. You know, it always brings up ranch. When I was in the Midwest, I saw these guys, I delivered pizza there as a kid, and I used to take it to the dorms and the frat boys would be like, you know, be sure, yeah, put extra ranch in their ranch.
I hear people just yelling at, across the Denny's ranch. Denny's right. Ranch. And it's just milk and MSG. That's all it is. I mean, ranch dressing was invented as an MSG delivery vehicle and MSG was invented to cover the taste of spoiled rotten food. And so what do you put it on mediocre food that isn't healthy? You know, it's got a little sugar, a little MSG in it and a little bit of fat from the milk. And it creates this flavor sensation. That's an an excitotoxin that tells your brain that, you know, the food is good. Even if it's been sitting out in the sun in a dirty diaper for an hour. Yeah. Image you don't want, but that's how bad some of that food is as far as I'm concerned. So the food's really changed, right? People now waddle in and out of the cracker barrel, they got those commercials.
I've seen them on TV, the commercials everybody's thin and lie. Then he, and you know, they're eating three servings of vegetables and one little portion of it. That's not how people have you been to a cracker barrel. That is not how people eat. And it's certainly not what they look like in there. And I don't just mean their models versus not models. I mean, these tall slender people. It's like if there's some tribes somewhere where those people live on earth, flying around in their space, capsules, you know, launched out of George shores is compound in the Arctic. Those people aren't eating at Applebee's, but they don't exist. Mostly. They're just figments of commercial makers imagination. Anyway, the point is this fear of food thing. People are afraid of healthy food. And that's the thing is if you're culturally, if you're culturally pre-programmed or if of your cultural identity, part of who you are saying, you're not a man X or you you're, you're a man, if you do eat Y but not Z, if it's that deep that you associate it with your manhood, then you got to admit, there was an incredibly strong cultural bias there, and culture plays an enormous role in people's health choices.
And essentially what people end up looking like and how fast they die. I mean, I can't tell you how many friends I've had that. I met him and see him three years later, and they're there twice the way they were there. They're not going to live to be 55. That just isn't going to happen. They're well past diabetes and other issues related to destroying their joints and things like that. The writing and the special carts around the Walmart, these guys they're bound for the coffin sooner than they have to be. And it's sad to think that a lot of that is culture and some of it is even fear. You know, I don't know what that stuff is. I would need it. I can't tell you how many people I've described God, Indian food, Greek food, Lebanese food, and like, oh, you know, that's, I couldn't imagine that sounds gross.
I would never try that. I won't even try it. You got to break out a colleague of mine as a chef. And he went to New Mexico to see his friends and they wanted to go, I don't know. It was like, not Applebee's, but it's one of those places, right? The big box stores for food where everything's got MSG sauce. And, and he was saying, know, they, they make fresh Molay around the corner and a person who's been living there for years. Like what's Molly. He's like, look, there's this little old ladies making handmade tortillas, just down the street. Why on earth would we go to some corporate chain with ferns...