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October 8, 2009

Have Cholesterol, Have Offers (by Margaret Ullrich)

About my cholesterol diet... Well, I tried. List in hand, I called two restaurants.

The problem is the chef doesn't answer the phone. Oh, no. When you call you always get some kid who could drink four litres of palm oil with his poutine and not even burp. As far as that font of information is concerned, the entree could be deep fried in axle grease. And he's not about to bother the chef, who's having a hard day, Lady... and, like, you know... he says he's gonna quit if I bother him, like, you know... Yeah, I know.

Then, I noticed a strange thing happening. When I thought I'd called a restaurant, it turned out to be a gas station or a dry cleaner. Or so they said. There must be a list, like there is for stolen credit cards. Now that there's call display, it's pretty easy to avoid playing 20 questions with the salad lady. I wasn't about to resort to pay phones, like Tony Soprano did when he arranged a hit. I'm Maltese. We look a lot like Sicilians. It could seem... suspicious... if I went from one pay phone to another calling restaurants. Especially if one of them burned down.

For some restaurants the ingredients are a matter of national pride. You don't mess with that. For example, ghee (clarified butter for those who never asked) has been a standard ingredient in Indian food for hundreds, no, maybe, thousands of years. Just try asking them to baste your serving of tandoori chicken with safflower oil.

The American Heart Association also advises people to read labels. I'm doing more reading now than I did in college. Why don't people in the food industry just simplify things? A heart with a red slash across it would be a lot simpler than all those percentages and decimals.

When, despite diet and exercise, my cholesterol rose higher than my investments, the doctor prescribed one of the statins. It's meant to control my liver, which is working overtime making cholesterol because it thinks I'm desperate for white wax. Maybe in a previous life it belonged to a candle maker. Who knows?

The pharmacist said that, since the statins affect the liver, I should avoid alcohol and grapefruit juice. The alcohol I understand. Why grapefruit and not orange or lemon juice is just one of the mysteries of life.

The alcohol restriction really boosted my popularity at my husband's office party. Each guest was given two tickets for free drinks and I'm not referring to grapefruit juice. What was I to do with those two tickets? When word of my problem spread, I was surrounded by young men who presumably weren't on statins. I'll bet Cosmo never suggested taking a statin as a great way to meet young men. You'd be surprised at what a guy will offer to do for a free drink and I'm not referring to grapefruit juice.

Like I said, being on a diet hasn't interfered with my social life.

Have a great weekend. How can you miss - you're in Winnipeg!

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