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Jim Mullen column: Live and let diet

I’ve started seeing cookbooks and magazines with recipes for something called the paleo diet. I had to ask my friend Charlie, who’s been on every diet on Earth, what it was.


“Basically, it means that if you eat only the kind of food the cavemen ate, it’s good for you. Like meat over an open flame, berries and roots. That’s why so many men say grilling on the barbecue takes them back to their caveman roots.”

“How many cavemen used propane? Or stainless steel tongs? Or drank craft beer? Grilling a steak 50,000 years ago must have been a pretty dismal experience. No wooden deck, no Adirondack chairs, no citronella torches, no ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ aprons, no portable CD players, no outdoor speakers, no ironic swag of jalapeno party lights, no bug zappers. All they had was a dark, smelly cave.”

“Plenty of guys still live in dark, smelly caves,” said Charlie. “They’re called bloggers.”

“And are those the guys who are eating the paleo diet?”

“Are you kidding? They’re eating delivery pizza and cheesy nachos, which would be the opposite of a diet. It’s very thin women who are eating the paleo diet.”

“That makes sense,” I said. “Because who needs it more? Besides, real men wouldn’t like eating like a caveman. No guy wants to eat ‘catch of the day’ every day, especially if they had to catch it themselves. And isn’t catching your food one of the things that burns calories? Buying red meat at the grocery store is not the same as going out and stalking your prey for miles and miles, butchering it with a dull rock and then carrying it back to the cave.”

“And what if you were no good at catching your food?” Charlie asked. “What are you going to eat? Leftover meat you had to steal from a pack of hyenas? And remember, then you had to cook it. This was years before Edison invented lighter fluid. Cavemen probably spent their entire, very short lives wondering when someone was going to invent the match. Didn’t your average caveman have a life expectancy of 24 years? Maybe if they ate nachos they’d have lived longer.”

Does Charlie really think Edison invented lighter fluid? What are they teaching kids in our schools today? Besides, it probably wasn’t the paleo diet that killed them off so young, it was the paleo potluck dinners that did it.

“I hear there’s a new thing over at the Hendersons’ cave,” said Mr. Caveman. “It’s called a spice rub. They take a spearful of woolly mammoth and rub this powder on it, a mix of secret herbs and spices, and leave it on for a few hours and then grill it. Sounds pretty good, huh? Let’s go over there tonight and club them.”

“Nah,” says Mrs. Caveman. “If we club them, then they’ll owe us a clubbing. Besides, I don’t like the way she raises her children. She lets them get away with murder. They run around drawing pictures on the cave walls all day long. She says they’ve evolved, but if you ask me, they act like a bunch of Neanderthals. And he sheds. The last time they were here, I was picking his hair out of the rocks for weeks. I won’t let them in my cave. I’m cooking something special tonight anyway. We’re going on this new thing called the Saber-tooth Tiger Diet. You can eat as much saber-tooth tiger as you can catch. People have lost hundreds of pounds on it.”

“Yes, but how long did they live?”

“Hmmmm. Funny, I’ve never heard of anyone coming back from their tiger-hunt to say.”

Contact Jim Mullen at JimMullenBooks.com.

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