Dipped cone is a marvel to behold

My life is spent along a serpentine curve connecting two points. At one end is my home, at the other, a hospital. I drive to work in style! My radio is tuned to the “Bob and Tom Show” for laughs, then to PBS for facts, then to Hilary Hahn playing the violin, for pure delight. I drive along scenic routes, besides Teal Lake, and as the sun rises over L’Anse Bay, I drive through sleepy, picturesque Chassell, and across a lift-bridge over the Keweenaw waterway. Along the way to work, I have seen a wandering deer, a lonely duck, and a group of Kamikaze geese who always seem to be crossing the road at the exact same time I am about to hit them. I slam the brakes and let them pass. And I continue to drive.

In the winters, my serpentine path to work is white, and gray, and dark. A cloud of snow engulfs my car and follows me wherever I drive. The curves on my path turn more abrupt. Slippery roads. Black, ominous ice. Blowing, turbulent wind. Freezing cold. The snow squeaks under my tires as if it submits, but I know that winter never surrenders, not on this side of God’s land. Here, winter is a dangerous beauty that can whisper death. I turn my radio off. And I keep driving, intent on the road.

I remember other times when my road to work was not at all rural and not as long. Back then, I drove to work surrounded by a metropolis: concrete, steel and glass, shopping malls, and a lot, a lot of outlets selling fast food!

Recently, I have been reflecting on the landscapes I live in, the roads I take to work, and the places I work in. It is because of a recent article I read in the British Medical Journal. The article is about only one aspect of the relationship between the landscapes we occupy and our life: “What is,” the researchers from the University of Cambridge, UK asked, “the association between exposure to takeaway food outlets (British for fast food restaurants) and body weight?”

The researchers studied 5,442 working adults who provided their home and work addresses and their preferred commuting routes. They examined the exposure to fast-food outlets close to home, around the workplace, and along the commuting route. They then collected data on the consumption of pizza, burgers, fried food, and chips (British for french fries).

They found that the higher the exposure to fast-food was, the more fast-food was consumed. They found that the strongest association between fast-food exposure and consumption was at the workplace.

They found that the combined exposure (at home, at work, and along the commuting route) was associated with increased body mass index and with greater odds of being obese. They found the same results in men and women.

The other day, after a long day at work, and still within the boundaries of my home-commute-workplace environment, I was taking my daily walk. As I was walking, I wondered to what degree our behavior is shaped by the landscapes, whether natural or man-made, we live in.

Could it really be that the availability of a fast-food outlet in our vicinity plays a greater role in our decision on what to eat for dinner than our knowledge of the food pyramid, our determination to remain healthy, our will-power?

I was thinking and walking, and walking and thinking, and then as I stopped for a break, I found myself at McDonald’s. I did not plan on stopping there, it just happened, I swear. Yes, there were healthy options: A chicken salad for example, that was staring at me through the glass doors of a large refrigerator.

It remained a disappointed orphan. Instead, I found myself admiring the marvel that is the chocolate-dipped vanilla ice-scream cone.

The dipped Cone is an architectural marvel because the ice-cream part of this contraption is heavier, wider, bulkier, and more swirling than the wafer base on which it stands, and yet, the structure stands tall.

It is a culinary marvel for its combination of flavors, temperatures, and texture, sweet, rich and smooth, cold cream in an envelope of warm, crunchy chocolate. It is a business marvel because it cost only $1. It is a nutritional disaster for it is packed with calories and saturated fat (44 percent of the daily allowance).

First, I admired the dipped cone. Then, I bit into it. And in the end, I devoured it.

Editor’s note: Dr. Shahar Madjar is a urologist working in several locations in the Upper Peninsula. Contact him at smadjar@yahoo.com or at DrMadjar.com.