The following is an extract from “The Consumption Cleanse” chapter on Deep Fried Food.
The beach side town where I spent most of my 30’s had a seafood shop that was famous for its deep fried mars bars. They even had a picture of the newspaper article that featured this odd ‘seafood’ in the window of their shop. Needless to say every tourist who saw this clipping swarmed like flies on a turd to get one… and eventually gag on it. Now that I picture it, it did look remarkably like a turd.
The locals knew that it was something so disgusting and ridiculously unhealthy, that no amount of novelty would draw them in. A chocolate bar, coated in beer batter, deep fried in filthy fishy oil, coated in icing sugar and then sold by a seafood shop defies The Consumption Cleanse regulations a whopping FIVE TIMES. (Seafood is in a later chapter). It is actually sweet on the first nibble, but after that it is frighteningly sickly. Everything beneath the outer sugar layer gets fused into a homogeneous congealed gloop only held rigid by the bloated, fishy batter.
When something is deep fried, particularly in batter, it is typically done at a temperature higher than what the oil can withstand without changing into something toxic. This ensures a crispy, tasty outcome but also promises what comes out of the vat, is not what went in. You might call it a kind of alchemy. Although I doubt alchemy can be blamed for the deep fried rat found in a California man’s KFC chicken nuggets a little while back. But who can know, stranger things have happened. Or have they?
For my money, besides the major negative health implications associated with deep frying, I want my food to resemble as close as possible its form when it was alive. I want it to retain the nutrition it had before it was tormented in boiling hot oil.
What is it?
Deep frying is as old as the hills. But this does not mean it is good for you – syphilis is also as old as the hills. Almost always, deep fried food is extremely bad for you. There is a way to make deep frying a healthy option but you won’t find it applied anywhere outside your own home. There is a specific manner in which to do it which I discuss in the Cleanse section towards the end of this chapter. So I will make it easy and include in this category everything that is deep fried, subject to that one method.
There’s all the obvious stuff like fast food chain deep fried chicken parts, fish, french fries and I suppose rats to be complete. Also consider all variants of the french fry such as potato wedges and fries made of other vegetables. Then you have all that lovely seafood done in batter, schnitzels and anything cooked tempura style. There is all sorts of weird and wonderful faux foods that go through the hot oil at carnivals and fairs. The height of Man’s culinary evolution brings us the dagwood dog, the battered ‘sav’, the corn fritter and the deep fried spring roll and dim sim. But I suspect you could have figured this out on you own.
There were some unexpected foods that I was not happy to see go, as they had entered my diet more so since starting this cleanse. I did an inventory of what I eat, well, what I was still permitted to eat. Sadly I had to say goodbye to many of the tofu and tempe varieties I was eating, I found they were deep fried not just fried. Much Indian food gets the oil treatment such as Onion Bhaji’s along with representatives from Mexico such as the Chimichanga. I also turned my back on the humble donut, falafel and prawn chip.
Deep frying is everywhere, be on you guard. I certainly now have to customise most meals I order in a restaurant. I am becoming a pain the arse, and I’m only half way through!
Why is it bad?
Don’t you just look at stuff in those deep fryer vats and know it shouldn’t go into your body? I confess I did like to have french fries accompany my bun-less organic vegetable and tofu burger but it turns out that deep fried potatoes are the worst of the worst. Check out this cornucopia of issues with eating deep fried food:
- Trans Fats. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetables oils (Trans Fats) are commonly used in the deep fryers of restaurants the world over. Trans fats raise your cholesterol, harden your arteries and increases the likelihood of heart disease. They contribute to inflammation in your body, insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Overheating. In order to get that crispy batter effect, oil needs to be heated to a higher temperature than what it can remain stable at. When oil is overheated or the same oil overused oxidation and polymerisation occur leaving the oil and the products cooked in it rancid tasting and packed full of free radicals and other toxic compounds.
- Even Good Oil! The smoke point of some common good oils, such as extra virgin olive oil (160°C) is typically lower than other oils. Bringing these oils up to around 180°C, the typical temperature required for deep frying, exceeds their smoke point and turns oil turns toxic.
- Overuse. Most restaurants will only change their oil daily at best. Using oil over and over again increases the breakdown and oxidation process.
- Cancer. When carbohydrate rich foods, think potatoes, are deep fried they produce acrylamide, a carcinogen associated with cancer. Check out the short clip about the danger of french fries from the folks at nutritionfacts.org, (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/cancer-risk-from-french-fries/).
- No Nutrition. The deep frying process kills a lot of the useful vitamins and minerals in the food.
- Brain Malfunction. Some oils like sunflower and flaxseed oil break down and produce the most toxic aldehyde when heated for long hours. Aldehyde compounds increase the risk of neural disorders.
- Flammable. Of course oil is flammable. Deep fryers are the leading cause of house fires in the United Kingdom.
- Burns. Scalding hot deep fryer oil can cause 3rd degree burning of the skin and in extreme cases, death.
- Waste Oil. Finally, deep frying produces loads of waste oil. This is often disposed of down the drain overflowing sewer systems, sticking to pipes and wreaking havoc in sewerage treatment systems.
Book 1 of the Consumption Cleanse continues the story and discusses how to remove deep fried food from you life and gives up some useful alternatives.