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Pick a winner

By By Robert St. John / food columnist
March 31, 2004
I often wonder if other food columnists receive as much hate mail as I do. Actually, I often wonder if other food columnists even receive hate mail.
I could understand receiving hate mail if I wrote an op-ed column and was weighing in on important social, political and economic issues. I would expect hate mail if I were a sports journalist dealing with the heated arguments involving sports rivalries. But this is food, folks.
Over the course of my five-year food-writing career, I have managed to upset many groups and individuals. A short list would include: possum eaters, chitlin eaters, SPAM lovers, Hormel executives, Waffle House fans, people who hate people who put sugar in their cornbread, Atkins-diet lovers, the Atkins corporate office, Atkins corporate lawyers, the campaign manager of a Louisiana gubernatorial candidate, the School Cafeteria Workers Association, and, last but not least, my good friends at PETA who call me a "predator" and have added me to their 10 most-wanted list.
If I have upset anyone in the past, I am sorry. Well, I'm not sorry that I upset you; I am sorry you chose to get upset and then write me about it. Lighten up people, it's a food column.
Actually, this column can only be called a "food column" in the broadest sense. Some form of food or eating is usually involved. Sometimes it's a strange food item, other times it's an odd eating habit. It is, however, a column on that point we can agree.
I write all of this in preparation for the column you are about to read, hoping to avoid the usual scathing e-mails and angry phone conversations that accompany these touchy subjects.
Note to the reader: For those with weak stomachs, stop reading, NOW!
Note to editors: Do not place this column next to a recipe for Aunt Erma's Potato Salad as no one will ever eat potato salad again.
Here we go. According to the Internet news provider Ananova, Dr. Friedrich Bischinger, an Innsbruck, Austria-based physician, said, "People who pick their nose and eat the results are some of the healthiest folks around." Sorry folks, I don't make the news, I just bring it to you.
Dr. Bischinger says people who pick their noses with their fingers are "healthier, happier, and probably better in tune with their bodies." Give me a break. There was a girl in my second-grade class who used to do exactly what Dr. Bischinger advises. She didn't appear healthier than the rest of us, albeit the teacher made her go to the bathroom and wash her hands a lot.
Bischinger said: "Society should adopt a new approach to nose-picking and encourage children to take it up." Now there's someone stepping up to the plate and offering valuable advice for today's youth.
Bischinger continues: "With the finger you can get to places you just can't reach with a handkerchief, keeping your nose far cleaner. And eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system."
Let's all pause for a moment and scream, "YUCK!"
All right, now I'm getting sick to my stomach.
One would think that kids could chew a few Flintstone vitamins and get the same favorable results they derive from, well, you-know-what. In the old days all we needed to do was to pop a couple of Barney's, throw in a Wilma or a Fred every once in a while and we were on our way to perfect health.
The good doctor also noted that kids joyfully pick their noses, yet by the time they reach adulthood they quit under pressure from a society that has branded it "disgusting and anti social."
Score: Society 1, Nose-Picking Doctor 0. Go society!
Bischinger said: "I would recommend a new approach where children are encouraged to pick their nose. It is a completely natural response and medically a good idea as well."
What have we learned today? Never shake hands with an Austrian.
Robert St. John is the executive chef/owner of the Purple Parrot Caf and Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg and Meridian. He can be reached at