Calorie counting doesn’t always add up | Eva Wiseman

How putting calories on menus has become the week’s burning issue

It’s been a week since the labelling of calories on restaurant menus was made mandatory in England, and what a week. What a week! The first day saw diners gazing into the menus as if deep lakes or mirrors, their eyes finally focusing on these new codes, printed jauntily under the chips. Some tried texting the numbers, only to receive error messages or adverts from sim-card manufacturers. Some worried they were new prices, under Brexit. Some assumed they were star ratings from previous customers, the carbonara performing particularly well, the carrot sticks abominable. As the week continued, its days unfolding like a picnic blanket, the British public found itself changing.

On day two, people picked up their menus tentatively, as if boobytrapped. The cryptic numbers, they’d learned, in a series of hurriedly called town meetings and late night WhatsApp conversations, were a cipher – the higher numbers were bad and caused death, while the lower numbers were righteous and good, though may lead to occasional headaches in the afternoon. But still, people were drawn to the foods their bodies told them they wanted – the baguettes, the croquettes with the internal cheese that burns the tongue in a way that’s fabulous, the large plate of meat with a shaving of parsley and an exquisitely carved garnish of carrot in the shape of a duck. It was a confusing day, and that night they slept badly in sheets of guilt, their dreams taking the form of deathly pastas and puddings that burned.

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