What Would You Eat If You Weren’t Afraid?

It’s Thanksgiving again, that one day of the year where we used to loosen our belts to enjoy […]

It’s Thanksgiving again, that one day of the year where we used to loosen our belts to enjoy a glut of buttery foods. But things have gotten more complicated. In the current gastronomic climate we inhabit, even if we do loosen our physical belts, we tighten the moral ones. Whether it’s nutritionally clean or ethically sourced, Thanksgiving now provides us with a chance to be worthy of our own gratitude. Gluten-free stuffing? Vegan creamed corn? Quinoa sweet potatoes? One by one, our peerlessly tasteful G.M.O.s leave our tables, leaving us thankful for, well, other things. What gives?!


In an article in the Times Magazine, Alex Halberstadt tells the story of his own moral search for the right turkey–a search which landed him with a heritage bird from a small farm in Pennsylvania:

For weeks we watched the turkey — our turkey — on the farmer’s webcam, a cluster of pixels frolicking inside a chicken-wire enclosure. It was butchered and shipped overnight (the FedEx shipping cost nearly as much as the bird) and when it emerged from the oven, mari­nated and basted decadently in butter, the turkey tasted so unspeakably bland that much of it was left on our friends’ plates, camouflaged awkwardly under brussels sprouts. The feel-good narrative of our lovingly raised, hormone-antibiotic-and-G.M.O.-free certified-organic turkey became supplanted with a more ambiguous one. We felt both duped and morally abject: Not only were we out nearly $200, but our ethical gambit put an end to the bird’s bucolic life.

I’m sure you’ve had no such experience. The rest of Halberstadt’s article is a love letter about the joys and complexities of, you guessed it, Frito-Lay’s Sour Cream and Cheddar Ruffles.

Which made me think, just in time for The Food & Drink Issue (out in January), ENOUGH! Let’s do something about this! Mary Karr once asked us a similar question, but this Thanksgiving, we put it to your gut: What would you eat if you weren’t afraid? Seriously, this is not rhetorical: what would you? What would you allow yourself to indulge were it not for the consequences–bodily and ethical and otherwise? Were it not for your self-consciousness?

We want to know! Leave a comment below or email us here, and tell us what heavenly nosh you so diligently (or not so diligently) avoid. And we’ll publish the answers (anonymously) in our upcoming issue! 

Happy Thanksgiving, whatever grub you’re pining for!

subscribe to the Mockingbird newsletter


28 responses to “What Would You Eat If You Weren’t Afraid?”

  1. Em7srv says:

    Hmmmm…such a difficu…ICE CREAM

  2. Charlotte Getz says:

    Cheetos in a can. Mmmmm.

  3. Ginger says:

    Krystals! Every day.

  4. Jim E says:

    The KFC Double Down Sandwich – It is a decadent thing of beauty and excess. (The Double Down contains “bacon, two different kinds of melted cheese, the Colonel’s secret sauce… pinched in between two pieces of Original Recipe chicken fillets.”)

    And McDonald’s fries, hot out of the fryer.

    And a chocolate Wendy’s Frosty.

  5. Jim E says:

    …AND my mother’s oatmeal cookies.

  6. B says:

    Several bowls of Cinnamon Life cereal with whole milk.
    Anything with BBQ sauce on it.
    Onion rings.

  7. Sean says:

    Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

  8. Alison White says:

    Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie Gelato, New York cheese pizza, a cannoli, New Jersey bagels with cream cheese and lox, Triple chocolate fudge cake with fudge topping and fudge pieces on top AND fudge dipping sauce on the side, pie…any kind, but especially sweet potato, a box of Cracklin’ Oat Bran, yogurt,stuffed shells, eggs sunny side up and a piece of toast with butter slathered all over it, etc.
    This list is getting too long. Alas! I cannot eat gluten, dairy, and eggs anymore. This is not self-imposed. “Who will save me from this body of death”!? Haha. Jesus has overcome and one day I will get a body of life, if I may so call it. Just, whatever is completely opposite of what I am working with now. Please. Someday. This gets real old. Happy Thanksgiving 😛 Gobble Gobble!

  9. David Zahl says:

    Pork soup dumplings
    Deep fried Oreos
    Bagel dogs with sauerkraut
    Fluffernutter milkshakes
    Pepperoni pizza
    Shake Shack anything
    Grilled Doughnuts

  10. Cj says:

    Several tubes of pillsbury cinnamon rolls and papa johns for dessert. And also swedish fish and gushers

  11. Ellery says:

    My wife’s Mojo Marinated Roast Pork. ESPECIALLY the oven baked cracklin.

  12. Kay says:

    If I weren’t afraid, I would eat french fries every day!

  13. Julie says:

    Haha– papa johns for dessert. That’s funny. I would eat something sweet every day.

  14. Paula says:

    Hit Krispy Kreme’s

  15. Dee says:

    Chocolate chip cookies, for sure!

  16. M says:

    Meat of all sorts, especially spicy sausages and salmon, if I weren’t afraid of betraying my (self-conscious) conscience.

  17. dl says:

    I’m starting to feel self-conscience about not having a list of foods that I avoid…

  18. Ben says:

    A Wendy’s Triple. My parents would never let me get one when I was a kid and did not care about being fat. But since both the freedom to make my own dietary decisions and “the commandment” (Thou shalt not be fat) came at almost exactly the same time, I’ve never gotten around to living apart from that law.

  19. Ben says:

    And one more… I heard a guy on TV the other day saying how he likes to take a a half-dozen hot Krispy Kreme donuts, squeeze them together into a ball and eat it like an apple. I’d try that.

  20. Luke says:

    I once ate a dozen Krispy Kreme in about 5 minutes. It was awesome!

  21. ABN says:


  22. Ethan Richardson says:

    Guess I’d better chime in:
    For breakfast, Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop Tarts, toasted, with butter.
    For lunch, McDonalds Big Mac Extra Value Meal, with an apple pie.
    For dinner, Momma’s Pancake Breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

  23. […] What Would You Eat If You Weren’t Afraid?, What would you allow yourself to indulge were it not for the consequences–bodily and ethical and otherwise? Were it not for your self-consciousness? (For us it would definitely be hot Cheetos) […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *