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Pasties and Hot Sauce

June 29, 2011


“World’s oldest woman enjoyed pasties with hot sauce”
was one of the headlines on the BBC website this week.

Apparently a Brazilian woman thought to have been the world’s oldest person has died at the age of 114.

“Reports” like this really annoy me.

Are we supposed to infer that pasties with hot sauce is the recipe for great longevity?

Maybe this old lady – well, dead lady, to be more precise – only started eating pasties with hot sauce a month ago, and that’s what killed her.

Maybe if the reporter who submitted this article had taken the trouble to question members of the woman’s family they’d have told him or her: “She was doing fine until she started eating those damned pasties with hot sauce.”

We just don’t know.

It’s like those non-meat eaters who delight in telling you that GB Shaw was a vegetarian, and he lived to the age of 94 (after which, ironically, he became dead meat himself).

Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian too, but they never mention him.

Incidentally, Shaw’s father had a bad squint (is there such a thing as a good squint?) which Oscar Wilde’s father, who was a renowned Dublin surgeon at the time, tried – without success – to correct. So Shaw the elder died with his squint intact. For all we know his family had it framed and mounted.

Anyway, to get back to the point I was making, Shaw was a veggie and he lived to be 94. It’s hardly scientific proof of anything, is it? George Burns smoked fifteen cigars every day for most of his adult life, and he lived to be 100. Are we to conclude that smoking cigars is marginally better for one’s health than living on lettuce?

Turtles are herbivores, and they live twice as long as humans. But are they herbivores by choice, you have to wonder, or because they can’t move fast enough to catch anything tasty? They’re not exactly designed to be effective predators. It’s hard to imagine a turtle sneaking up on a gazelle at a watering hole and lunging for its throat. By the time a turtle crept up on any animal it would already have died of old age.

Unless it was a parrot, of course. Some species of parrot can live up to 100 years. But parrots, like most humans, are omnivores, so their longevity can’t be attributed to not eating meat. On the other hand they don’t smoke cigars, so where does that leave us?

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