The man on the television a few days ago was identified as as an M.D. with impeccable credentials and the director of some sort of national organization devoted to saving the citizens of the United States from eating themselves to death. This group's latest proclamation was being received by the media quite well. Verily, shortly after I saw this good doctor's statement on one channel, I not only read pieces of it in our local newspaper, but witnessed sound-bites of it on three or four news channels (even FOX news!)

The essence of this guy's statement was this: the restaurants of America are committing an assault-by-calories on the public at large. Through carefully-worded menus, signage, and little table-cards, says the doc, restaurateurs were luring normally careful eaters into consuming meals totaling an entire week's recommended calorie intake. "The Cheesecake Factory (a popular chain) offers a dessert consisting of a warm chocolate-chip brownie, stuffed with ice cream and surrounded by a sugarey sauce, atop which they place many ounces of whipped cream!" I began to salivate. What he was getting at was that this dessert alone weighed in at a whopping 1,400 calories and millions of grams of fat. Apparently, the average healthy person should consume between 1,000 to 2,000 calories per day, not per sitting, and certainly not per serving.

First of all, what health-conscious diner in their right mind would venture out to take a meal at a place named "The Cheesecake Factory" if they were seeking high-fiber, low calorie fare? Second, but for a few cooking-challenged individuals who've the means to dine out all the time, I was of the notion that dining out was more often a treat than a necessity.

Just when I thought that the noxious dust created by the movie Super-Size Me had settled, another vicious attack on the establishments that feed America has been launched, "with vigor" (to quote John F. Kennedy). After pondering where this trend was going, my convoluted logic concluded that, unless the National Restaurant Association gets its ass in gear, all of us in the business will soon be compelled by either regulation or legislation to include on our menus "Nutrition Facts" labels not unlike those now mandated to be displayed on every foodstuff offered for sale in packaged form in retail markets.

The last time I strolled the aisle of a supermarket I was overwhelmed with neon-colored type on the packaged food labels, blaring out "now with less trans-fat" or "All Natural" or "Just 5 calories per serving" (that one was good; the recommended serving was three ounces - the package contained a good 16 ounces of the stuff (Chocolate pudding). When was the last time YOU opened a 16-ounce package of ANYTHING and carefully measured out three ounces, and refrigerated the rest. Okay, okay, so you do watch what you eat. I'm sorry if I offended you (but I'm the kind of guy who'll sit down with an Entenmann's Chocolate Cake, quarter it, place a pint of Breyer's Vanilla Ice Cream between two of the quarters, and eat the whole thing with a spoon. (The other two quarters will be eaten, by hand, out of the box, as a midnight snack.)

So this evening while my wife pointed at me and laughed as I struggled to get my slacks off, rather than knock her down the stairs, I decided to "change my anger into action." This being advice I believe I'd heard on the "Dr. Phil" show. My attention was brought to this particular Dr. Phil show after I'd punched a few holes in the sheetrock of our new home; changing my anger into action in an entirely different fashion than I think Dr. Phil had intended.

The action I took was to go to the den and pull out one of my favorite books, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by the late Julia Child et. al. It's no secret to anyone who's read the book or watched even one of her delightful television programs that Julia's drug of choice is butter. Would that the French repertoire gastronomique include a recipe for "Quenelles of Farm-Fresh Butter with Butter Cubes in a Tarragon Beurre Blanc," I'd hazard a guess that good old Julia would've included the recipe therefor in her tome, and recommended a delightful wine to accompany the delicacy.

I recall well when that wonderful book changed the way Americans (well, some of them, at least) would eat. It paved the way for Gourmet magazine, a venerable publication dedicated to le bon vie. Craig Claiborne, may he rest in peace, came on the scene thereafter and raved about such bastions of butter as Le Cote Basque, Lutece, and the Quilted Giraffe in New York City when he was the restaurant reviewer for The New York Times.

So "pshaw!" I say to this M.D. who'd blame the restaurants for the fattening of America (and not the porcine, paste-palated partakers of restaurant food who're the one's whose pudgy little hands are shoveling the stuff into their ever-so-eager mouths. Had he accused Le Cote Basque of contributing to the obesity of its high-society diners, He'd have had his name removed from the list of invitations to every charity ball from Palm Beach to Newport so fast his head would spin.

Excuse me, now. I must leave on that note. There's an all-night Baskin-Robbins ice cream store singing its siren song to me yet again...