Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.

CP: Yet another big attention-getting book about how Big Food has conspired to bliss us out on "Salt Sugar Fat." Otherwise known as my three favorite food groups.

RN: Wait, you left out alcohol.

CP: That's a given. Seriously, I am hooked on processed food, from the supposedly good for you (Lean Cuisines) to the indisputably detrimental (Barbara's Jalapeño cheese puffs, Three Musketeers bars, microwave breakfast sausages, as well as almost anything in the cookie/cake family).

RN: Then the industrial food complex has done its job. Sometimes it's all I can do to keep from heedlessly ripping through an entire package of Oreo Double Stuf. Well, a row, anyway. I blame it on advertising.

CP: Not sure about that. They have ads in that Mediterranean area, but everyone just eats a bit of olive oil, some lean fish and platefuls of fresh greens, from the sound of it.

RN: Which explains why the words "Greek" and "gods" go together so naturally. Here, have a chocolate chip cookie. I bought them at the co-op, so they must be good for you, right?

CP: I think the operative phrase there is "a tiny bit less bad."

RN: Everything in moderation, I suppose. So why don't I remember that when I come face to face with a carton of Jeni's salted caramel ice cream?

CP: You are publicly moderate. When you and I eat at a restaurant, the shared dessert is generally split not 50-50, but 90-10.

RN: My sugar shame is largely private, true. I wish my cravings ran toward salt, but when it comes to the Solomonic choice between popcorn or candy at the multiplex, I'll go for the Junior Mints, every time.

CP: Perhaps kettle corn achieves its status as a near-perfect foodstuff by blending all three bad-for-you ingredients in some kind of Golden Proportion.

RN: Edible evil, that's what that is.

CP: Who I hate is my friend Mark, who seems perfectly content on a daily basis with a bit of salmon and some scantily dressed arugula. What's missing? I dunno, an iced brownie?

RN: Then there's my Robert, who actually enjoys eating oatmeal. I can barely glance at a box of Quaker Oats without my mind immediately going to cream and brown sugar, hardly a heart-healthy impulse.

CP: All of the known porridges fall in that in-between world of not really food but not quite mineral, either.

RN: I know, let's make oatmeal cookies, with raisins. They're a fruit, right? I'm feeling virtuous already.

E-mail: witheringglance@startribune.com

Twitter: @claudepeck and @RickNelsonStrib