I’ve put on weight since I started blogging. There aren’t enough hours in the day, so that instead of going for a walk I catch up on reading blogs – for as we all know – writing a blog is the quickest part.
But even walking doesn’t wear off the pounds gained by sitting still, gazing at the seductive screen, tripping the light fantastic across the blogs, there a ‘comment’, here a ‘ like’, there a ‘follow’.
This morning I read a story about a massively obese young man going on the Paleo diet when he was refused life insurance. He sat in front of a computer all day, and snacked. Eating like a caveman, he lost kilos almost immediately. Aha, I thought. The Paleo diet consists of meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables and oils. No-no’s are dairy, grains and carbohydrates, salt, sugar.
But this morning I also got up early to go the Saturday morning food market in the next village, to visit one stall for a delicious round artisan wholemeal loaf, and then the cheese truck, where I bought two generous hunks of Brie and Havarti for half the price I’d pay in the delicatessen. So Brie for lunch with a nice glass of chilled Pinot Gris.
And this is the dilemma. I eat because I enjoy food and savour the infinite variety that modern man has access to, unlike cavemen. It seems to me that cavemen – or Paleos, if I want to sound up to date- ate a vegan diet if you leave out the meat. I’d be happy to leave out the meat, but that doesn’t leave much nourishment for the likes of me…
I have friends who’ve become dedicated vegans recently, or vegetable strong, I think it’s called – but I don’t like the beans you need to eat in order to get enough protein. I also find the food rather bland, and I love my flat white coffee and my hot cups of freshly brewed lapsang souchong tea with milk. Sometimes my flat white or my lapsang are the only things that keep me going! Paleo food with no salt, would be hard to stomach – p’raps that’s why people do lose weight on it!
But I’d hate to live without the occasional delicious pasta supper, or a tasty risotto, and what are potatoes without a little butter? No heavenly aoli, or the odd pancake when I can think of nothing else… no scrumptious rhubarb crumble, or soothing crème caramel, no lovely kedgeree or curry… no boiled egg and toast fingers for breakfast, no tomato omelette when there’s nothing in the larder? No hot buttered toast when all else fails? No,no, Paleo is out.
So how am I to combine blogging with a diet that doesn’t put on weight? Organise my time better, and get a pedometer is one solution. But that still leaves a self – indulgent diet which isn’t doing me any favours. My thoughts go back to my war-time childhood, when no-one ever got fat, and dentists had no patients, while rickets and crossed eyes from malnutrition disappeared from poverty-stricken slums. All teenagers earned the description lanky, no-one even had puppy-fat.
We all ate the same food because that was all there was. Being rich was no advantage. Go shopping without your ration books, or lose them, and you could buy no food. Ration books were stamped when you bought the necessities of life, while coupons which allowed you luxuries like jam or a tin of salmon, bully beef and the like if there were any available, were cut out. When you’d spent your coupons for the month – no more luxuries – if you could call jam, or cocoa a luxury.
We had five ounces of meat per person per week, four ounces of butter, two ounces of cheese, one egg per week. So little sugar that we had golden syrup on our porridge. Tea was rationed, there was no coffee, no chocolate – an orange at Christmas.We also had a small allowance of dried fruit in December, so as to cook a Christmas cake – they thought of everything!
If the butcher made some sausages, word would go round, and there would be a long queue until they ran out, and many times we went home empty handed. Bread went on the ration during the hardships after the war, so you couldn’t even splash out on toast then. Orange juice was supplied for small children. Milk was plentiful, and free for under-fives, so we had milk puddings galore. I know about this, because when I was old enough to go shopping, I was sent out with the ration books. This went on until the end of the forties, and I remember the day sweets came off ration in 1953, when I was fourteen, and I gorged on Maltesers.
But this sparing diet meant no obesity and healthy people… should I be looking at eating like I did when I was a child? Would it be possible to turn back the clock? Could I ration myself to strong cheddar instead of imported camembert? Sausages, instead of smoked salmon? Water instead of wine? Would such a diet be conducive to my blogging lifestyle? You had to cook back then – no pasta for a quickie, and no ready- made meals or frozen suppers to whip into the oven when blogging has got the better of me.
(I lost another frying pan two days ago, mushrooms bubbling gently away in cream and garlic with fresh chopped sage and rosemary, to have on toast for a light lunch. When I remembered it, the mushrooms were just charred relics, and the pan was crusted with burnt everything else, and being non- stick incapable of being scoured – c’est la vie for this blogger – at the screen I’m oblivious to the real world)
So it looks like a pedometer and some plodding, plus self discipline, of which I have very little these days. But at least blogging takes my mind off the problem!
Food for Threadbare Gourmets
I’ve just perfected a recipe for sea-food risotto after enjoying it in my favourite riverside restaurant. In fact, I think I’ve improved on it by adding the herbs which give it depths… and it’s still a cheap meal. The one extravagance is making sure you have a few ounces of moist, melting smoked salmon – not the thin bright orange slices, but the smoked hunks. I keep it in the deep freeze. I always have a packet of frozen shrimps and prawns in the deep freeze too.
So chop an onion finely and fry in a little oil and butter until soft. Add a cup of Arborio rice or similar, and fry for a few minutes.Pour in half a glass or so of good white wine, and let it bubble away. Then start adding hot vegetable stock in small amounts. Chop very finely a few leaves of fresh sage and a small spring of rosemary and add to the rice.
While the rice is absorbing the stock, get half a cup of frozen shrimps or prawns or both from the deep freeze. Let them thaw. (I’ve also used a tin of shrimps if I have no others) Chop the smoked salmon. A small piece is enough for flavour. When the rice is cooked, pour in half a cup of cream, gently fork in the sea-food, and cover for about five minutes. Serve with freshly ground Parmesan and a glass of chilled white wine. Paleos stay in your cave, rub your sticks together and roast your dinosaur.
Food for Thought
The first pre-requisite for education is a willingness to sacrifice your prejudice on the altar of your spiritual growth.
Luisah Teish, African-American writer, teacher and priestess. She is an Oshun chief of the Yoruba-Lucumi tradition