(My Life-Long Love Affair With Food)
I don’t normally put sub-titles to my postings, but I felt this one deserved one. There is no way I can share my “adventure” at going raw without giving some background as to my relationship with food. And it is a love affair.
I have had an intimate relationship with food ever since I can remember. Some of my earliest memories of food are:
– sitting under the dining room table in the middle of the night eating rice paper (don’t even ask!!)
– sitting for what seemed like hours on the garden gate or at the front room window waiting for Aunty Polly to arrive with ice cream and candy
– going to Aunty Peggy’s to have wonderful four course dinners that included incredible appetizers, cheese and crackers, dessert with coffee (like in a “grown
– going down to the kid’s secret den to eat as many candies as I had been able to take from the pantry without it looking as though someone had taken them
(I’m sure my mother realized!)
– finger-swiping the frosting off a freshly baked “chocolate horror” cake (bliss!)
– sneaking teaspoonful’s of Fry’s chocolate spread (pure paradise!!)
– biting into the crusty heel of a fresh loaf of country bread slathered in real butter
– English cheddar cheese and crunchy pickled onions
So as you can see I was pretty much addicted to food from an early age. I could describe in detail, and still can, the sensations of different foods hitting the different taste buds in the various areas of my mouth just the way someone can describe the details in a picture. I think God proved that He really, really loved us when he gave us taste buds.
I discovered “ethnic” restaurants in my mid to upper teens and a whole new world of tastes and flavors opened up to me. English food is usually so bland and much of it, particularly vegetables, is simply boiled into oblivion and mush. Indian curry and crisp Chinese vegetables were like heaven, and the awesome blend of herbs in authentic, freshly cooked, Italian cuisine can still send me into a swoon today. I think you get the picture.
Moving to Sardinia, Italy in 1979 was a dream come true for this foodaholic. The Sardinian cuisine is unique and is as beautiful as the island itself. Home-made pasta was the norm in a Sardinian home in those days and if you have never eaten fresh home-made pasta you need to before you die. Roast lamb, kid, and pig are nothing like anything over here. I have eaten some of the best bar-b-q pork since coming to the States but nothing touches a succulent roast-in-the-ground pig in Sardinia.
From Sardinia I returned to London in 1978. It was mainly a “big mistake” but forms part of my life journey so it was important. During the five years I remained in the UK back then the only time that I ate well was when I cooked Italian pasta or I ate ethnic. I missed Italy badly, not just the food but the whole culture. So it was with a happy heart that I returned in 1983 to live in Naples, Italy.
Naples, rather like Sicily, gets a bad rap in some tourist books, but I fell in love with Naples very quickly. There’s an Italian saying that goes, “see Naples and die”. There’s a Neapolitan saying that goes, “Napoli ti prende per la gola” – Naples grabs you by the throat. The people are warm-hearted and friendly and the food, well I’m not sure anything I could say about Neapolitan food would do it justice. There are amazing pasta dishes with incredible sauces and fresh seafood cooked in the simplest but most divinely-tasting ways. “Dolce” (cakes) are out of this world and the pizza, oh the pizza!!!!! You have not eaten real pizza until you eat pizza prepared and baked in Naples. Not even the pizza in other parts of Italy is as sublime as Neapolitan pizza.
And then there’s REAL mozzarella cheese freshly dripping in its own liquid. This is an absolute delicacy that is only made in Naples, Italy. There is only one place over here that I know of where you can find real, fresh Mozzarella cheese and that is at the Fratelli La Buffala restaurant in the beaches area of Miami. They have it flown in fresh from Naples two or three times per week.
So, with all this love of marvelously prepared and served food, how do I get to going raw? With great difficulty let me tell you! I guess with age comes some sort of wisdom, and my brain began to tell my body that two hundred pounds on a five foot four inch frame was not so healthy. And, as usually happens with the fat accumulation, my blood pressure had risen and my cholesterol was fast following it.
Thankfully, when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Back in 2005, about eighteen months after getting to Jacksonville, Florida, my church hosted a series of classes on the vegetarian diet. I was interested not only because I thought it would help me lose weight, combat the BP and cholesterol issue, and improve my overall wellness, but also because the classes were offered by the Cancer Society as a way to help people prevent cancer or live cancer free once they were in remission. Because there is a history of cancer in my family I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns.
I’ll leave the “vegetarian experiment” for my next posting in this series.
Well, I’m sitting here looking at my lap-top and wondering just what am I going to write about. Maybe that’s the wrong comment. I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to write about – my absence from writing since 20 October. I’m just not sure how I’m going to go about it or exactly what will appear on the page.
I can at least share what I have been doing in the last ten days: reading. I have devoured at least twelve books in that period. Every spare moment has been spent reading. Every meal and every bathroom visit has been accompanied by the book du jour. I have done essential housework and kept appointments, and I have read. My husband has been away for the last week so I have been able to indulge my little addiction with no guilt whatsoever. I have avoided going out unless I had to, and I have avoided any other activities inside or outside the home that I might normally engage in.
With one exception: gardening. Somehow or other the garden manages to break through all barriers within me. And now is the great time of weeding and clearing, pruning certain plants and attempting to dig out the root systems of those pesky crab grasses and vines that seem to take over every nook and cranny during the summer months. Pansies have finally appeared in the garden centers and I have brought many flats home to brighten up the winter flower beds.
Perhaps the reading marathon is akin to squirrels collecting and hoarding their nuts for winter provisions. Right now is nature’s time to pull back and curl up and hibernate a little. And so I move into autumnal mode, make my hot herbal teas, and curl up with adventures created by other authors. I was thinking a little earlier on today that maybe I am tired of my own words and need to fill my head and my heart with the words of other writers.
There was a moment somewhere in these last ten days when I wondered if I was in one of my “funks” (read de-pression). But I have not felt that awful slide downwards, nor have my days been gray. Tears have not plagued me and so I decided not to fight it and just accepted that I needed to read rather than write. I have not felt frustrated at not writing, and I was still surrounded by words!
I have discovered Rosamunde Pilcher who writes about families and their incredibly rich relationships. She has a way of unfolding their stories on the written page that invites the reader into their lives in such an intimate fashion. Her characters are so real that I feel as though I could invite them into my own life and they would fit. And along with Rosamunde I have been reading Belva Plain whose style I find to be simply elegant and elegantly simple.
Then, too, I came across Robert B. Parker. I love a good detective or suspense story and he manages to combine those two aspects in the best possible way. His dialogues are composed of short phrases, sometimes pure monosyllables or just one or two word sentences. But they are so succinct, so totally perfect, and his humor is dry yet delectable as a nutty, crisp cracker (must appeal to the Brit in me!). The plots move along at a fast pace and keep the reader involved from start to finish. His series of books with PI Spenser as the central character is terrific and well worth the read.
And here I am writing again. There was one other thought process that I have entertained about my not writing. It reminded me a little of what happens when I make up my mind to get back into exercising or to make a specific change in my diet. Either something comes up (a sickness or an arthritic flare up) that keeps me from doing the exercise, or I get a “chocolate attack” and there goes the healthy eating. So either “he-who-shall-not-be-named” is getting at me, or I fall into a big hole of self-sabotage.
But I have managed to reach a point in my life where I can accept most situations as they unfold. “What is, is” says my dear friend Tish. And so I read obsessively for a couple of weeks – no big deal. It has brought me great joy. It is wonderful to love myself enough that I do not need to beat myself up. Bottom line is I was enriching my vocabulary and feeding my heart and soul.