(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.
To say that I have been in a “dry spell” is an understatement. I have been wandering in an arid desert for some time. It has been a month since I have written anything. Nothing has surfaced to the tips of my fingers during that period. Life has been happening, as usual and there is little control that I have over it. It is a good thing that I trust in God to take care of the universe and that I do believe that everything is in divine order, even if I cannot see that.
I have been dealing with bee stings and the consequent physical reactions to them. No, I’m not completely allergic to them. I don’t have to carry the little needle stick thingy that some people have to carry. But I do get very bad localized reactions – swelling, infection, and inflammation, which means a trip to the doctor.
So then I had to deal with antibiotics and tapering steroids, followed by the consequences of taking antibiotics (you ladies know what I mean by that!). And so, guess what? Another trip to the doctor. Which then meant more antibiotics – great!! The weather then turned “grey” for several days and my spirit, which was struggling to stay afloat anyway, took a nosedive.
Just to add to my personal misery, I took a tumble. I was having lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, stepped from the carpeted area onto a very slick (read greasy) rubberized part of the floor around the food area, and felt like I had stepped onto an ice rink. I managed to not fall on my back (which was where I was initially headed), but went down hard on the outside of my right knee. It’s amazing how something like that can affect the normal routine of life.
First of all I had to cancel my Pilates lesson and make yet another trip to the doctor. When I walked in this time I asked his receptionist if she had my key ready. She looked somewhat confused and asked, which key? I smiled and said, “The key to my hotel room. I feel like I’m taking up residence!” I went home with a knee brace and instructions to “RICE” – Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. So no Pilates for a few days, no exercise at all for a few days.
Just to let the universe know I was not happy, or maybe vice versa, who knows, two days later I banged the toe next to my little toe on my left foot into a door. I’m not sure what kept the cuss words at bay. Perhaps a lot of practicing at reducing this particular defect of character. After icing it for a couple of hours it turned the requisite deep purple and blue green and I decided I should buddy tape it in case I had broken it. I made the decision not to go to the doctor’s again just in case he thought I was stalking him.
It is at this point that I remember thinking that I would like to go to the airport and get on the first flight that came along. Then I thought that maybe that could be to “Small Town, Idaho” (no offense to any natives from there). So I went out and bought a bar of the best chocolate I could find and deliberately comfort-ate with a nice cup of tea. Very British of me!
Well the last couple of days have seen a slight shift in the weather. Not quite so hot and definitely not so swampy. I love the heat and the sun and I even tolerate humidity, but we’ have had six or seven solid weeks of relentless heat and humidity and I have discovered that it drains me on all levels. And when I’m drained my Muse disappears:-(.
So the cool breezes and lower temperatures and the lack of high humidity levels seem to have freed my spirit enough to get on the keyboard. I am hoping that this will continue for a while now because I can already feel some ideas catching up and getting ready to pop out onto the page. Have a great Labor Day weekend.
Many years ago I attended a CREDO Team Building Retreat in Naples, Italy. At some point during the retreat, the chaplain who was leading us read the following quotation:
“The meaning of life is listening to Pavarotti, feeling the sun on your face, drinking a bottle of wine, and then another. The meaning of life is having a safe and healthy society, a happy family life, good health, a loving wife (husband), work that you like, smelling the smell of a new car and the ocean air, being able to hit a bull’s eye, coming home with the fish and not another fish story.”
That’s right, he was an Italian butcher and these words of his struck a chord deep in my heart. They resonated clearly within my soul. It’s the kind of down-to-earth philosophy/spirituality that brings me home – to myself and to my God.
As I read these words again today I am transported to my beloved Italy where everything is experienced in the moment. The senses are so alive in the Italian culture and emotions are right there, on the surface of the skin. Italians most definitely have a passion about everything they do. Even the most mundane thing is appreciated to the core.
So as I allow a wave of Italian nostalgia to sweep over me, and as I reread Carmine’s words, here are some God thoughts that come swimming to the surface.
- See the golden sunrise and the blood red sunset spreading their beauty over creation, and you see God.
- Smell the intoxicating perfume of jasmine and honeysuckle, or the aroma of freshly baked bread, and you smell God.
- Touch a baby’s cheek with the tip of your nose, or kiss the soft folds of skin on the back of his neck, and you touch God.
- Taste the exquisite flavor of a piece of chocolate, or a forkful of fresh home-made Italian pasta or exotic Indian curry, and you taste God.
- Hear the song of the blackbird in the evening dusk, or the crescendo of a full concert orchestra, or the whisper of a soft summer wave on the shore, and you hear God.
It’s amazing all the people, places, and situations where I find God. Where I can meet him head on in my day. Right now as I sit in my Florida lanai, I can hear the wind sighing strongly through the pine woods behind my home, and I hear God. The wind is picking up as we experience the outer reaches of tropical storm Ida, and the various wind chimes around my garden are tinkling and I think of heaven, and cherubs, and God.
My cat, Mokka, lies peacefully sleeping on a chair beside me curled into a perfect circle, her body rising and falling gently with each breath she takes. She is a perfect example of God’s creative powers. And the tantalizing aroma of fresh made curried lentil and vegetable soup is wafting through the sliding doors and I am reminded of ……………… my humanity and the fact that I’m hungry and it’s time for dinner!!