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Going Raw: Part One

(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 
   up’s” restaurant)

– 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.  

Musings: Creativity and Cold!

It has been very cold, at least by Florida standards it’s been cold.  Since Christmas Day the thermometer on my sheltered lanai has been registering somewhere between 44F and 48F degrees at about 7.30am.  That’s the latest time that I  usually get out there for my morning quiet time. So there have actually been a couple of mornings that, even bundled up in flannel PJ’s with a warm sweater and my cozy wrap blanket, it was too cold to enjoy my quiet time outside.

I do not “do cold” very well, although if the sun is shining I can certainly handle it better than if the weather is also gray and miserable or raining.  I spent the first twenty five years of my life in London, England before moving to live in Italy.  After experiencing warm weather and sunshine for most of the year for many years I have not tolerated cold or gray very well since then.

My experience has also been that warmth and sunshine affects the population and the whole culture and way of life of said population.  The English are well know for their “stiff upper lip” and their reservation of character, which can often be taken as a form of stand offishness.  They tend to keep themselves to themselves and this tends to lead other nationalities to think of them as “unfriendly”.

Travelling on the London underground train service or in the characteristic red double-deck buses of London City, you will meet a sea of stony faces and solid silence. When I lived and worked there I would definitely feel dismal and gray inside my soul by the end of the working week. I had to put a lot of energy into getting back into my up beat mode over the weekend.  In another posting I will share a poem that I wrote about this when I lived in London back in the early eighties.

But, get on a train or a bus in Italy and there is animation, the noise of many conversations and much gesticulating and laughter.  In fact, you will usually be drawn into whatever conversation is going on next to you as people turn round to include you.  I guess that would be a good way of describing life in Italy – inclusive.  People want you in their lives and they want to be part of your life too.

And then in Italy there is so much colour.  People dress colourfully and with great pizzazz.  People talk colourfully, with their hands and facial expressions as well as with their voices.  Houses are colourful, especially in the south or on the many islands dotted along the long coastline of this peninsula country.  It is not abnormal to find many shades of green, blue, pink, ochre, and yellow along the street and in “parco’s” (what we would refer to as sub-divisions here in America).  And on top of everything the sun shines – a lot:-). It is very easy to stay happy and up beat in such a climate and environment.

So, back to days of cold here in Florida.  I have been somewhat house-closeted and have not been able to spend much time outside in my lanai.  And this has affected my ability to write, to let the Muse have her way with me.  I did go to my computer a couple of times with the intention of writing, but being stuck in doors gets me feeling stuck in my heart and head and the words just would not flow. 

Even though it is somewhat grey today (we have even had a little rain), the thermometer is registering 66F degrees and I can comfortably sit outside.  I am once again surrounded by God-given nature and I breath real fresh air.  It’s almost as though the oxygen releases my thought processes and I feel the ideas begin to run around in my head.  Heating and air conditioned air just block my creative juices.  I am grateful for warmer weather that allows the Muse to come out and play.