(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.
Just recently life has thrown a few curve balls into my personal space. Nothing drastic, but enough to throw me off balance. And then, of course, there’s the dratted weather, which has thrown enough curve balls into everyone’s territory to create disruptions galore.
My last posting (yes, I know, it’s been two long weeks!), was on 7 March Musings- Freedom, and I shared how sick I had been and how much I was enjoying the freedom of wellness. We had a short interlude of a few days of good weather as I regained my strength, and the first call of order was the garden. So much needed to be done in the way of general tidying and clearing before beginning on the major project which would completely remodel my front yard.
I have to admit that even as I experienced the joy of gardening, I struggled with a certain level of frustration. As much as I wanted/needed to be out doing the garden, especially as I had lost so much time due to bad weather and we didn’t know how long the warm weather was going to last, I also really wanted to be writing. Having two passions is sometimes difficult to manage and the garden passion and the writing passion each carry about equal weight in my heart.
Well, I chose the garden and managed to get a few days good work in as well as immersing myself into the the general mainstream of my daily life. I was on about day five of this readjustment back to normal when the next curve ball arrived and truly took the wind out of my sails.
I had just arrived in St. Augustine for a Body Talk appointment. I pulled into the parking lot, took my phone out of my bag to put it on silent mode, and it rang in my hand. It was my husband calling to let me know that he was in the ER with chest pains “but please don’t get alarmed”!
In hindsight I have learned that my reaction to crisis/alarming news is to back off, disconnect if you will. In that moment I said to my husband, “I’ve just arrived at my appointment in St. Augustine, do you need me there?” He kind of muttered around for a few moments as I cautiously allowed my mind and my heart to re-approach the reality of the situation, then he said, “Yes, I think I’d like you here.”
As I ran in to cancel my appointment before turning the car around and racing back to Jacksonville, I realized what my comment must have sounded like to my husband as he lay on a gurney in the ER. I called him immediately and left a message (they had made him turn his phone off). I told him that even as I had asked that ridiculous question, there had been no doubt that I would go right to the hospital to be with him. I had just needed a moment to allow my fear to subside so that I could get on and do what I needed to do.
I guess for me it is a defense mechanism. Stepping back so that I can allow my head and my heart to kind of sync up together and work in harmony. It’s the kind of mechanism that has us go to numbness or disbelief in the face of personal tragedy. We need that small space of time so that God can step in and hold our heart and our hand, or even pick us right up into His arms, and walk us through the pain and the difficulty of any given tough situation.
I spent the whole of the drive back to Jacksonville in prayer mode. I asked God to protect my husband and surround him with His healing grace. I made a couple of phone calls: one to my daughter to put her in the picture, and two more to dear friends so that I would have my support group in place no matter what.
By the time I got to the hospital I was calm. They had done a bunch of tests on Richard and were beginning to administer some different medications. His EKG’s, chest X-ray, and blood work were OK, but he was still experiencing tightness and pressure in his chest as well as shortness of breath when speaking. They kept him in for observation for a couple of days before sending him home with more medication and instructions for follow-up, including an appointment with the Cardiologist.
It is amazing how a couple of days and a crisis can affect the human system. It was only after getting Richard home and seeing him slowly return to normal that I realized how exhausted my body was. As I went through the process of letting go of the anxiety all I wanted to do was sleep. I also noted how I felt generally irritable, and irritated toward Richard. (Like how dare he put me through that!!).
Stress is a very hard task-master that produces strong emotions and reactions. I am grateful that I know how to recognize stress fairly quickly and can take positive steps to reduce and eliminate it from my life. I booked a massage in the next few days and also returned to my beloved garden, two of the best therapies for stress that I know work for me.
Since yesterday I have been enjoying a very special freedom. I was sick for the last two weeks. Some horrible bug of an influenza/bronchitis type just took hold of my body and shook it right down to its roots. I was knocked off my feet and spent about seven or eight days in bed followed by five or six days of tentatively, slowly getting back to “normal”. During that period I made three trips to the doctor.
I had no desire whatsoever to talk to people or to think about what I might be doing with my day. I had no desire to be doing anything with my day other than migrating from the bed to the couch and back again. I was totally worn out from terrible coughing spasms that wracked my body and made me wonder if I was about to cough my insides outside!!
It was only in the last couple of days, as I began to feel a small level of strength and a vague sense of wellness returning to my body, that I was able to admit to feeling a little annoyed about the disruption to my “normal” life, and the “waste of time”. It didn’t help to know that my husband was missing my misery as he travelled to – guess where? My beloved Italy!!
There was only one good thing about this period of sickness. For the first time ever I did not fight the bug. I was aware almost immediately that something bad had got me and instead of doing my usual heroics and resisting it and trying to carry on as usual, I let it have its way with me. I knew that whatever it was needed to take its course, so as soon as I realized it wasn’t going away after 48 hours, I got a doctor’s evaluation, medication, and took myself to bed.
I did all the right things. I stayed indoors neither exposing myself to other germs nor others to mine. As I said I spent over a week between bed and the couch. I drank gallons of liquid; water, juices, and lots of herbal teas duly sweetened with honey. I really took care of me and in doing so took care of others by non-contamination. I prayed a lot and asked God to heal me in His time.
I eventually went outside to run a small errand around day nine. Then I kept a doctor’s appointment and ran an errand on day ten. I ventured to the library, one more doctor appointment, and ran another errand on day eleven. I did not go wild and try and catch up on everything that I had had to let go of when I was struck down. By day twelve I felt almost back to “normal” and, joy of joy, I was able to take a wonderful motorcycle ride with my husband yesterday – day thirteen.
As I rode the back of the Harley on a gorgeous sun-filled, warm, day under a beautiful blue sky, I was filled with joy. My heart overflowed as I enjoyed my new-found freedom from sickness. I was free of the bug, I was free of being imprisoned in my home, confined to the bed and the couch. I was free to be outside in God’s glorious creation. I raised my hands to the skies and shouted “Thank you God, thank you, thank you!!”
I have learned a new appreciation through this experience. I have a whole new respect for the long-term sick person who is confined to bed, whether at home or in hospital. The sense of freedom that I enjoyed yesterday as we rode to Daytona has opened my eyes and my heart to what they must suffer on top of whatever health issue is keeping them imprisoned. So today I have a renewed awareness and heightened level of gratitude for the freedom that good health grants me.