Saturday, 6 December 2014

Eating habits.

In the bread shop this morning a customer was saying that, although she likes bread, she can only eat very little as she immediately puts weight on. The bread shop lady at once declared, "El pan no engorda." Well, I suppose she would say that, wouldn't she. If you sell bread for a living, you don't want to go round saying it puts weight on. In her opinion, it's not so much the bread as what you out on it. And in the case of her customer, someone she clearly knows well, she said it was probably her medication that made her put weight on, no matter how little she ate. The lady in question was not even particularly fat but, as she said, it's when you have clothes in the wardrobe that no longer fit properly that you feel you have a problem. 

This eating business can cause all sorts of problems. 

Yesterday evening I was reading about something called a durian. It's some kind of fruit that is so spiky it looks a bit like a green hedgehog. 

The writer of the article was at the Woodstock fruit festival in upstate New York. They were waiting, apparently for a delivery of this strange fruit. When it arrived, the crowd of people went mad to get it. Our hero was more restrained. Here's an extract of what he had to say: "When the crowd thinned I approached one of the carts. The durians that were left were smaller, less plump, and still somewhat frozen. I lifted one up gingerly by the netting and carried it over to a table. The more experienced durian eaters told me to “find the weak spot and start digging there”, but as I turned the durian over all I saw were strong spots covered in small sharp points. Eventually a stranger came over to help me out. He had a huge red beard and wore a T-shirt that said “VEGAN”. He flipped the fruit over and pointed out the seam, an invisible line at which the spikes of the durian began to part in opposite directions. When he put his thumbs on either side of the seam, the creaturely fruit popped open. Under his expectant eyes, I dug three fingers into the belly of the freezing-cold fruit and shovelled it up into my mouth. It tasted like custard and sour banana and very, very strongly like onion. “You like it?” he asked, and I nodded and made a couple of high-pitched positive sounds. When he left I gave away the remaining three-quarters of my durian to a group of people who had already demolished their fourth. My fingers smelt of cold egg and onion, and I was tired and still hungry." Somehow it doesn't sound like my kind of fruit at all. A little bit food-faddy! 

The argument goes on about what you should or shouldn't eat. I think I could probably survive on a total fruit diet but there are so many good things I would miss. During the fruit festival there were support group meetings for people having problems! Support groups!!! I ask you! But when you join this sort of thing you have to go the whole hog ( wrong expression for the food types under discussion) and swear off all other things. One woman talked about missing coffee in terms that recovering alcoholics perhaps talk about missing alcohol. ' “I have come here,” she said in a soft Russian accent, “to talk about coffee. I miss coffee so bad here. I know it is bad for me, but it was like a friend.” The circle of seated women made quiet, sympathetic sounds as the Russian woman softly wept.' Slightly crazy, as is everything in excess. 

I can to some extent understand the appeal of such extreme "diets" though. The writer talked about being introduced to fruitarianism by a friend who came to stay and began her visit by consuming huge quantities of grapes and telling her that eating nothing but fruit was great. "She had been on a fruit-based diet for just a couple of months, but was already reporting astounding changes: an end to the stomach pains that had troubled her for years; bursting, glowy levels of energy; sharpened concentration; happiness. “I love it,” she told me. “It’s like the whole world is made of delicious, dripping sugar.” Her diet didn’t sound safe, but my friend looked well. She buzzed with intense wellbeing and her skin looked enviably great, although she took frequent naps." It's very appealing.

I can remember once being persuaded into macrobiotic vegetarianism in much the same way by a French friend whose energy levels were so high and who seemed really well on her diet. It worked for me too but I did get a bit bored with it. And I suspect that my French friend would have been like that anyway just because of her metabolism. 

I also remember the husband of a friend, back in the 1980s, deciding that he was allergic to so many things in modern life that he was going on a detox diet. Yes, a DETOX diet! He lived on potatoes - mostly boiled but occasionally baked because of you roasted or fried them you added other stuff - for some time and gradually introduced other food items. At one point he was eating so many carrots that his skin started to turn orange with all the carotene. Then they moved away and I never found out what happened to his allergies. 

Anyway, that's enough extremism. We are off to Pontevedra to eat lots of seafood!

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