Learning To Love Cooking and Eating

How’s your relationship with food?

Mine’s been a life time of ups and downs. I’ve gone from battling allergies as a child along with fussy eating, to trying out every kind of omission in my ‘diet’.

And ugh, that word – ‘diet’.

I was raised on basic peasant goodness, some of which didn’t agree with me or I didn’t like – homemade yoghurt and sauerkraut. Oh yowzer I hear everyone shout, fermented food is good for you!

It is for me, now. But around fifty to forty years ago it wasn’t.

As a teenager I learnt to manipulate the art of eating. I was a flakey, moody kinda teen who soon discovered they were polycystic and felt ruled by their hormones.

This hormonal hold was stronger than my resolve, and I went in to my 20’s spending a lot of time in endocrinology, treated, investigated. I maintained good weight though throughout.

Then I slid. Now in my 50’s, and three years post-MI, having lost weight, I’m back to battling with eating food – loving it that is, the weight has absolutely stayed off. I knew I had to tackle this mind/body thing though.

It’s as simple as this, I think. I’m not sure I understand how to love food, or my body.

I accept there have been all kinds of trials in my life from early years, but I don’t like being beaten by food. I acknowledge that the relationship my mother had with my step father and his treatment of her, angered me throughout my childhood and into my adult life. I became a woman whose mission was to rescue women and children from that experience.

My mother’s way of dealing with his beastly words and behaviour was to care relentlessly and this was through cooking sometimes. I on the other hand, was all for poisoning the mad bastard! (Therein lies a good tale of crime to write!).

But I found Italy (again) and started to believe there was an answer in there, somewhere, so I read and read all things Italian.

After seeing a tweet by chef Jack Munro about how Nigella’s book How To Eat transformed her eating and relationship with food I decided to get it out of the library.

It’s one big book filled predominantly with words, which surprised me. I always saw Nigella Lawson as a tv cook who lured people in to watching her programmes with her dulcet voice, as she happily scoffed leftovers of her recipes at midnight.

By eck, the chef can write!

I’ve poured over the book during the last few weeks and soaked in her words, her love for cooking and eating.

Just one quote here from the Low Fat chapter (which is brilliant), there are many I could pull out from the pages:

‘I don’t disparage the shallow concerns of the ordinarily vain, which, after all, I share. What I hate is all this new-age voodoo about eating, the notion that foods are either harmful or healing, that a good diet makes a good person and that the person is necessarily lean, limber, toned and fit. Quite apart from anything else, I don’t see the muscular morality argument. Why should a concern for your physical health be seen as a sign as virtue? Such a view seems to me in danger of fusing Nazism (with its ideological cult of physical perfection) and Puritanism (with its horror of the flesh and belief in salvation through denial.)’

There’s more of course, much more, in this book that is meaningful, healing and full of love about food – a healthy kind of love. Nigella took what was good from her childhood and put it out there. She has also shared her bad times too. We can do both, I believe and come out on top.

 

The Birthday Chocolatier

I hoped to treat myself to a hot chocolate, but time slipped by whilst caught up in a morning meeting. On the way home I called in to a chocolatier. Sitting on the corner of a beautiful Victorian sandstone building with large arch windows, it seemed opulent through the glass. I assumed its speciality was Belgian or such like. I avoided it for months.

Then I stepped inside.

I was wrong!
I was in Turkish nirvana!
The assistant explained to me. Everything was from Turkey.
I pointed at her djezma on a shelf, which had a base like an electric kettle. And all the little coffee cups, prava kafa in sachets.
Yes, there was Delight too and special sumptuous dates.
I told her it was my birthday and I was treating myself.
She asked what I did.
I said I wrote sometimes.
She told me her life story.

A young woman with four sons, who had survived abuse as a child, from her father, her mother’s partner, care homes, her partner. She’d been through the mill she said, but she was as okay as she could be. She became Muslim and it helped her to find stability and security.

I told her I once worked at Women’s Aid and she said that the organisation was her lifeline, helping her flee and resettle.
I wanted to hug her, but she was on the other side of the counter. So I put my hand out to her and she took it.
You’re okay now, I said. I am, she replied.
She gave me a birthday treat and I bought a beautiful wooden egg with small praline eggs  inside.
Poignant really, am also reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris again.
I’ll go back for gifts.
Time came for the bus home.

Don’t walk past the chocolatier, there’s more than cocoa inside.

New Year’s Resolution or Revolution!

It’s in between time. Almost New Year. Easy to get lost in a no man’s land of dreams for the future, reflecting on the past. All the daily drama of a ridiculous power fight seem a long time ago and soon will be part of last year’s story. If I have a NYR it is this – before saying anything, let it pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? !!

Letting go is an interesting thing. I read recently in the British Heart Foundation magazine an article by a woman who, like me, had to alter her life so much so that many friends disappeared. It seems that it’s not possible to be interesting enough if one doesn’t partake in alcohol consumption in order to socialise. Although I’ve never been a serious or heavy drinker, I am more aware now than ever, just how much alcohol has played a role in my life, in culture, in work. Be a part or miss out. It now feels like so much time has been lost to the dramas that alcohol induces in people, those strange behaviours. But it’s best to leave it all behind.

I wonder too if people are afraid of someone with heart failure. Which is ridiculous and laughable. If we haven’t learned to face death as  mature adults through losing significant others, then we are  truly in greater trouble than the person in front of us fuelled by medications! I am not feart of the future or any person. Things are different now – that is all.

I’m using this precious time to write a second book, research and create a piece of art for my second OCA assignment, connect with new people similar of situation, playing with needle felting, embroidery and felt. The love of colour, art, yarn, books, sustains me day to day.

Then there are dreams of far away places. Keep making, writing, dreaming.

Healthy hearty cuisine – today’s is coleslaw (some have said my coleslaws are epic!) – adding cranberries (dried), walnuts, apple, to cabbage, carrot and red onion. Zero-fat yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, pepper. Enjoy the zing and crunch!

Felt Acorns via Pinterest