Tuesday, 20 October 2009
help please - the next day of the rest of my life
My usually cast iron stomach is no more, and I have been mourning my loss.
At present, my diverse investigation into foods of the world has been interrupted, and my own body is doing the interrupting. I have scarcely recovered from the news that I have to exclude all things nightshade from my diet. This has now been augmented by my body's sudden aversion to meat, fat, dairy products, sugar and (almost worse) alcohol. To be honest I am not sure that the alcohol bit is entirely necessary so I will do some tests - for the sake of science, mind you - to challenge this theory next week. In the meantime though, all of the above means that I have suddenly become a vegetarian, no fat, gluten free teetotaller.
I'm not sure yet what I make of this change, it is really too early to say. On the plus side, I feel a lot better than I have done for months and I am looking forward to fitting into clothes that haven't seen daylight for a while! On the negative side, at first glance, almost everything that I enjoy for both nutritional and purely pleasurable purposes, is now denied me.
The effects of this are immediate. At work I am struggling to be able to taste the recipes that it is my job to design so I am having to learn to work in a whole new way. I have to be very careful how I taste products, and spitting a sample (so beloved of supermarket buyers everywhere) does not permit you to experience the the flavours & textures of a products in the same way as swallowing. At home, the enjoyment that I used to get from baking and creating sweet treats is no more, and in its' place is a new challenge I face (at least) 3 times a day - what on earth am I going to eat?
I am concious that this makes me appear incredibly boring and almost painful to other people, especially chefs and food bloggers. It is very difficult to imagine that such a restricted diet can be interesting - or, even more importantly, delicious. I know that I have tended towards to deafness when I met someone with 'too many' allergies, simply because it is dificult to understand the pleasure of eating when so much is forbidden. My immediate response was to feign deafness to myself and pursue a monotomous diet of rice noodles. It is probably a good thing that my body decided that wasn't an option for me. So I find myself with a real challenge. I am used to eating good food: fresh, locally sourced, tasty, flavoursome. Bounty and balance abound in my kitchen; sugar tempers acidity; a touch of oil or cream to balance a sauce and create a delicious rounded mouthful of food. It is going to be harder to create the same feelings of pleasure and satisfaction but it is a challenge I have to embrace if I want to enjoy my food.
On the weekend I will be going to visit my sister-in-law for a week. A week in the south of France is extremely pleasurable under normal circumstances so I feel a bit peevish for being wary of our upcoming visit. French chefs are not reknown for their welcome to even gluten-free customers, but I think this will make me positively unpopular, if not un-servable. I do still have to eat, somehow. Simple fish dishes, fresh local oysters, vegetables and salads are still on my menu, I can take crackers instead of bread, fresh fruit for dessert - maybe I won't be too unpopular. Home cooked meals will be a breeze in comparison, though I have to find something to replace the cheese and charcuterie with tomatoes which comprise our usual picnic choices.
Next week notwithstanding, I welcome my new diet with open arms. I thank my lucky stars that this has happened to me in Autumn. Squashes, beetroot, fresh ginger root and seaweeds feature in my diet daily & thankfully I can enjoy them all. I am delighted to have introduced umeboshi vinegar to my kitchen and already wonder how I ever lived without it. Seeds and gentle spices which were previous overlooked unless for curry powders, now feature in my daily diet and tofu in many guises is making regular appearances on my plate.I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep up my childish enthusiasm for the new and unknown but I do remember feeling just as excited the first time I ate Chinese foods; my taste for that cuisine has not faltered yet, so I have high hopes for my new diet too!
If you have any recipes or tips for creating a more exciting diet, please comment below - I am going to need all the help I can get!
I'm dreaming of eating... don't even ask!