I love food.
No, I mean, I really love food.
And boy, does food love me. We have what I’m sure a lot of psychiatrists would call an ‘unhealthy relationship’. It’s generally all or nothing with us. I am the kind of person who could happily go a month without eating chocolate, only to sit down on the 32nd day and demolish an entire block. I often wish I could be like those people who can eat one or two squares a day, in fact, I try this with almost every block of chocolate I buy. I rationalise, I reason, I hide it in different places in the kitchen in the vain hope that I will forget where I hid it. Not a chance.
It’s not just chocolate though. I can pig out on pretty much anything you can throw at me. A bowl of fruit has no chance in my house, it’s cleaned out within a day. Leftovers? Breakfast. Dried seaweed? The same.
I think that most of this problem, ok, fine, all of this problem, stems from my love of reading. What the heck? I hear you ask. How can you blame overeating on books?
But it’s true. Ever since I first learnt to read, I enjoyed nothing more than to sit down with a good book and a little something to nibble on. I grew up in a household with a mother who is an incredible cook; we never went without home-made cookies, jams, dried fruit, pasta, sauces, relishes, cakes, ice-cream and so on. There was always something home-made and delicious to snack on, so often I would raid the kitchen before heading out to the paddock with my bundle of books in tow.
‘Head out to the paddock’. I sound like a cow.
But that’s what I did. It got to the point where I could barely sit down for a delicious reading session without something equally delicious to eat. And vice versa. I would almost get bored with eating unless I had a fantastic book in my hand. I used to infuriate my mother and father by bringing books to the table, or taking my breakfast, lunch or dinner away to a quiet little spot where I could read uninterrupted. It was heaven.
As I got older life got in the way of these little reading/eating indulgences; there were often people around who actually wanted a conversation with me over a meal. The cheek. So often I would make excuses and hole up in my room for days on end with a supply of food and a stack of books, giving myself over to the absolute decadence of a literary/gastronomic pig out. Sometimes I would be on a health food kick and eat endless carrots, celery sticks and apples while trudging my way through Trotsky’s Anna Karenina or Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, other times it would be a bag of chips or a block of chocolate while speed reading Jane Green’s Spellbound or Cathy Kelly’s She’s The One.
Give me a book with a lot of good eating in it, and I’m done. No matter whether I am hungry or not, the merest mention of a meal in a book is enough to see me scurrying for the pantry or fridge, hoping desperately that we have a similar blue cheese to the one Anthony Bourdain talks about in Kitchen Confidential. Or something resembling a petit four that will satisfy my cravings bought about by Imogen Edwards-Jones’ Hotel Babylon. And don’t get me started on Steve Dublanica’s Waiter Rant. I’ll be eating pasta for days.
It is probably my biggest indulgence, this food/book combination. It’s something that I have always kept hidden, something that would have those diet and lifestyle coaches rubbing their hands together with glee. This ingrained habit will take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix! I can hear them exclaiming in delight. But I guess that’s the thing. I have finally come to terms with this terrible habit of mine, and I have no desire to change it. There are few things in this world that I enjoy more than sitting down with a good book and something tasty to eat. And, now that I’m a ‘grown-up’, (despite the fact that I spent an entire day last week reading every book in the Anne of Green Gables series), these indulgent little sessions are often coupled with a nice big glass of something tasty to drink. I’m drinking a glass of white wine right now. Doesn’t that make you want one?
So there it is, this annoying little addiction of mine that I have no intention of shaking. And yes, I am a few kilograms heavier than my ‘ideal’ weight, but I am just not giving this up for anyone.
So that being said, I am about to go finish my glass of wine on the balcony in the sun, Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap in one hand, bowl of roasted salted pistachios in the other. May have to go for a 10k walk tomorrow.
I hope your Saturday afternoon, whenever you get to it, is just as pleasant. Sit down and indulge yourself in your favourite book and your favourite snack. And hey, why not pour yourself a glass of your favourite drink while you’re at it.
Then let me know what you’re drinking, reading and eating. I’m going grocery shopping tomorrow. I need ideas.
Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.
– C.S. Lewis.