What is that stuff?

Every now and then my husband and I (ooh hark at me sounding like the Queen) take ourselves off for a ‘date lunch’.  We like food, and it is good to spend a bit of quality time together now and then, so we find ourselves somewhere nice to go and pig out (it may be a date lunch, but we don’t stand on ceremony… well, we’ve been together for over thirty years now so we should just about be used to each other’s sloppy eating habits).   Yesterday we ended up in a really cosy pub, the log fires being just what we needed after being out in the gale force winds and unseasonal blizzard that suddenly appeared from nowhere.

All the food was yummy, as was the real Ale that we washed it down with, but what stood out for me was the chips.

Now, I’m not usually a big fan of chips.  They can be a bit soggy, or in French fry form, a bit burnt and over crispy.  I don’t have them often, but when I do, I drown them in salt and vinegar to give them some flavour, or if I’m feeling fancy, a bit of mayo a la Francais way.  I’m not a big fan of tommy k (tomato ketchup to you), so never that big red blob on my plate thanks.  Yesterday’s chips didn’t need anything though, they came ready seasoned and really crispy on the outside and soft in the middle (like an Armadillo as we say in our house…don’t ask… there was an advert once I think), 10 out of 10 for the chips then!

Of course, we ended up discussing what constitutes a ‘proper’ chip.  Do french fries count??

Anyhoo, what with the chips/French fry debate an’ all, it got me thinking about foods that aren’t like what their supposed to be, and how sometimes they are really yummy despite being completely weird and unrecognisable.  Like these goodies:

  • Tinned strawberries – now I don’t know what they were in a past life, but they look and taste nothing like the real thing. They are pink, sploshy and sweet.  Sometimes, I confess, I think they might be better than a freshly picked one that makes your mouth purse like a cat’s bottom because it’s a bit hard and tart or worse still, completely tasteless.
  • Pot noodles – does anyone know what that stuff is made from? Oh, I know what it says on the label – dried veggies and meat, but really? Nevertheless, who doesn’t love a naughty pot noodle from time to time? They are slurpily scrummy.
  • Vesta Chow Mein – I guess this is along the same lines as a Pot Noodle, being some sort of dried stuff with noodley thingys. But this is more of a meal. It’s crispy noodles a delight of crunchy oiliness, and it’s soft noodles, covered with the other…well, stuff, is again, a slurpers heaven.  Love it!
  • Crab Sticks – They are very pink. They are sticks.  They are not made of crab. I could eat ten of them in one sitting.  What more do you need to know?
  • Spam – Another pink food! Jellified meat that comes in a tin.  Sounds delicious doesn’t it? Spam is apparently ‘pressed pork and ham’, it tastes neither like pork nor ham, it tastes like Spam. It is amazingly versatile, in our house we have spam hash, spam kebabs, grilled spam, spam fritters, spam sandwiches…  I am a Spam fan. Many are not.
  • McDonalds fruit pies – Peculiar sort of sugary pastry stuff containing killer goo that will take the skin off your mouth and tongue unless you leave it for at least two hours to cool down. I think they are related to pop tarts. Yep, still good!
  • Cadbury’s Crème Eggs – Yes, it’s the time of year when all our thoughts turn to how many of these little devils we can stuff in our gobs before Easter. Hooray!! Chocolate ‘eggs’ filled with errmm…what is that stuff…?

These are just a few examples, off the top of my head, of weird yet wonderful foodstuffs that are filled with e-numbers and calories to start you salivating. I’m quite sure there are many more (I bet I think of them as soon as I press the post button!). I’d love to hear your favourites!

Fast but not that fast #2

So, we are on our third fast day.  Its actually ok.  If we get peckish we have a cup of fruit tea or oxo to take the edge off, and we really look forward to our light evening meal.  I think its doing us good already.

I looked in the mirror the other day and thought ‘blimey my skin is glowing nicely’.  Ok, I’d been out for a walk in the snow, which does tend to give you rosy cheeks, but my skin really did look clear and bright.  I can’t say I’d ever noticed any such thing before. I’m feeling quite energetic too – actually got the wii zumba out yesterday, something I usually think about doing but refrain from as being one of those things that may very well be the death of me.

It’s not all down to the fasting either.  The strange thing is that, although we really can eat and drink what we like the rest of the week, we have started eating healthier all the time.  We’ve eaten couscous and lentils, chickpeas, salads, great quantities of vegetables and fruit, with little or no meat.  In fact we’ve only eaten meat twice for over a week.  And no we are not vegetarians, nor are we ever likely to be.

Chris has even snubbed bread and biscuits in favour of a plate of couscous. (my world is upside down!)

Of course, there is a down side.  There is always a down side to everything.  The downside to the 5:2 fast diet is that the days seem endless.

Even when I’ve been really busy, I’ve always tried to stop and eat some lunch at some point.  At the weekends we’ve always sat down and gorged on a good lunch (though we don’t go down the traditional roast route as a rule) and then needed a rest afterwards – often in fact, a nap. Sunday lunch can take upwards of two hours – and that’s without the time spent in the kitchen cooking the thing.

This Sunday we sat and drank a cup of oxo, which took approximately five minutes. Not being over full our bodies don’t demand a shut down to digest, so no need of a nap.  I guess we ought to be pleased that the weekend seems longer. After all, we’ve always complained about them going quicker than weekdays.  But all the same, I miss that break.

Otherwise, so far, so good. I don’t know yet if its leading to any weight loss, but at least I feel better about myself.  Of course, I can’t guarantee we’ll stick with it for months, but I think maybe for a few more weeks. After all, one of the great things about it is that I can look at all the food in my kitchen, and know I can eat what I like tomorrow.

Only a few more hours left….


Busy doing nothing

‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans’

John Lennon wrote these words in his song ‘Beautiful Boy’ and of course, he’s absolutely right.

I’ve got myself a bit of a new job.  Just getting into it, so can’t yet comment on whether it is completely tedious, wonderful, or just meh.  What is, however, immediately apparent, is that I will be expected to attend some meetings.

Meetings are a fact of working life these days.  In my experience most meetings consist of people talking the talk, usually in circles, for hours on end, making a few wishy washy decisions, going home in gungho mood, and then forgetting the whole thing.  In reality nothing much gets achieved apart from a bit of back slapping, bit of naval gazing, bit of ‘thinking outside the box’, and perhaps a bit of ‘horizon scanning’. Could all  be done by email or telephone conference, would save me the two hour trek to London on the smelly train and then back again on the even smellier, rush hour, train.

Of course, there is the lunch.  Usually some curly sandwiches with unidentifiable fillings. Sometimes there is fresh fruit.  Which would be great if I were not such a messy eater who always, always, gets juice down her chin, on her top, on her papers. Worse still… sticky fingers on my ipad. So no, I don’t bother with the fruit.

While I’m on the subject of lunches at meetings, I should mention the horror that is the ‘standing up buffet’ that you get at conferences.

So it’s a hot lunch, usually ‘coronation chicken’ (or ‘sicky gloop’ which is my far more accurate name for it), rice, and a bit of limp salad. You are left holding a plate, your knife and fork, and a glass of cheap wine.  There is nowhere, nowhere, to sit, and you are supposed to be ‘networking’ with what might be important contacts.  How the hell are you supposed to eat without spilling something. Beats me. Sauce drips down your chin, you chase individual bits of rice around the plate until they fall over the edge on to the floor, the wine slops out of the glass, and It really is quite amazing how far a cherry tomato can travel when its mis-forked.

So anyway, back to my original beef.  Meetings.  How much more could we get done if we didn’t have meetings to attend.    Half the time, we are all so busy meeting up that there is no time to do the real work. We end up ploughing through emails in the evening, and catching up on paperwork at the weekends, leaving us no time for living our real lives.  You know, the one that we go to work to pay for.

So John if you’re listening,  these days perhaps the words to your song should be – Life is what happens to you while you’re busy being stuck in meetings.  That’s very sad don’t you think?