Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Life by Food Phases

I think I might have written about food phases before, but it was a while ago and I bet no one can remember, so I feel free to write about them again.

I do not have an obsessive personality but I do go through phases of only wanting to eat one thing. Not that I succumb necessarily because that would be Giving In and we all know that the little devil that sits on our shoulder inciting us to do Things We Are Not Supposed To (such as eating only one thing) has to be kept in check. It's called Self-Control which is not terribly à la mode these days, but I was brought up proply loik so I have bags of the stuff.

Because I go through these phases at specific times in my life, they end up by have by having particular associations too, which is quite a handy way of remembering certain stages of one's life.

If we forget the chocolate 'Minstrels' phase I had as a teenager... although now that I think of it, I am reminded of my friend from that era, Georgina, who lived three doors down who subsequently married a great fan of golf, moved to near a lunatic asylum and told me of scary moments finding inmates peering in through her back door which she kept permanently locked. Her husband was no good, leaving her a golfing widow and when she'd had enough, she divorced him for a man who did not play golf (of which there are many).

My next phase was cooking apple purée which I ate in my second year at university although I'm not sure this wasn't as a result of the paucity of my grant to a real desire to eat apple purée. I would make it and take it in a tupperware-type box to university in my cavernous Barbour pocket. The other pocket would contain a sandwich if, for example, my parents had made a recent visit and stocked up the fridge. Is that violins I can hear???

When I first arrived in France (1989), I lived in Clermont-Ferrand and was making a paltry wage teaching English. For a change, when I had a free day, I would accompany schoolchildren on the train to Paris on the first leg of their exchange trip to the UK. My ticket was paid for, and I could come back on the train of my choice. This meant I was able to stay in Paris for several hours, and I took advantage of this by visiting all the major galleries and museums. My lunch consisted of a finely grated emmental cheese sandwich made on a baguette, with butter. I would find a nice bench with a good view and enjoy a picnic in Paris for free, and I really looked forward to my sarnie.

When we moved down to Montpellier, I was still teaching English and therefore sometimes had free time during the day. I remember deciding to read 'Dracula' and as it was totally gripping, made as simple a lunch as possible - peanut butter sandwiches on a baguette. It was my favourite kind - Sainsbury's chunky whole nut, sugar-free, and I loved the stuff. Still do, actually. I cannot think of Dracula now without associating the book with peanut butter sarnies.

My latest food phase is ploughman's lunch. I have some mature cheddar from the UK, and my favourite lunch at the moment is a hunk of it with Branston pickle, salad - especially those sweet Lezignan onions, and a nice loaf. I have to restrain myself, of course, because once the cheddar is gone, there's no popping back for more! I don't know what the association will be yet, however. Maybe just that it's summer. My winter cheese phase is often camembert au lait cru with chicory leaves, apple, and walnuts. Every lunch I have it.

I didn't have any food phases when pregnant strangely enough, but for my first son, I gave up drinking tea as I was pretty earnest about being with child, and drank hot chocolate instead. It was an imposed phase, that one. By the second, I'd decided the sacrifice was too great.

Tea - the greatest phase of them all!


  1. We're fortunate in being just a 5 minute walk from a famous British grocery store in Antibes, so the essential mature Cheddar fix is catered for. Some folk drive 50 miles or more to stock up on the Cheddar, Marmite, marmalade, shredded wheat etc.

    The French do some great cheeses, but nothing to match the immensely satisfying taste of mature Cheddar. One of life's disciplines is giving it time to chambré before loading it onto those brand-name cream crackers (also available at our shop).

    Incidentally, the picture on Colin R's current post labelled Marché Provençal is in fact that of Antibes. Good cheeses can be had there too, but not you know what.

  2. You comment makes me think of 'A Grand Day Out' with Wallace and Gromit, in search of the perfect cheese holiday. After watching it, my sons asked me in all seriousness if the moon really was made of cheese...

  3. From time to time one has to remind certain folk that "one cannot prove a negative", eg in trying to convince that one is not this or that anonymous contributor to a blog.

    Pre-1969 one would have been able to add, by way of illustration:

    "eg one cannot prove that the moon is NOT made of green cheese"

    So Armstrong not only added to our language ("one small step etc") but in a sense took away too.

    You win some, you lose some ...

  4. If I could - and I don't suppose anyone's stopping me although I'd probably die of a heart attack if I did - I would eat cheese, cheese, cheese all day long. I'd eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in-between. Just can't get enough.

    When I was in Nigeria, some engineers living in a (relatively) nearby town, sent a whole Stilton down to the little village I lived in, for my birthday...they'd had it flown from England especially...People often give me cheese as a birthday present, actually.

    During my first pregnancy, I ate two half-baguette roquefort sandwiches every day. Even now, when I'm definitely not pregnant, despite my huge tummy, I get irresistible urges for crottins de Chavignol and pecorino pepato and I just have to satisfy them.

    Mind you, peanut butter comes a very close second, Sarah - especially the crunchy kind.

  5. I phase on eating comté 12mois a couple of years ago too. Comté sarnies for lunch every day.

    It's partly laziness because you don't have to think about what to prepare if you know you're just going to throw together a cheese sarnie. It does a decent toasted cheese sarnie too for when it's cold.


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