When is too much too much?

When it comes to food and drink I have to admit I love excess. Perhaps it comes from my childhood when we did not have a lot of money and I was often hungry. There were four of us brothers and sister and we would share one small tin of beans for our tea. Perhaps it come from my love of cooking for others – there is a generosity I love in providing more food and drink than is needed. I am very happy to eat keftovers so ‘too much” is not wasteful for me – just a kindness to my guests.

So when this milkshake was provided for one of my birthday treats last week, I could really appreciate it. Vanilla milkshake with Nutella, chocolate shavings, chocolate brownie, two ice cream sandwiches, and covered in chocolate sauce. I love milkshakes. I love ice-cream. I love chocolate. It is outstanding.

I knew it would be a challenge when my waiter told me “good luck”. But I like a challenge. And 30 minutes later my glass was empty.

I have to admit that after finishing, I felt a little unwell. The sugar rush was great but the come down afterwards left me slightly nauseous and drained of energy. Was this finally the occasion when too much was actually too much?

Well no. I loved the milkshake and in retrospect do not regret a single calorie. Probably once a year is enough but it was delicious.

Just call me Augustus Gloop.

What is your go to comfort food?

I had a couple of long days away from the boat this week to go to a funeral in the south of England. I stayed over with my son and he reminded me that when he was growing up I had introduced him to cheese and tomato on crackers, my “go to” comfort food. When I returned to the boat on Monday night, it was the first and only thing I wanted to eat.

These were introduced to me by my music teacher some 37 years ago. The original and best is a Jacob’s Cream Cracker, buttered lightly and with a slice of cheddar and a slice of tomato, with just a little salt. The ones in my photo from this week were a little posher, involving fancy crackers, and “Calverley Crunch” a vintage cheese from a canalside shop we found last week. I recommend them with a glass of gin and tonic, a glass of port, or just a cup of tea. At the end of a stressful day, when you can’t be bothered to cook, and you just want something homely, nothing is better.

What is your comfort food after a tough day? Maybe beans on toast? Or Doritos and Salsa from a jar? Or even a big bowl of cornflakes? Whatever it is, I bet it has as much to do with when you first ate it, as what is tastes like. Comfort food is about comforting memories removing all the stress of the moment. And it is a good thing.

I’d love to hear in the comments what your choice would be. Let me know.

Why is great food bad for you?

I have indigestion. Last night I had a delicious meal that my son cooked – spicy chicken and chorizo wraps. I really enjoyed the food, and devoured three filled wraps while watching an episode of “Lewis”, a British detective series. This morning I am feeling the after effects of so much chilli. Why is it that the best food and drink is not good for me?

I love spicy food, but my guts disagree. I love heavy red wines, but they give me a headache. I love bowls of rich ice cream and plates of cakes, but they make me fat.

Of course I have seen all those virtuous people on social media, extolling the benefits of living on fruit juice, celery and tofu. And I can enjoy a salad as much as the next man. But when it is a cold miserable evening in the middle of February, I want comforting food that makes me feel good in the moment.

I understand the science. Two things are working against me. The first is that thousands of years of evolution have taught us humans that fat, sugar and intoxicants are rare commodities to be enjoyed when you can find them. The second is that during 57 years of life I have been bombarded with messages from adverts, parents and friends, extolling how such food is a reward and makes you feel great.

I even understand how theoretically I can change my view. Because my mind has been programmed to like bad food, it can be reprogrammed to avoid them, and seek out the healthy.

But I guess the problem is the same as an addict coming off cigarettes or stronger drugs. It will never happen until they really want to make the change. And I really do love the bad stuff. So while I have a sore tummy this morning, I would very happily have a curry and a beer tonight.

It is all about choices. I choose to love my exercise. But I also choose to love eating bad stuff.

Am I stupid?

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