Food, Sex, and smoked Eels.
It is curious how we are drawn to food especially on how it looks. Was it always like that? I can’t remember my mum having cook books or reading about food. She simply cooked nourishing food within her means. Within her means was very difficult during and even after the war. Food, costs generally speaking, money, except for those that grow their own. However, as their income grew, so did the intake of more expensive food and from hardly ever eating meat, it came to eating it perhaps twice a week and the boring brown beans turned into witlof, leeks and carrots..
Has anyone ever succeeded in growing their own not being a farmer? We tried on our farm to grow our own but were beaten back by the near impossibility of it. The exceptions were rocket and silver-beet and the first year lots of strawberries. We had rain then.
In Holland during school years most students would at some stage be given a small bit of communal ground on which, for just one season, we would grow edibles, either green or even pinky red coloured. I remember riding my bicycle home with a bag of potatoes strapped on the back. My mother was ecstatic. Apart from spuds, I grew lettuces, carrots and some kind of green stuff looking like grass. It was spicy and on sandwiches delicious, especially with some sugar sprinkled on it. One could keep snipping it and it would be harvestable again the next week. It was a kind of cress but was not grown in water. Perhaps it was rocket except it looked more like grass.
When arriving here, growing anything was challenging. I can still see Dad, all red faced and perspiring hacking away at the unforgiving hard soil in suburban Sydney’s Revesby with Dutch coarse oaths renting the still air. It was so hard and I’ll never forget his efforts in trying to grow something to supplement my mum’s cooking. I doubt the growing of food was ever a success. If it wasn’t for the hard soil, it would be drought, insects or birds eating all. He bought all sorts of poisons and sprays, even scaffolding for the fruit trees carefully inspecting all the apples for worms etc. At one stage he prepared scaffolding decked out with planks around one fruit tree which he would climb into and peer inside the thousands of flowers to look for fruit flies. He was that determined. He spent ours perched on top of that scaffolding. Poor dad, he did really try so hard.
We have achieved quite a good herb garden here in Bowral but have done this through containing all the herbaceous plants within the borders of two timber boxed. We pre-filled the boxes with good friable top soil and copious cow manure. This is so much easier to control and water. Milo, our Jack Russell, of course keeps the birds away.
Now-a-days, food and cooking are very different and elevated to an art form. Brown beans have disappeared. Whole libraries are devoted to cookery books. As some wit stated, anyone who eats three times a day understands perfectly well why cookery books sell three times more than sex books.
For some eating has replaced sex as their favorite pastime. You can’t pick a fight with your boeuf tartar nor is it likely that this dish would take your home and kids in a bitter and protracted divorce fight.
I can’t remember ever seeing people in the past eating while moving about. Now the fact of putting food in a mouth seems to encourage the body into a forward locomotion onto the streets and even crossing traffic lights, but as yet have not seen any doing it in reverse. I have even seen driving and eating. One hand is stuffing the mouth which is masticating wildly from side to side, the other on the wheel with similar sideway movements. Women don’t generally eat while driving but do stroke their hair or eyelashes.
However, it wasn’t totally unknown for people to also eat while having sex. That apparently has been the norm for centuries. I have seen with my own eyes in Pompeii a fresco with a reclining gladiator on a sword holiday wearing a Roman toga fornicating languidly and casually while calmly eating bunches of grapes at the same time.
A good friend of mine told me his wife loved taking small bunches of smoked eels to bed which she would devour in between their entanglements. The husband preferred smoking a cigar. The only place where cooked food is more dangerous than sex is in Britain whose greatest contribution to its cuisine has been the chip. I was told that if you believe mussels increase your libido with an enduring and endlessly lasting tumescence, to always make sure you don’t put them on too soon.
With women, always a bit tricky at the best of times, it is often romance that is more important than food. Nothing is more romantic than having a pair of new shoes as well as breakfast in bed. With men shopping is often a bit like sex, after five minutes of it they get tired and walk out of the shop.
In the meantime we all plod along the best we can. The choice is as always, make the best of this round world that spins around trying to shake you off. We cling and hold on, grasping at anything that we might find nourishing, gives us a bit of security. And that happens to includes food. Keep hanging on in there folks!
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