Posts Tagged ‘Mussels’

Man with a Coke and 5 KM a day

May 11, 2021


IMG_1711Onion soup

Onion soup (almost)

To try and make the day as fruitful as possible I usually go and shop daily. If not to Aldi’s Supermarket then to a Food-mall. Today’s visit to Aldi delivered the usual reward which often goes together with being alert.  I had filled my bag with some smoked sliced Tuna, two bananas, two boxes of paper tissues and a packet of green snappy beans. Today, I also went to the food hall and treated myself on a take away garlic, soya beef with rice.

But sticking to the Aldi shop and the satisfying experience. As I queued up near the shopping conveyer belt, I noticed a strange event involving a rather forbidden looking male. Most ‘forbidden’ looking people are often males. He was wearing a helmet, a scarf around his neck, sunglasses and a face mask. He was obvious very worried about getting contaminated by other shoppers. One could not see much of his face. He was tall and of normal build and carrying a backpack. If anything he looked almost athletic. So far so good, all is normal and still within the range of acceptance! However his total purchase was a medium bottle of Coke for which he was queuing. To my overt critical mind it looked a bit odd.

Why does a man so cloaked and in obvious deliberate incognito garb go through the trouble just to buy a Coke? He looked fit. Do fit people drink Coke? Anyway, as he reached the end of the queue the cashier asked him to open his backpack. The masked man obliged and there was nothing to worry about. No stolen goods nor a hand grenade. He paid by card! As I finished paying for my goods, I went outside and noticed the incognito male jump on a bicycle. Normal! Still, a bottle of Coke? Fitness. It doesn’t add up.

After that experience I walked to the food court to get a lunch which I often buy from a Chinese take away. His food includes a very generous supply of half raw pan fried vegetables. I chose beef with fried rice with the vegetables. So, really a good deal. I eat half and refrigerate the rest for next day or sometimes have it for dinner. Sadly, as the years go by, I notice the stealthy rise of bigger and large people and alarmingly, including now young overweight people, even children in those food halls. Fat shaming doesn’t do much but neither does ignoring. Many countries more progressive than Australia at least try and tackle the problem by education and taxing sugar, ban TV advertisements promoting unhealthy foods. Those food malls give a good idea of where we are heading when nothing gets done. More and more end up in wheelchairs. Diabetes and amputations. Not a cheerful prospect. Coke has a lot to answer for!



Any possible adverse results from my habit of take away Chinese food I alleviate by aiming to walk at least 5 Kms daily. If by about 9 PM I haven’t made the 5 Km I just walk around my generously sized lounge, dining and kitchen areas which gives me 48  meters each round. I keep walking till I have reached a bit over 5 kms recognizing that a step might be somewhat less than a meter.

My Jack Russell, ‘Milo’ looks worried.



The lost Train Ticket

December 16, 2013


While most of the world is now in panic about obesity, many years ago the reverse was at play. Many victims of the last WW2 were underweight. Especially children. It was a battle then to put weight on.

“Gerard is too skinny, Mrs Oosterman, you must send him away. There is a family in South Belgium who have volunteered to try and feed-up the chronically undernourished,” doctor advised. “They are well off with plenty of food. “Gerard must put on weight. He is malnourished”. The years of potato peelings soup and limp water porridge wasn’t enough.

I can’t remember this precise conversation. It must have been something like that though. My mother often told me that the doctor was scared I would not survive. It was after 1945 with the war over. By the end of the war there were tens of thousands of children whose level of malnourishment was so severe, a national programme was set up to help those unable to regain normal weight and health. I and my brother Frank were both considered in the category of needing fattening up.

I remember my mother putting me on the train and she also impressed on me not to lose my ticket which she told me many times, “it is in your top jacket’s pocket.” She showed me. I was put in a train cabin which was one in a series of cabins with a corridor running alongside them. She asked the adult passengers to make sure I would get off at the destined station and also showed them where my ticket was to show the conductor and the border control. ( I was travelling on my own to another country) My mother had three other children to look after and perhaps no money for her own ticket. My father was working in another city. Anyway, I travelled on my own.

My memories are scant except for this dreaded nightmare of my life. When the conductor came along, my ticket was gone. I searched all my pockets. The passengers searched my pockets. The conductor searched as well. No ticket. It was gone. I cried, sobbed was lost myself. I had lost my ticket, my life. No mother around. I still have that fear of loss. I had lost my ticket. I must have been put off the train at the right station in Belgium. The Belgian French speaking people would have picked me up. I can’t remember.

The memories of my stay in the southern part of Belgium are rather scarce. I loved the mussels. I still see a huge saucepan filled with steaming pink-orange coloured mussels. It is the only food I remember from that time in Belgium. The other lovely memory was of a crepe paper fan that was attached between two flat sticks. When you held the sticks a little apart and waved it down quickly, a most amazing patterned and colourful world would open up. If you closed the two sticks together again, the paper pattern would fold back. It was my first introduction to pure magic. I spend days with this fan in a large garden… I could not understand French nor their Flemish-Dutch. The garden had apple trees. I ate real apples. I was inconsolable when this paper fan of magic finally broke. A second loss, and no mother.

The mussels greatly made up for that loss. The family also gave me a bike to ride on. They must have taught me. I can’t remember. But the proof is in that picture. It was a large house and my room was upstairs. I can see my bed which was left of the door.

The French speaking Belgian family wrote my parents updates over the few months that I stayed with them. I was doing well and had gained 300 grams after the first three weeks, they wrote to my mother. “Gerard is very brave,” they wrote. I still have that card. It was also when I learned to speak French which my parents could not understand on my return.

I am now a good 78 kilos and never go without my ticket.

When I see a film I clutch the ticket in my hands during the entire performance. I keep checking where my passport is and get quite annoyed when I lose something. H. has a hard job keeping me calm and not panic. I am not sure if it is related. Odd, how such an event could possibly keep one from being a bit more normal. I don’t easily give up fretting when something is temporarily missing. H. keeps saying it is NOT lost. She says don’t FEED your anxiety. The Allen key or ‘special’ bit of written note, your glasses will turn up. Don’t worry so much, she says with so much care and love.

Yes, true, but I lost my ticket. It was so long ago.

Food,Sex, and smoked Eels.

December 17, 2012


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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