THE SUGAR BLUES

MY NEW FINAL CAFE AVE MARIA: Very nice stuff here including mushroom rissois & veg cutlets!

BY TARA NARAYAN

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

IF one is in one’s 60s and wooing better health parameters life can become a nightmare! Increasingly, it takes very little to trigger off my nightmares and a friend says I need to be institutionalized because I obsess so much about food…well, I have nothing to say to that except ignore it.
But do you know, it is a fact that when I go for a fortnight without eating sugary stuff, wheat-based stuff, rice and fryums…I do actually feel better and my knees ache less? So the frustration is why can’t I keep it up forever after? These days I’m asking myself is it lifestyle and infrastructure or is just me unable to swing the changes of a more rewarding kind? (Sigh) It’s an ongoing dilemma.
But this much is true. Speaking for myself I do tend to eat emotionally with the waxing and waning of my thoughts. When I’m happy I eat more conscientiously, when unhappy I go out looking for all the salty, sugary, oily, spicy food I can find here, there and everywhere! All the kind of food which sends my much abused gut into a tizzy and a mood to punish me…it’s no longer funny how I end up eating what I don’t want to eat just because I can’t find what I want to eat! And have no energy to fix what I want to eat at home!
Lately I’ve been eating out like crazy and all over again suffering from sugar blues, triggered off after I forced myself to finish this fat hazelnut chocolate pastry just because my favourite mushroom rissois was not available at Truffles, nor my veggie cutlet stuffed in what is called a “hamburger” at my new favourite Café Ave Maria…see what I mean? In the beginning I used to buy the veggie burger, chuck the sweet white bun bread, relish the veggie cutlet. Then dear Ashley at Café Ave Maria (en route to the Taleigao market, said it was okay, I could buy just a packet of frozen six veggie cutlets if I wanted to, at home I would de-frost, sizzle a cutlet in bit butter or olive oil and serve atop a salad of fine-sliced tangy onion relish or a more exotic one depending on whether I have an avocado or not.
Avocado butter can take the place of dairy butter any day — when I see avocado I really feel happy! Peel skin, remove creamy golden green flesh and mash, stir in chopped spring onions/mint/celery (whatever herb you wish), rock salt and grated black pepper, not to forget lots of fresh lemon juice…bit honey. Hey, put a veggie cutlet or fish cutlet atop it and eat! Café Ave Maria also has the most delectable fish cutlets.
BUT one mid-morning when hunger pangs struck I couldn’t find something I’d value at any of my favourite places in town and ended up trying to finish this hazelnut pastry and was quite sick afterwards! I knew I was inviting my sugar blues, it means one is conscious that one is indulging in carb or carbohydrates to the point of suicide, but I have been inviting suicide, lately anyway. We Indians are addicted to too much carb food and that’s what is creating our epidemic of insulin resistance, diabetes and the rest of it right up to cancer in every home.
You must know by now that it is the simple refined carbs or high glycemic foods combined with industrial fats which are taking their toll on us — in comparison, small amounts of cold pressed filtered oils with a limited shelf life and desi ghee are prescribed by most nutritionists in the know. Your grandmother could give you the same advice. By all means throw out all the refined junk oils and stay away from fryums and industrial foods popping out of various seductive packets. And don’t drink anything except water, water, water — pure mineral water from an uncontaminated well or spring if you can find it (some time ago I was at Kenneth Silveira’s home in Vasco da Gama and the water in his well has to be the best well water of them all in Goa)!
But to continue with my foodie moon mooning my current dilemma is why every now and again when it comes to buying this, that and other food from out, I end up with my back to the wall? If life didn’t revolve so much around food what would we do? Hey, I keep discovering these interesting new places which serve something I fall for and then before I can count 30 days a sort of ennui sets in and whatever they’re serving no longer satisfies…either the green chutney has too much salt or there’s too much oil in the sabzi or the idli is too much on the harder than the softer side! Say the fault lies within me and one must make up one’s mind to be happy good, bad, ugly…ya, be a sainted bird!
What bugs me is I’m paying the same money or more, so why do portions get less and less and quality worse and worse? What was once honest taste and flavour is now dishonest like the cook’s heart is no longer in what he/she is doing for a living! I taste how initial enthusiasm ebbs away in something I once loved but now no longer even like listlessly….what happened? I ask myself. Commerce happened.
I WAS delighted to find a copy of `The Landour Cookbook’ at the now over Goa Literary & Arts Festival in Panaji. This little cookbook is edited and introduced by Ruskin Bond & Ganesh Saili (Roli Books, softcover, `300), it is exquisite find for it lists over a hundred years of hillside cooking with recipes (some the essence of simplicity), some secret recipes of the many Anglo-Indian families for whom cool hillside Landour was home…the cookbook dates back to 1930 when it was first published, and has such a fascinating collection of tried and tested recipes by community women long since gone with the wind, who enjoyed a British Raj-styled life with much entertaining revolving around, community, club and the local folk who serviced them!

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