Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sunday and the food question

Lisa’s parents stayed over to look after George and we spent most of Sunday eating… not a bad thing – and most of it was pretty healthy for a Sunday Lunch (boiled potatoes, baked sea trout, salads).

The subject of diet came up as it very often does. Lisa and Sam are engaged in a long term campaign to change their parents’ eating patterns. To put it bluntly, they want them to buy less food more often. They want them to keep an empty fridge and freezer, and not go to the supermarket. Instead, they want them to walk to the grocers and the fishmongers and buy only the food they’re going to eat that day.

That way they hope to persuade them to get more exercise, eat more healthily and not end up with heaps of uneaten food which goes off – and then gets eaten anyway or thrown away.

It’s a good cause and Lisa (from the perspective of an OT) and Sam (from the perspective of a chef) have quite a weight of expertise behind them.

Whether it will work is another question. Changing the habits of a lifetime is difficult, even though Sam and Lisa are worried that those habits could be becoming dangerous.

People’s relationships with food are probably as complicated as their relationships with each other. It’s so fundamental to everyone that every aspect of it is bound to become tied up with everything that you are… trying to unpick that always involves more than just your diet.

George is starting his relationship with food basically by loving all of it. Which is fine by me. He’s happy to chomp on anything or anyone he can get close to and we’ve started giving him little bit of whatever we’re having.

We discovered this week that he’s very fond of curry (or dahl at least) and he’s happy with lumpy food and even things he has to bite.

We have bought a few pots of pre-made baby food, but even the best organic-no-preservative-colouring-free-natures-superfood-fair-trade-recycled-baby-megafood is absolute rubbish compared to mashing your own vegetables.

I wouldn’t eat it myself, and George doesn’t much care for it either.

We’re following the trendiest of the baby cookery books (Annabel Karmel’s). In fact I think you’d probably have your children taken into care if you didn’t own a copy of that particular book in East Dulwich.

It’s actually quite good and gives timetables for when to introduce different foods and how baby’s needs change over the months.

However, as with all cookery books, it’s precise measures and strict advice is only really for those people who feel reassured by being told exactly what to do. We interpret it quite broadly as we do with most cookery – which in practice means we look at the recipe title, think it sounds nice, close the book and make our own version.

In fact much of the time we just let him eat whatever he grabs as long as it doesn’t look too toxic. I gave him a piece of raw okra the other day to chew on. he dropped it on the pavement a couple of times, but I dusted it down and gave it back to him and he seemed to like the texture.

I’m sure he’ll pretty soon let me know if he doesn’t like something and although I’m avoiding wasabe and fish bones for now, I think human babies evolved to be quite robust – regardless of the volumes of threats that your little precious will die if he ingests the wrong kind of broccoli three weeks before the recommended broccoli introduction date.

You see – he’s only seven months old and I’m projecting my food politics onto him already. As I said. It’s a complex relationship.

It’s a well known cliché that it always rains on bank holidays. Well, this one seemed to stand that up. After a week of sunny weather, the day quickly ruined any ideas we had about going out for walks and taking George to the park.

We ended up spending the day as though we were on a caravanning holiday: stuck in doors reading newspapers, and wondering whether to play scrabble or watch low quality movies.

Teaching the holocaust
Got an outraged email the other day about a supposed plan to stop teaching the holocaust to schoolchildren because it apparently upset the Muslim community who (quoting from the email) “don’t believe it happened”. The email went on about how we must never forget the atrocities so that it would never happen again.

Lisa’s sister Lucinda got the same email and apparently looked it up and actually it’s a load of rubbish – there was never a plan to stop teaching the holocaust. There never was a suggestion that any Muslim organisation claimed it didn’t happen.

In other words, the angry email - unwittingly passed on by lots of people who weren’t able to check its authenticity - was really just part of an attempt to stir up racial hatred.

Exactly the same kind of hate campaign that bit by bit persuaded the German people to back Hitler in the first place.

Getting rid of cars
We thought when we first had George that we’d need a small car for buzzing around London and a bigger car for taking all the baby stuff whenever we wanted to go away for more than an hour.

It now turns out that everything we need for George fits in the small car pretty comfortably and on the rare occasions we need a big car, there’s always Sam just around the corner.

Since we’re constantly swapping and borrowing cars between us anyway, we’ve decided to get rid of one estate and share the other one.

I’ve also been meaning to get around to dispensing with my little Citroen (which cost me £300 3 years ago – so it doesn’t owe me anything).

Gillian came round on Tuesday as I had George for the day, and I’ve given her my car. It’s the best solution all round, I think. She always ends up driving around in her theatre company van and as an eco-campaigner she’s constantly aware that this isn’t very environmentally friendly, so my little car should suit her fine.

Last night, Lisa and I took advantage of my mum’s visit (she’s here to look after George today so I can work) and went out with a friend of Lisa’s, Graham.

A night out with Graham usually follows the same pattern – drinks followed by a Pizza – usually in Clapham.

Unfortunately he demands that you keep up with him in alchohol, so the night usually leaves me feeling a little hung over the following day.

The government is running a big campaign trying to get people to take note of the points they drink and not to exceed 3 per day too often.

Ok – so that’s two bottles of cider and a bottle of wine…. Um 16 points.

Oh dear.

I need to try harder.

I am, after all, in that group they’re trying to reach – the people that end up having a glass of wine with dinner most nights.

I’ll have to cut down on that.

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