Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Food, glorious food
I’ve been suffering from a bad attack of frozen shoulder which has been agony and meant not being able to type or write – bit of an occupational hazard for a writer. Today it’s feeling a bit better but as I have to transcribe an interview I did on Friday, and am interviewing Ian Rankin on Monday (a phoner, sadly, not meeting the man in person), I am saving my energies, so here is something I was asked to write some time ago. About food.
About 15 years ago I developed an intolerance to caffeine which means that tea, coffee and chocolate turns me into a hyperactive lunatic incapable of sitting still. My heart pounds, my hands shake – it’s like having a panic attack. A high price to pay for a few moments of indulgence.
So now I drink decaff coffee, Rooibosh tea and pass on chocolate. Occasionally the odd bit is tolerated, but only a little.
But oh, I do miss it. Looking at a piece of chocolate cake the other day, I could taste the rich velvety sweetness on my tongue. The seductive way it would stick to my teeth. I would sample the dark heaviness for minutes, hours later. Chocolate should be made by kings and queens for royalty, I think. When indulging in chocolate, it should be eaten slowly, every mouthful savoured, lingered over.
I long for the rich bitter taste of freshly brewed coffee that goes so well with bacon sarnies or buttery croissants. When I smell fresh coffee drifting out from someone’s window I sniff, like a Bisto kid, and the smell of it invigorates me, even if I can’t drink it. If other people have a cup, I grab it and inhale, like a glue sniffer. I can imagine the seductive way it slips down my throat, seeps round my system like a snake, winding up the parts that other drugs can’t reach.
I remember, years ago, having friends over for a meal and someone brought a home made tiramisu. This was a way of combining all our favourite foods in one. A smorgasbord of secret delights. A marriage of two powerful families: the rich, powerful coffee with the sensuous, fecund chocolate. Their union resulted in a dish of previously unimagined decadence with an ermine lacing of cream, topped with teasing shavings of chocolate.
Who could resist that?