Monday, September 12, 2005

A brownie, untasted

I've been away for the weekend to Dublin. As ever, there is a finite amount of time and money over a year, a month, a weekend, and a vast multitude of world to see. I can't go away every weekend to visit places I want to go to. I don't have the time, and I don't have the money. When I get there there isn't time to visit every sight, every shop, every restaurant. I have to pick and choose. I'll go to the the Guinness brewery, but this other museum isn't open at weekends, maybe. Or I'll spend a couple of hours shopping instead of looking round churches. I can spend an age soaking up the atmosphere of one district instead of spreading myself too thin trying to cover everything. There's beautiful countryside nearby, but I don't have time to get to see it. I make decisions as I go, trying to balance time, money, sanity to come up with the perfect break for me.

So why has it taken so long to apply the same logic to food. Give me a city break with 10 things I want to do and only time for 5, I'll pick 5. Give me a buffet with 10 things I fancy eating and I'll eat all 10, no matter how hungry I am. I have traditionally had an almost compulsive need to have a bit of everything, as though I'll never be able to experience that particular taste again. I see something luscious looking and I have to try it, even though I'm not particularly hungry, just because it's there. I see something that looks good, and I want to try it.

I unintentionally won a battle like this over the weekend. Let's call it the battle of the chocolate brownie. (food p o rn alert…) Just for clarity, imagine the most perfect looking chocolate brownie you've ever set eyes on. Just imagine the look of it, calling your name. Imagine thinking, on Saturday afternoon, that you'd let yourself have a slice later. And imagine realising later that you're not hungry enough to really enjoy it. Imagine Sunday lunchtime, thinking that the brownie would be a lovely Sunday afternoon snack, and then on Sunday afternoon thinking it would be a nice Sunday evening treat. And getting to Sunday evening still unprepared for the sensory assault of brownie on tastebud. Imagine sitting in the café at the airport, knowing that unless you eat it now, the brownie will have to stay, unbought and untasted, on the wrong side of the Irish sea. And then imagine the realisation that you don't actually want to eat the brownie, you just don't want to think that you missed out on it or that you made the wrong decisions.

I'll live without that brownie. I didn't die of a lack of chocolate brownie on the journey home, and I'll cope without it. One small battle, but a battle won nevertheless. I have nothing against brownie, and if I'd genuinely wanted it I'd have had it. I promised it to myself enough times after all, but the fact is that I didn't really want it, and that's why I'm glad I turned it down.

I noticed a couple of other changes too over the weekend. I eat slower, I put my knife and fork down between bites. I struggle to finish large portions. I can eat a single chocolate truffle in three or four bites instead of one, savouring each tiny bite as much as a big one (hence deriving the enjoyment of four chocolates from a single one). I didn't drink much, because I didn't feel like it, despite the extraordinary concentration of pubs and the expectation of going to Dublin to drink. I ate a pizza, but it was topped with lots of vegetables because it was the one I fancied rather than because it was the only one I'd let myself have. I ate half and half only of my cooked breakfast. I sat extremely comfortably in a plane seat. I dropped my rucksack off at my hotel because carrying around 5kg of clothes and other stuff was too heavy, even though I've lost 30.

The other thing I realised over the weekend was a reinforcement of the fact that I can do anything I want. Some people think I'm strange for heading away for the weekend on my own. Sometimes they think I'm brave, they envy my freedom, and sometimes they can't understand how I could cope with walking into a pub or a restaurant alone while I'm there. I go away because I'm young, I'm free, and I have the money to do it. I don't care what people think, and I get an amazing buzz walking through an unknown city, on my own, doing what I want to do, and doing it for myself. One weekend last year I drove, alone, round the south of France, soaking up the scenery and a love of life. I can do that, and I can do anything that I want. It would be nice to have company sometimes, but I'm not going to spend my life waiting for the right person to come along to join me in doing what I want to do. Even worse I'm not going to do it with the wrong person just to avoid doing it alone. I'd rather just do it now. The possibilities are endless, and the only person who can stop me taking them is me. If I want to do something badly enough, I can do it alone. The same applies to my weight. I can do it if I want to. I want to do this, I know how to do it, and I've proved I can do it. So why would I fail? How can I fail?


Today has mainly been spent surprisingly awake, refreshing the cricket score. Even for a non cricket fan there's something special about beating the Aussies at anything (well, anything except rugby union that is), and I think I've finally discovered how a game that goes on for days can actually be exciting. I never quite believed it before now, but there's nothing quite so likely to bring about a change of heart than a bit of glory hunting bandwagon jumping…

2 new sports in a weekend! I watched the All Ireland Hurling final on tv yesterday, and I have to say that was fantastic too. I'm well and truly spoiled at the moment, well, apart from Friday night's performance that is...


Blogger kathrynoh said...

Well done with not eating the brownie - I really struggle with stuff like that, mostly because I can't stand to see food wasted. Of course, if you eat something you don't really want it's just as wasted as if you threw it in the rubbish.

Your weekends away sound like a lot of fun. You are right, travelling alone sure beats travelling with the wrong person just to avoid being alone. I went on a group tour once because I wanted to go on hols but didn't want to travel alone. It was awful - the people on the rest of the tour started irritating from the second day and I had to share a room with a girl who followed me everywhere... grr!

Blah on the cricket though.

9:23 PM  

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