Monthly Archives: July 2010

Case of the Lost Bowl

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There’s a television show currently screening on Australian television which has, as the critics say, “taken the country by storm”. Masterchef Australia fits the formula replicated around the world; contestants, judges and unsuspecting fruits and vegetables get carved up for our viewing pleasure each week night. My family and friends know that I am not a fan of the show. The judges repel my ethical sensibilities as they shovel food into their mouths, with the short bald one sweating as he does so, and I can’t help but picture the many starving around the world who would give their left leg to be so greedy. I probably wouldn’t be as offended if the judges were skinny and looked like they needed a good feed; it’s simply the excess that makes me feel uncomfortable and if I’m honest (which I usually am) the mirrored image that stares back at me…

That aside, I should admit that I do love cooking, although I rarely cook from a cookbook. The best explanation of this is that I have less interest in the actual recipe and flavours than I do with the preparing of it. As I’ve said before, I’m the third generation of good female cooks who can instinctively whip up a curry and I don’t recall my mother ever declaring as she served up my dinner, “the beef is the real hero on the plate darling”. Nor do I remember describing my food as being “eclectic” or “brave”. The thing that really tips me over the edge is when contestants describe their food as “honest”.

Really? Honest? Did that chocolate pudding tell you what a dill you are then? But admittedly I am predisposed to a rant and I’m also predisposed to use psychological rhetoric which I suspect also makes me appear rather arrogant. Maybe “honest food” is the equivalent to an “anal stage of motivational development”?

What they don’t talk about on the show is the growing girth of the judges and I suspect the growing waistlines of the many fans who rush out to replicate the dishes made on the show each night. I was only too aware of my rather rolly-polly waist when the toolman and I were watching our favourite show at the moment; United States of Tara (the toolman likes to see a couple with a wife “crazier” than me I suspect).

I was happy lying at my end (as couples know, we have our ends) and was conscious of the fact I was lying on the remote. A good twenty minutes later I shot up with a gasp.

“What’s wrong baby?” the toolman got a fright, such was my exclamation.

“Omigosh…I can’t believe it….I’m humongous!”

The realization had occurred slowly. I was watching the screen when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the remote on the coffee table. If the remote was on the coffee table, then it couldn’t be under me. Whatever it was felt quite cool against my side. Then I saw the toolman’s dessert bowl sitting next to the remote. Where was my bowl and spoon?…….And then BOOM! I realized I was lying on it, actually lying on it.

“I’m so huge I can’t even feel crockery when I am lying on it! It was stuck between my rolls! People should tell me to stand up and shake when they can’t find their car keys!” I was distraught but then I fell into giggles.

A fellow blogger and “fan” of my blog told me this week to remind myself of the good things I do each week and I think she had a point. Yes, crockery got lost in my blubber and I didn’t even realise it was there and yes, add to that the loss of actually gaining weight this week and the result looks glum. But this week, I’m going to let it ride and have a laugh about it.

Now if I was a dish on Masterchef, do you think they would call be “brave”?

Deserving The Matter

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I’ve been feeling a dull and aching rage swill around in my stomach today. As a consequence, having not yet emotionally evolved, I’ve engaged in a list of masochistic activities all afternoon.

Weigh in this morning saw me lose 700 grams (1.54 pounds) which in the context of my Hungarian feasting last weekend, was quite a relief. However, the meeting that followed left a rather bad taste in my mouth; although I’m getting used to that (Boom Tish)!

It started as normal; some whoop-whooping from the stars who had lost, and some somber faces from those who didn’t. Our meeting leader who had just returned from a tropical holiday was glowing and whilst she is certainly a great advertisement for the weight loss company, she fails to engage me on a real-girl-with-big-bum-licks-the-crumbs-out-of-her-bosom kind of way.

Even though I have experienced a spreading behind and understand the minefield I need to dodge in life because of it, I have absolutely no interest in an Alcoholic Anonymous type meeting where we pat each other on the back for making the “right food choices” between meetings.

There we sit my mum and I each week, in uncomfortable chairs, in rows like children, and subject ourselves to stories from tiny women who proclaim in the most satisfied way, “oh, you wouldn’t believe it…I was out for breakfast and ordered one poached egg with spinach on the side and my friends were telling me how little I eat…I quite simply felt sorry for them, they have no idea what they are doing to their bodies”. In short, these little tales are, as my Aunt likes to say, just Vile!

Of course your friends are annoyed you silly woman, I wanted to say. Who wants to go out to eat with someone who, consciously or not, highlights to everyone else on the table how their indulgent choices are affecting their waist lines. But then again, why does this make me angry? Why should the choices of a perfect stranger affect my own?

Luckily for me, I don’t find it difficult to reach the truth. As truth be told, in a way I’m afraid that I’ll never be like this woman. That I will never have so much control as to deny myself what is needed to keep a svelte figure. And that most of all, I will never be seen as “one of them”. As much as I resent the fact that it is demanded of me, I don’t want to stand out in a physical way. I want to be unique in many other ways, often arguing for an alternate path for the sheer sake of it, but physically, nah-ah.

Why can’t I just be me; fat, skinny or porky pie? Why does it matter? Healthy or not, our figures are much like the cars we drive, the houses we keep, the jewelry we wear and even the words we write. They say all say, “look at me, I’m like you, I’m in the right group”. I would love to fight against it but this my friends is the way it is- am I really so special that I feel I can fight against the grain? Lets face it, I’m no Germaine Greer!

And so, in true oppositionary style, instead of doing all I could to join the in-group today, I chose to complete a list of self-deprecating activities.

  • I trailed through photo upon photo of mere acquaintances on facebook, wondering why they positioned themselves the way they did in each photo; side on, looking up, no remnant of a wobbly bit
  • I sat on my behind eating biscuits whilst looking at said photos
  • I berated myself for not studying for a rather important upcoming exam
  • I bit my nails between biscuit bites, undermining the hard work it took to grow them; and
  • Just to top it off, I chose the only spot on my six-seater couch that was clearly inhabited by my cat overnight, thus covering my own good self in her hair

Why is it so difficult for me to do what is good for me? Why would I never pay for a massage, my nails painted (although I dabbled in that for a time), or a tailored piece of clothing? Do I deserve it simply because I was born?

But then it doesn’t seem all that bad, because I remember that what I fear most is not being excluded from the in group after all; it’s being part of it and tut-tutting as the old me walks past…

“She just doesn’t realise what she’s doing to her body”…Vile!

A Newly Discovered Memory Lane

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I spent this weekend just passed in Sydney which was terrible for the waste line but satisfied almost all of my other sensibilities. The toolman is at first glance a typical Australian man; he has a bizarre but rather normal love of Australian Rules Football, he loves the most amber of beer and prefers to refer to tomato sauce as “dead ‘orse”.  He is however the son of a Hungarian immigrant mother and we spent the weekend with his very Eastern European grandmother.

Although we did none of the usual sightseeing which usually includes Sydney Harbour, the famous Bridge and Opera House, I did have an opportunity to become painfully aware of surrounding Sydney-ites. If you feel you have the most perfect of shades of blonde hair, can tie it severely in a pony tail, don some skin tight lycra and asics trainers, shout your demand of a soy latte and gloopey oats for breakfast at the poor waiter (hold the fat, the cream, the flavour) and feel inclined to laugh hysterically with your BFF as you tell each other how fabulous and interesting you are, you’ll be sure to have a riot in Syndey (I’m sure the tiny seats were there just to highlight how far my derrière really can spill over the sides). Needless to say, I would be more inclined to move to a damp cave inhabiting a grizzly bear than I would move there.

But the joy of the city is never found in its streets; it’s in a quiet apartment with a mature aged Hungarian couple who have the key to the most interesting city around.  With a “Hogy vagy” here and a sprinkling of paprika there, you will find an endless list of stories about crossing a war torn border, early immigrant Australia and tales of family history I seldom hear from the toolman.

Tales of characters with names like Monsika and Geisa are so closely tied to the toolmans’ childhood, I wonder how this man is more “fair dinkum” than “Béke veled”! Around his grandma, the toolman becomes his ‘European self’, enjoying the delights of her Hungarian cooking, the likes of which I couldn’t imagine myself replicating nor quite frankly, understanding. But the food of the toolman’s childhood brings out his playful and vulnerable side, which when it reveals itself, is magic for me to watch. As the weekend progressed, I realised that there are some things more important than calorie counting and I welcomed the food that Grandma served.

Unfortunately I never met the toolman’s mother and he rarely, for his own reasons, talks of her in detail. Any information I can gather about her is in pieces and I am often embarrassed about how little I know of her. Having never met his father either, it seems to me at times (albeit selfishly) that this man appeared in my life with the sole purpose of being my loving husband, with a fully formed personality that was created during adulthood without parental influences. Without any way to place that cheeky smile or the curvature of his hands into a context, I studied the photos Grandma showed me, trying to memorise the shape of his parents’ faces, the tilt of his mothers chin.

When the toolman brought out his use of the Hungarian language, reciting one of the few phrases he knows (Csirke halszálka which translates roughly as “chicken bones”), I was brought back to the present once more and reminded of how I love his humour, even if I’m not sure who he got it from.

When we left, it wasn’t without a tin full of cakes and sweets to take with us. With my Nanna gone from this time, I was reminded as I walked out the door, that there are few things that can beat the attention to detail that a Grandma can bring to food.

And ultimately, whoever you are, wherever you’re from, nothing can really beat Grandma’s cooking.

Wiggling Good Time

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“Lean forward a bit”

“Ok. Any better?”

“Worse. Stand up straight” she says with a giggle

“I am, I am”. I lift my left leg and bend it in front of me. The reason was twofold; first to show the world that I can do that now and to see if it made a difference.

“Have you been to the toilet today?” she looked hopeful.

“I just went before. Why don’t I take off my jumper? I weighed in my singlet last week anyway”.

Standing in leggings, socks and a singlet, I saw the loss of last week on the scale before me– 1.1 kilos (2.4 pounds), which meant that finally I had reached the big 2.0. Twenty kilos (44 pounds) and with 14 to go, I am well on my way to redeeming myself as the slightly pudgy but well rounded bouncy brunette I once was.

It felt so great that the slightly raised eyebrows I detected (from the oh-so-well-manicured-crowd) as I wiggled my bum in the air didn’t deter me from exclaiming, “I got there! I did it!”

Throw in a few working ovaries and some firmly attached nails and the world is my oyster…

And sometimes you just have to leave it there.