Oliver Twist, in the musical film where the song ‘food, glorious food’ comes from, imagines eating all sorts of amazing foods. The lyrics themselves mention hot sausage & mustard, cold jelly and custard, pease pudding, saveloys, steak, peaches and cream. I love that song but there is a twist in it for me, if you’ll excuse the pun, that I also dream of eating certain foods. My dream of course isn’t thwarted by evil workhouse masters, but it is still thwarted, by a variety of Crohn’s disease that is controlled by a rather restricted diet.
There are around forty or so different foods that I cannot eat. Some spices, loads of fruits, some vegetables, a whole list of E-numbers and various other common foodstuffs and additives. And among them are included berries, nutmeg and cinnamon.
So, on the theme of ‘food, glorious food’, lets imagine your average 3-course Christmas lunch, of the sort that your employer or social club or whoever invites you to. Starter – pate with melba toast & salad. Main course – roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce and all the trimmings. Desert – Christmas pudding (what else). Afters – coffee and a mince pie. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?
Only, I couldn’t have the salad because of tomatoes, spinach leaves and rocket leaves. And probably couldn’t have the pate as it’d almost certainly contain nutmeg. I couldn’t have the cranberry sauce because of the cranberries, nor could I have the sage out of the stuffing, which means if the turkey was roasted with the stuffing I couldn’t have any meat that touched the stuffing either. Nor could I have the gravy as I’ve never found a gravy mix yet that doesn’t contain either tomatoes or soya. I couldn’t have the Christmas pudding as I can’t have cinnamon, or raisins, or sultanas, or currants and I couldn’t have the mince pie either for the same reason
I’m fed up. I’m totally fed up of “Christmas” food. Or at least that’s what I’d like to be able to say. The truth is that I miss it. There’s a reason I’ve spent rather a lot of time and a few pounds more money than we could really afford in order to work out how to make myself a safe Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, and sweet mince for mince pies. There’s a reason that suddenly cooking is my primary hobby. I miss the foods I cannot have.
What I’m actually fed up of is having this blasted illness. I have tried to pretend I don’t have it but all that happens is that I get a swollen, ulcerated mouth, severe digestive problems, sudden exhaustion and a really foul temper. The symptoms vary in severity but what they have resulted in is making me mistrustful of anyone else’s cooking except for mine and my family’s, nervous of going to restaurants or cafes for anything more than a cup of tea, reluctant to go and eat with groups of people who I don’t know (even if I’ve phoned ahead and spoken to the chef about my diet) and generally antisocial in any situation that involves food.
Food, glorious food? I bl**dy wish.