Guilty Pleasures.



Every picture tells a story so they say.
I’m not too sure what the two images above this post are meant to signify.
One is of a dubious collection of tins and packets from my larder, and the other is of my organic herb garden.
They represent two opposites in food values – that much is obvious, but how are they connected?
Suffice to say I have been moved to write this piece after reading an article in the food magazine Delicious, entitled “Don’t Tell the Food Police” written by Tim Hayward.
It deals with the author’s struggle within him between the two main food types. For those who are unaware of what these are, let me enlighten you.
Broadly speaking, in the red corner, we have Good Food, and in the blue corner we have “Bad Food”.
Mr. Hayward is far more expansive than this in this article, but I am sure you are getting my drift here.
The author talks of his moral compulsion to buy organic/ethically produced/locally sourced food EVEN THOUGH it may not even taste that good, fuelled by an unease over incurring the potential wrath of “The Food Police”. He additionally has the occasional dilemma between ethically produced and locally produced. Life can be complicated, don’t you think?
I recently dined with my daughter on the Ile de Re at what she affectionately calls “The Free Buffet” (That is so say that her ever indulgent parents were paying) Despite this, she wavered over choosing cod due to the over fishing question that she flagged up as a question of personal food ethics. Her resolve to choose an alternative clearly signalled her feeling that somewhere the Food Police that Mr. Hayward similarly feared were lurking, furtively making notes.
So, what do I think about it all? I am likewise challenged with the same problems from time to time. My garden is organic and I am proud of this. My eggs come from my sister’s chickens, a lot of my meat comes from my neighbours free range animals, we have a “Bio -Coop” nearby, a nirvana of ethically produced, organic food that I am irresistibly drawn to week after week. I have already praised our local market here earlier in this blog.
However, I cannot be a hypocrite. The first picture in the post is a collection of the British foodstuffs that find their way into my larder by way of visitors from the UK and my trips there by car. Even the most cursory of glances will show that we are slipping into the realms of “bad food” here. Take the large jar of peanut butter for example. My mother brought that back recently, after I had specifically requested “the trashy stuff” Ironically, I make my own from whole roasted nuts and it is rather good, even if I say so myself.
But there are markers deeply embedded in all of us that make us crave comfort food, and for me the foods pictured above are high up there in that special category.
I remember the time when I was recovering from a bad shoulder injury. I existed on a diet of Heinz Tomato Soup, Rowntrees Fruit Pastilles and Cheerios. Happy days!
Every jar and pot in that image has a similar memory that I won’t bore you with, other than to say they all taste good, despite the dubious contents of some.
I believe that life is about balance and compromise. A modicum of trashy food countered by something that is nutritionally sound will ensure an acceptable equilibrium – If the food hails from a locally sourced, ethically produced or organic provenance so much the better.
One thing is clear here. It MUST taste good for us to enjoy it, otherwise we really need to start on a diet followed by NASA astronauts where the pleasure factor is totally absent.
Mr. Hayward decides that the taste and enjoyment factors are to be his mantras in future. Sensible chap.
I hope this post does some justice to Mr. Hayward’s article which I enjoyed, and that the sentiments I feel are duly conveyed in this post.
To conclude, I am currently pawing through Nigel Slater’s “Appetite” – One of my favoured authors, who sees fit to have a full page picture of a packet of instant noodles on one of the early pages of the book, and quotes Smarties as a store cupboard staple. Both have additives that would make your eyes water, but they taste great.
You get the point? Good.

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7 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures.

  1. I totally agree that taste is key. And fresh organic local food (home-grown even better) hits the spot every time. I genuinely feel better after such a meal in a way I don’t after junk food. Guilt is not the driver!

  2. Just to add – thought-provoking blog. I know guilt can get mixed up in our food choices and it’s interesting to think how we can give messages about food without making people feel guilty.

  3. British foodstuffs. Birds Custard of course. (I’ve been known to make it after Niall’s gone to bed, then creep into bed and eat it slowly and luxuriously with a spoon. ) Bovril, Hellman’s Light Mayonnaise, and Hayward’s extra strong pickled onions. My little herb garden in a mess after the storms that ravaged the Var last week, the chervil is burnt to a crisp.

  4. Well aren’t you the lucky one to only choose between what you call bad food and good food!!

    Peanut butter??? Yes please!! Bad food to you? Could be a life saver to my recently diagnosed diabetic OH!!

    If only my choice in food was determined by organic or ethic!!! Nowadays it’s chosen for it’s glycemic index rating!!

    Think yourself lucky!!!!

  5. Pingback: Haddock in the Kitchen - A Taste of Garlic - Life & Living in France Blogs - Poitou-Charentes

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