Or… when fatty food doesn’t feel like it used to
I don’t eat out these days as often as I used to, which was at least once a week in the good old days of indulgence. I haven’t ordered a takeaway (also at least a weekly occurrence) or been to a fast food outlet (ditto) for over a year either.
When I do go, my strategy for restaurants nowadays is to take a look at their menu online beforehand and decide ahead of time, what is the best (ie, healthiest) choice to make. That way, when I sit down to eat, I don’t taunt my taste-buds. I know what I want, so I don’t tempt myself the way I used to do, into picking the dish, or dishes, which most excited my imagination. I’m not saying that wholefood salad and grilled salmon doesn’t excite my taste-buds, but… but… when hungry, and faced with acres of scrummy-yumscious descriptions designed to make you drool, it’s highly likely I would choose something altogether more… decadent.
However… on Friday evening, I had failed to prepare. And by the time my friend and I got to the restaurant, I was also more than peckish. And very susceptible to those drooliscious descriptives.
It was a seafood restaurant, so the potential for disaster wasn’t enormous. It wasn’t a total tumbling off-the-wagon either, and certainly not a culinary crisis of the kind I’ve been so familiar with in the past. It was a short-lived, giddy overbalancing; but one from which I’ve learned an interesting lesson.
I began my meal with one single oyster. How about that for self-control, even when it wasn’t needed? I just wanted the aroma of the sea, and a solitary slippy little creature dressed with a squish of lemon did the job. Happy days.
But then the proper starter. And… oh… when you haven’t had a Chinese meal in over a year, and your seafood restaurant menu tantalises you with their version of Salt and Pepper Squid… Just the once, I thought. Just the once, wouldn’t it be lovely?
Well, it was ok – not lovely – but ok.
Actually, it was greasy. It was properly yukky yuk-yuk greasy.
If I’m honest it was just like Salt and Pepper Squid always is. But to me, whose palette rarely experiences deep fried anything these days, it was swimming in the stuff. Ikky and claggy, it clung to my mouth. It wouldn’t wash away – a glass of cold water served to set the grease, rather like when you leave a frying pan full of fat to go eat your breakfast and when you come back, it’s all congealed. It wasn’t pleasant.
But I pressed on.
Next came the main course. I know… I should have chosen a nice piece of poached white fish, grilled salmon maybe. But I was choosing with my taste-buds. I picked mussels, poached in cream, white wine and garlic. You see what I mean? This wasn’t a total crisis. Mussels is not a bad choice, as such. But I’ll admit, the creamy poaching liquor was less than prudent. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the tiny tin bucket of French fries. I probably ate about half of these microscopic and not in any way delicious little sticks of fry-up. I eat almost no potato these days, so I was going carefully – at least I thought I was. But I can’t remember the last time I ate chips in any form – and their greasy coating settled all too quickly, like a second skin on the layer of greasy batter residue already lining my mouth.
To be fair, the mussels were delicious and I slurped about half the creamy, white winey jus. I slurped until I began to feel it might be wise to stop. My stomach, you see, had already begun to protest the slippery onslaught of batter, chip fat and lastly, that admittedly tasty slew of unctuous yummyliscious cream.
You can see I’m torn by this experience, can’t you? Good in parts, bad in parts. But with a claggy, fatty yuk yuk payload.
I had a great night out – I enjoyed it, I really did. The ambience, the company, the laugh we had, all perfect. But as I lay awake for almost the whole night, taking too many trips to the bathroom, feeling the silt swill around my stomach and occasionally wash high up my oesophagus (I haven’t had acid reflux in ages), I did indeed wonder, was it worth it?
I’m glad I had this experience though, as it’s shown me how far I’ve come since the days when I could happily put down platters of deep fried squid, fried pancake rolls, fried crispy seaweed, sweet and sour chicken fried in batter, fried rice and any amount of sweet, sticky sauces. It’s reminded me why I no longer buy and eat crisps (USA: potato chips) in epic volumes. It’s shown me how my sense of taste has adjusted, how I no longer crave the mouthfeel of those fattier, richer foods.
I do eat fat, just not deep-fry fat. I celebrate healthy fats like olive oil, oily fish, avocado and brazil nuts. I enjoy full fat yogurt, too much cheese, a little butter here and there. I love chicken skin and salmon skin (weird, I know). I leave the fat on meats likes steak or chops when I grill them and I relish the taste of it. I’m not against fat.
But I have left behind the deep-fry fatty mouthfeel sensations.
And yes, that would be yet another payoff of my new healthier lifestyle.