Banter in the Garden
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Tea and Strumpets
Just in time for Christmas, the NZ Listener served up a dose of food guilt and You Must Diet and food is not for fun and LOSE WEIGHT NOW! To be fair to The Listener, the article avoids saying that fat people are unhealthy (if you are sceptical about this claim, check this story about the non-link between fat and health in the New York Times). However, The Listener story does have an underlying theme of making people feel bad about food, and it tacitly claims that losing weight is just a matter of sufficient willpower. This is despite the magazine having previously run stories on the myths of weight loss (see my summary of the story here), and willpower (long story short – it can be done, but only with huge effort, unless there are structural supports around you).
Whatever. And what a way to cast a pall of nagging tut-tut-tut over a celebration.
So in the spirit of simply enjoying good food and good company, I offer you our Christmas Day menu.
We started the day with Bucks Fizz – champagne version for the adults, lemonade version for the children, although those children who wanted to do so were invited to try some of the former.
For breakfast, we had warmed croissants stuffed with our butcher’s secret recipe homecured bacon, and lightly stewed peaches, still warm from the pan, all drizzled with maple syrup.
I made a superb bacon quiche for lunch. I would show you a picture, but we ate it all before I thought about taking a photo. Likewise with the pre-dinner nibbles, alas. Or perhaps not so alas, because the homemade pate, blue cheese, chippies, and homemade hummus were delicious.
This was the main part of dinner.
It’s a whole leg of lamb, studded with cloves of garlic, then rubbed with lemon juice and olive oil, then placed on a bed of freshly cut oregano, and wrapped in baking paper and brown paper. I cooked it long and slow, for about three hours, and I rested it for half an hour before serving it. It was meltingly tender, and flavoursome. The recipe comes from Ruth Pretty.
I accompanied the lamb with asparagus drizzled with lemon infused olive oil, a medley of green beans, broad beans and peas with melted mint butter, and herby Jersey Benny potatoes (best potatoes ever).
Yummy yummy yummy.
And then there was dessert.
From left to right, fresh cherries, a berry medley, marscapone apricot tart, whipped cream, yoghurt, a strawberry pavlova, and lemon semi-freddo. The pavlova was excellent, crisp on the outside, and soft marshmallow without a hint of chewiness in the middle. The lemon semi-freddo was good too, creamy and tart, and not at all icy. I was very pleased with the way it turned out.
Just in case anyone was still hungry, we finished off with Christmas cake. Lurid Christmas cake.
I hope that you ate some wonderful food over the festive season too. Feel free to share.
Also today in pig-headed ignorance, and today in ignoring science, and today in failing to think through consequences, and today in hating on children.
A CHILD’S weight should be included in their school report as part of a radical plan to tackle the obesity crisis, according to [Professor David Penington] who led Australia’s successful response to the AIDS epidemic.
I find this mindblowing, not just for the complete disregard for science, but for the astonishing idea that it’s a good thing to shame children about their weight, and that somehow, magically, this will make them thin and happy. It doesn’t work with adults because (a) shaming just upsets people and (b) shaming does not result in weight loss and (c) weight loss does not lead to better health (just google “obesity paradox” and you will find the evidence), and it works EVEN LESS with children because….. (hold your breath, here’s a giant reveal that seems to have escaped Prof. Penington), CHILDREN DON’T GET TO CHOOSE WHAT FOOD THEY EAT.
As parents, we impose our own lifestyles on children. The children in my house? They’re great at argument (conceptual, inferential, evidential, you name it – they argue it and yes, this is a problem from time to time), but sports, well, whatever. They play a bit and we go and cheer them on, but really, it’s just not a big deal. That’s because in our house, discussion is a Big Thing. But they miss out on sport, which is a large part of many families in New Zealand, because it’s just not a big deal around here. They are deeply influenced, and the patterns of their living set for a long time to come, by the way that Mr Bee and I live.
And the type and amount of food they eat, and the exercise they do, or don’t do, is deeply influenced by us. They have no responsibility for what does into their lunchboxes. That’s MY responsibility. I’m the one who buys the bread and the sandwich fillings, makes the muffins, ensure there’s some fruit and some yoghurt on hand, so that they can make their school lunches.
So when Prof. Penington sets out to shame children, not only is he doing something that is completely ineffective anyway, but he totally missed his target.
I’ve had enough of teachers and doctors and (alleged) experts filling the school curriculum with do-gooding nonsense, which only leads to children coming home and trying to get their parents to change. But exactly how much power do children have to change their parents anyway? Very little indeed. It’s an intolerable burden to place on children. I think Prof. Penington must hate children too.
So how should one illustrate a story about falling sperm counts?
With a headless pregnant woman, of course!
Well done, New Zealand Herald. Well done.
Tick the tropes: men’s illness = women’s problem, women as bearers of fetuses, women responsible for the human race, women reduced to a state of pregnancy, women reduced to body parts. Any more?