Monday 30 April 2007

Size Zero Mother looks for fat

It’s been a weird food day. It started off with Adrian cooking soup at breakfast time. Green soup. Very green soup – as in wild garlic and ground elder soup. I blame Jo (ragrug) who told us, when we visited her in Wales, that it was very tasty. ‘Rather like spinach,’ she said.
Honestly it looked more like the kind of thing you concocted when you were five years old, brewing up something to go with the mud pies. It tasted, well, green. Very green.
‘Your mother would approve,’ said Adrian.
‘What? As in it tastes foul but does you good?’
We are still trying to work our way through the industrial size sack of milled linseed my mother (aka Size Zero Mother) pressed upon us at our last visit.
‘It’s incredibly good for you,’ she said. ‘I’ve put in a leaflet so you can read all about it.’
‘Does it taste nice?’
‘Oh no,’ she said triumphantly. ‘You add it to your quinoa porridge along with all your other nuts and seeds. I use rice milk.’
Er, we don’t eat quinoa porridge.
But apparently linseed (of this precise milled variety) will do everything – sort out your heart, your blood pressure, your sex life, your gammy knees. Really it’s clever stuff – I reckon, given half a chance, it could sort out Afghanistan and solve the thorny issue of fortnightly rubbish collections.
Anyhow, back in the kitchen I snuck in a glassful of sherry and a tweak of nutmeg to the soup and it made it just about edible (or should that be imbibible?).

My mother has had issues with food all her life and she has succeeded in passing them neatly and totally on to me and my two siblings. My sister is a classic yo-yo dieter – one moment she’s a svelte size ten, the next a bosomy eighteen. My brother on the other hand lives on a diet of pork pies, Maynards wine gums, Cote de Beaunes and ginger wine (I am so TOTALLY serious).

The other day I found a batch of letters Mum had written to me when I was at university. Every single one, even the short notes, had some mention of dieting or losing weight. A new diet, a yoga posture that would shed the pounds, some wonder-food or supplement that could melt fat. Needless to say, all this ever achieved was me ballooning, slowly, gradually over the years. I have never found a diet I can stick to and I am grown-up enough to know that dieting is not the answer anyhow. It all lies with self-esteem and boundaries and all the psych-stuff. One day I will just do it but I’m beginning to wonder when.

This morning my Internet connection was down and I positively steamed through work without the endless distraction of emails/blogging/websites. So I felt quite vindicated in sloping off for a lunch to celebrate my friend Linda’s birthday. We met in the Quarryman’s Rest, a pub in Bampton, which has undergone a bit of a makeover. Very good it was too – fresh young Exmoor asparagus risotto, thank you very much – with pine nuts and parmesan and drizzles of truffle oil. Followed by white chocolate and Bailey’s cheesecake.

So, feeling plump and just a little overfed, I walked down the road to drop in on Size Zero Mother. I needed to drop in a ‘juicing for health’ book she wanted. She was looking even thinner than ever – a stiff wind would seriously blow her over. We sat in the garden and I offered to make tea.

‘Now. I only want a drop of milk in it. I’ve read that the milk interferes with the goodness of the tea.’
Now the problem is that Mum reads so much (every health magazine and quack publication going) that she has read herself into a very small meagrely stocked corner. She fully believes she is intolerant, allergic or unable to eat virtually everything going – and has been subsisting for the last couple of years on rabbit food. The more I try to persuade her to eat, the less she will eat.

Anyhow, today took the biscuit (or not, as it happens). As we sat admiring her ceonothus, she said:
‘Now, Jane. I need you to tell me how to put on fat. I’ve read that if you don’t have enough body fat it stops your body being able to take up calcium.’
Deep breath. Then I try to explain that really, as a lifelong dieter, Mum knows all too well how to put on fat. Simply eat all the things that she has spent her entire life avoiding. This of course fills her with horror.
‘But I have a square of Green & Black’s every night.”
‘Eat a bar.’
‘Oh, I couldn’t. I’d be sick.’
And so it goes on. I have an 83 year old mother who is, I swear, anorectic while pretending she wants to put on weight (is that possible?). But who also - and how weird is this? – really and truly wants me to be fat (while claiming she doesn't). As I leave, I notice the bar of G&B. She follows my gaze and says, as she always does:
‘Go on. Have a bit. It's lovely.’
But for once, I don’t. Stalemate in the food wars.

PS - don't panic - I know the pic is of Solomon's Seal and not ground elder!!


Woozle1967 said...

Oh, Jane it is SO good to have you back - I have really missed your writing. And it is great to see proper pics too now, without the limitations of the other side!xx

Suffolkmum said...

God this made me laugh. Am intrigued by your mother - her attitude to you reminds me of a friend of mine who has had weight issues all her life; she's very happy with her current man because he quite rightly accepts her as he is - but it's apparent to all but her that he encourages her weight gain, and is always pressing food on her. You look tiny in your photo. Love the sound of your brothers diet.

Elizabeth Musgrave said...

you are back again. this is such good news.
can you get your mother onto cheese - calcium/osteoporosis protection and all that?

toady said...

What about some nice endoline pork, cauli cheese, roast spuds,followed by crumble and cream. Well it works for me. Toady

Blossomcottage said...

Nice to see you back and on good form, my mother is a fantastic cook even at 85 she still produces puddings to "die for", I think a little of what you want is good for you, not keen on the constant desire to know how many calories are in something before you taste it. Me I like the sea fodd diet. See food and eat it, the old ones are best ones. Blossom

Bluestocking Mum said...

Exmoor Jane at her best...

warm wishes

Anonymous said...

O.K., this is spooky, our father's passed on around the same time, and now it appears that "diet" is a buzz word in both our Mother's vocabulary. Are you quite sure you don't have Irish blood in you? I know my own ancestry for seven generations, but...

Anonymous said...

By the by, sooooo good to have you back blogging!

Sally Townsend said...

Your blogs are just the perfect size (your Mother would be proud) with just the right amount of punch and intrigue to bring people back for more, and more.. I love Bampton and the surrounding area.

Sally Townsend said...

oooh thats funny it says I made a comment on 30th April, it most definitely is 1st May here and 8.24 am.

@themill said...

I relate to so much of this. I'm with your sister. But not sure I'll try the soup, although it might be the only useful purpose of ground elder!

Eden said...

loved this, jane. So glad you are back blogging, back free to blog whatever you jolly well like. bliss. Ours and yours. Eden.

Pipany said...

I know it's not funny, Jane, but it sort of is too - well, the way you write it is! I agree with Suffolkmum - you look too small to worry about such things. (Have also stuck a comment on the book bit.) xx

Posie said...

Lovely blog as always Jane, trying to grow ceonathus (excuse crap spelling). You would think that at the tender age of 83 your mum would enjoy indulging a little, she deserves it, don't think you can put on weight at that age, can you?! x

countrymousie said...

What a mother - I have much in common but unfortunately not size zero zero; more in the fact that I have rice milk, anything with gluten grains etc. I have Lindt 70/80% choc - tastes better than the rest I find.
So glad you are back here writing -I suppose I could be a zero if I didnt eat so much of all this good stuff. Moderation in all things and a mouse allergic cheese. You couldnt make it up could you!! Yes, you look positively petite in the photo - so you cant fool us your viewers.

Tattieweasle said...

Nah still looks like ground elder - actually it isn't now I've had a really good look. Possibly if I squeeze my eyes and squint I could possibly pass off my acres of ground elder as Solomon's Seal...there's a thought! Thanks for making me laugh!

Unknown said...

I'm so happy you're blogging here. I was on the CL site for a couple of weeks (I jumped ship before it all went pear shaped - couldn't handle the techie troubles) but always loved your entries so I just dropped in to say Hi and I'll be back;)

Milla said...

Hoorah, Jane, you're back in public. Love your mother and these non-meetings of minds.