Friday 13 January 2012

You Are What You Eat III

Middle-class Upwards all go on the January detox because we all drink and eat too much in December – don’t we? But it’s not enough to give up drink – they insist on going on very exclusive diets. Exclusive as in “excluding most food groups”. They spend January munching a mixture of swedes, lentils and pumpkin seeds washed down with spring water, which makes them miserable and depressed. They keep falling off the wagon and eating chocolate biscuits washed down with chardonnay but their spirit, their self-image and their reputation have had a massive hit of Puritanism and they’ve had the fun of boring on (and on, and on and ON) about it and even writing articles about it in the broadsheets. They don't really like self-denial, but they love the attention-seeking. (But isn't it just what we used to call a "slimming diet"?)

Sam still suffers a faint twinge of Puritanism when she hears or reads of somewhere being a holiday destination because of its “great restaurants”. She knows we’ve moved on from “food is just fuel for the body”, and plain boiled cabbage, potatoes and cold mutton, but… visiting somewhere just for the food? Are we allowed to do that? Even though we fuss about food 25% of the time? (That may be a junk statistic.)

Upwards also shudder at the American use of “restaurant” to mean a fast-food joint. You dress up to go to a restaurant, and expect to find polite waiters who treat you like members of the aristocracy, velvet-covered chairs, linen napkins and French food. Otherwise you specify the country of origin. You expect Italian and Greek places to be cheaper and more relaxed, but they’re still restaurants. Chinese restaurants are quite downmarket unless you go for a region, like Szechuan Cuisine (this may be rather 80s). Upwards and Weybridges haven’t quite got to grips with Japanese restaurants - there may not be any in Winchester – but Teales are game. They’ve come a long way since they regarded pizza and paella with suspicion in the 70s.

Upwards also wince whenever an acquaintance says they have “given up dairy”. It’s “dairy products” - but you can’t say that either, because only someone trying to sell you something would use the word “product”. Falling for silly diets is a middle class thing – they can afford the expensive nutritionist who tells all his clients to give up dairy, gluten and relatives of the deadly nightshade. (It used to be leavened bread and alcohol, as all clients were diagnosed with candidiasis. Next year, who knows?)

Doctors recently advised us to drink moderately, eat sensibly and exercise all year round - but where's the fun in that?

Part One here.
Part Two here.

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