Category: opinion


I take photos of my food.

I do.

And I share those photos on social media.

I share them because I want people to like what the food looks like and even say ‘ooooh purdy food’ sometimes.

mixed

I don’t share photos of all my food – curry and rice is hard to make look like anything but slop, and sometimes my meals are too mono-coloured to be pretty to look at. Also, dinners are hard to photograph because it is dark, and flashes and food do not go well together.

Those exceptions aside, my food does generally  look good. And it tastes good too.

breakfast-and-lunch-8-feb

But I think it tastes good because I make sure it looks good.

 

When deciding on what I want to eat I consider how the colours would look together, how the plate would be composed, what the balance between items would be. The result is that I eat all the colours of the vegetable rainbow pretty much every day. I never overcook anything because grey, soft vegetables just look gross whereas crispy bright ones still retaining their colour look good in photos. A few slices of pepper and some cherry tomatoes on the side of avo on toast takes a green meal into a different realm of colour – and taste and nutrition. Nutritional yeast on a heap of roasted okra and baby aubergines turns the browns into something that both looks tasty and is actually good for me.

dav

I have always been an adventurous cook and that has continued to develop now that I look at new ingredients both in terms of what they may taste like, and what they would look like. My desire to explore new shapes, colours and textures in images has exposed me to new flavours and dishes.

dav  sdr

 

I probably eat less now (but still enough – I used to be a right piglet) because the plates that work well for photos are not huge dinner plates, but smaller, somewhere between side and dinner plate sized. (I think they may be called fish plates – but I dunno really.) If I am hungry I will have four, five, six meals in a day, but all on smaller plates. This smaller, more frequent eating works much better for me than three big meals, with seconds, a day.

 

I also take longer to make my food which stills me three times a day. Rather than a packet of crisps and a chocolate at my desk, I get up and prepare fresh food for myself. I don’t spend hours doing it but I have discovered that stopping for those twenty minutes to make the meal energises me for an afternoon at my desk. I stand, I stretch, I twist, move, bend and pick things up. I also talk to my dogs and sometimes even go outside, notice a new flower blooming, slip into the pool for a second or just breath, arms in the air, while I wait for something to heat, cool, cook or warm up.

I almost always eat at my desk because I spent the time preparing the meal, but I still get time away from work.

I find the process of preparing food meditative. I just stop the noise in my head, calm the thoughts, ignore the work stress, and instead, for a short period of time I just cook, prepare, slice, mix and arrange an attractive plate of food.

collage-2

Breakfast is the meal I most like photographing and so, for the first time in my life, I am eating a proper, healthy breakfast every morning. This may be related, or not, but also, for the first time in forever, I don’t get hangry when I get hungry. Maybe having breakfast is something that works for my body and it took wanting pretty photos for me to work that out.

 

I never would have thought that joining the IG and FB food sharing brigade would eventually have this effect on me.
What a win

Food as commune

Changing how and what I eat has brought into stark relief the social importance of eating together. The communal experience is really what eating together is about rather than anything else.

eating-together

image from http://clipart-library.com/circus-clown.html

In many religious groups and societal groups, people eat together, fast together, share food and drink from a single container, eat from communal plates, share the sensual experience of food. Eating together is one way in which we reaffirm social bonds.

So when one person in the group is not playing along the whole dynamic is disrupted.

I saw this last night when out with friends. These are friend with whom I eat often, with whom I discuss food at length. Some of the people in the group are real foodies – two are, in fact, chefs. Some of us are enthusiastic eaters and creative cooks. We had a platter of fried bits and pieces – fish fillets and prawns included. Three weeks ago I would have been all over those prawns but last night I really had no desire. I know they are delicious but I didn’t want one.

 

‘Cummon Kim, just one’

‘You know they are good’

‘Choochoo train’ while pretending to feed it to me like a child

‘Just the one, no one will know’

 

This was all light hearted and not real pressure but it was still there. The undertone was that I was not participating, not part of the shared experience. And that didn’t sit well with my friends who wanted me to be.

I ate some of the coriander garnish off the platter to be at least seen to be participating. (And I love coriander.)

 

Then we had wors rolls and our friend who is the chef at the place had gone and got me some Fry’s sausages. He had also not used butter or ghee to make the relish so I could happily have a roll with a sausage in it like everyone else.

And that meant I was again part of the shared experience.

I was teased a little at eating soy sausages but at least I was there, doing the same thing everyone else was with food that looked the same.

 

On the way home a friend asked me how long I planned to do this for, and why didn’t I just do it when not out and enjoy the food he knows I like when out.

I didn’t feel like this was pressure or anything negative but rather a call to return to the fold, to rejoin the shared experience.

We all eat out together a lot at an establishment said friend owns. Because we are friends with the chefs we get unique and delicious meals made for us. And by changing what I eat I am excluding myself from so many experiences in the future.

 

I’m okay with that because I have never felt better. But I am also a little saddened by it. These are my people, I am their people – and I have excluded myself from the group in such a fundamental way.

Compassion is a wonderful thing and something lacking in too many people’s lives. We are all so hell bent on getting ahead that the people who actually give a shit about anything other than themselves are few and far between.

 

However, where you will find an abundance of them in the vegan community.

For some that compassion seems, very oddly, to extend to animals only with no real care for other people or the environment.

 

But for many the compassion is all enveloping.

These are the kind souls who buffer the new vegans from the scorn of the older (and therefore much better and more evolved) vegans, who offer kind advice and gentle correction, who share ideas and recipes and tricks that make it easier; thing they have learnt that they don’t think other people should have to struggle to know.

 

For all the self-righteous sanctimonious vegans of yesterday’s post there are a slew of truly compassionate people for whom veganism is a lifestyle choice rather than a food choice.

 

They care – about themselves, about others, about generosity and compassion, about building people up and empowering them, about sharing their skills and knowledge – and they happen to manifest this in ways that include not wanting to kill animals for food.

 

Now that’s true veganism in my book

The birthday lunch
by Joan Clark

birthday-lunch

I liked this book.

It is, on the surface, quite gentle. But beneath the surface, the slow-paced life of a small village, the shock sleepwalking of bereaved family members, beneath all of that lies family history, betrayal, sadness, a sense of failures and being deserted, a swirling pool of mixed and misunderstood emotions – all the things every family holds within the emotional walls of relationships.

The book charts the detailed life and activities of a family after the unexpected death of a member. In a really still way this book will take you along the path of grief with the mourners. It is funny at times, and really quite sad too. It captures perfectly that period between death and burial when life carries on, but also is so markedly different it doesn’t fit any more.

The characters are all people we know, people we are related to, us. The relationships are familiar, and not always in a good way.

Misunderstanding, long held grudges, mistakes and anger are all there to be seen, and how they separate and join people is so human it made my heart ache.

And the end surprised me a little, in a variety of ways.

This is a lovely book which is absorbing and emotional.

These are words I would use to describe many vegans I have observed on various social media platforms. And it is so sad and such a pity.

No vegans – you are not more evolved that meat eaters, or omnis as they are called in the vegan world. For fuck sake, it is a life style choice you made, not a sainthood you earned. And unless you are also pro-life, accepting refugees into your spare bedroom, officiate gay marriages and have adopted needy children – and that’s just your weekend – you are not more ethically or morally evolved than anyone else who makes a simple food decision.

Furthermore, if you eat tofu imported from China with a carbon footprint of a yeti, or use Himalayan salt at the expense of Pakistani mountains, don’t be throwing evolved around to describe yourselves.

salt renewable-salt

Say no to pink salt, say yes to renewable sources only

(photo of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan from http://anettemossbacher.photoshelter.com)

No vegans – other people choosing a vegan lifestyle is not an opportunity for you to say you were right all along. Well done, you got there before other people, pat yourself on the back and then see how many people got there before you did. You are not the first person to decide not to eat animals so stop pretending you invented it and everyone else has finally seen you were right.

queue

You weren’t first and you won’t be last

How about rather just offering help and support and encouragement to new vegans instead of doing a bloody victory dance with an order of gloat on the side. Way to alienate people, dickhead!

victory-dance

(image from http://midnightmeowth.deviantart.com/art/victory-dance-291812692)

No vegans – your decision not to eat meat replacements does not make you a better vegan than those who chose to. If soya mince is what gets a person through a day without harming an animal for food, then let them have at it. You and your lentil burgers are no better that soya mince scoffing people. So stop pretending you are.

 

No vegans – not everyone can run out and buy vegan mayo and vegan biscuits and seitan steaks. When a new vegan asks for help how about being a bit more aware that for some people these options are out of financial range. And if those people, once they see how much less food costs when meat and other animal products are not on the shopping list, realise that the mayo is within reach, no gloating and saying I told you so. Not even implied!

 

No vegans – omnis do not want your opinion on their food. Shut up and eat what you chose and allow others the same freedom. Meat eaters know what vegans think cos vegans never shut the fuck up about it. If someone asks, answer, but how about not forcing your opinion on people trying to enjoy their meals.

 

Veganism feels a bit like religion – the principal is great but many of the supporters ruin it.

But all of that being said – there are some amazingly supportive vegans and vegan social media spaces. But it is less fun writing about the nice than the nasty.

But I will – next time.

One of the things I always thought about vegan eating is that it is simply too expensive. I mean have you seen the price of nuts and avos and all those other fancy things one obviously has to have when not eating meat.

R30 a litre of soy milk – you have to be kidding, right?!

How much are nuts? That’s daylight robbery!

Have you seen the price of tomatoes? I am not paying that much per kilo

dav

 

Uh huh – yep, I agree. Nuts are crazy expensive. Like R250 a kilo crazy. I would never buy stuff that expensive!

hear the sarcasm

dav

I certainly can’t often afford to buy a whole kilo of nuts so I buy small bags which are more expensive per kilo but less to shell out. Likewise my meat eating people cannot often afford to buy a whole animal or even a pack of chops or steaks, so they buy single servings.

 

Except R30 worth of nuts, even at inflated prices, is 60g. R30 worth of red meat is 125g of processed ham or similar to eat on a sandwich, or about a 200g sirloin,  250g chicken livers or 2 or 3 chicken thighs.

 

60g of nuts is a lot of nuts – made into vegan parmesan or nut cheese or nut butter I could eat on those 60g for a week. The meat amounts bought – each is a single meal really with maybe the livers being a meal for two.

 

‘Ja, but you eat expensive stuff like avos in a single sitting’

 

So let’s look at a salad we might both eat.

 

dav

We all eat the basics – and my avo is still cheaper than your tuna and cheese.

And it is in colour so I win.

Usually half an avo is all the rich I can eat anyway

 

So tell me again about how being a vegan is too expensive?

No one has to be a vegan – eat whatever makes you happy

But don’t use financial constraints as an excuse or reason

 

*I used the same shop for the prices of all the items in the article – I know you can get everything for less and for more at other outlets, but these are all from the same place.

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What an amazing collection of stories from a truly incredible author. Adichie shows the reader, through these 12 stories, so many of the stories of Nigeria and Nigerians. From women living in America, separate from their Big Man husbands to students hiding in empty shop front to escape from a riot these stories tell a multitude of vibrant, real and often heart-breaking realties.

Africa is so present in all the stories, possibly especially those of Africans in America. Adichie tells it as it is, no sugar-coating or misty-eyed out of focus view. She addresses the fear and loneliness of immigrants as well as the pride and strength they have. She looks at the connections between loved ones and those lost, and makes the protagonist, and therefore also the reader, examine preconceptions and opinions.

These stories will grab you and suck you in; make you want to know more and wish that each were part of a full novel about the characters. Each story is complete, but they did leave me yearning to know more of the people. I wanted their past and future – I wanted to demand to know more, dammit!

Adichie is all she is cracked up to be – I feel so lucky to be an aware, developing feminist reader at the time she is producing.

A note: when I first started reading this book I didn’t realise it was a series of stories. So I read the first few stories as though they were chapters in a book, storylines that would join up eventually. As soon as I did work out that this was not the case it was worth going back and rereading the first few stories as complete pieces. And I realised how differently short stories require the reader read.

1 million stars out of 10

gender bullshit

At Woolies today I saw some Father’s Day merchandise for sale at the till. I didn’t look at what it was and whether it is a Woolies product or not but it disturbed me somewhat.

The wrapping  has two options. They refer to the father as: A son’s first hero or a daughter’s first love

Hmmmm – that sticks a little in my crop

Are girls only soft, gentle things that need love and boys are future toughies who need a hero to aspire to? Do girls not deserve heroes as much as boys deserve love? Are dads not heroes to their daughters too?

And how heteronormative is it??? Girls love dad first and then other men because of course all girls are straight. And I assume boys’ first love is mom followed by other females. Let us not even mention the horrible incestuous undertones underpinning the hetero assumptions there.

And then, since when are dads always the hero of the family? Do fatherless kids have no heroes and therefore no chance of becoming whatever these fictitious boys have lined up for their future?

Could we not have just had Dad – my hero, or Dad – I love you instead of putting gender bullshit on the merchandise?

 

Room

Wow – what a book. This book is trending at the moment because of the recent movie so many people have read and reviewed it recently. But I wanted to add my wow to the noise about it.
It claims to be a book you’d read in one sitting, and were I able to sit for long enough, it certainly would have been. Instead I read until later at night and then woke up earlier than I needed to, to read more.

The story on its own could have been any number of books, some even good. But what makes Donoghue’s telling of the story so amazing is her narrator. I think the story is well known now – a woman and her son live in a single room, captures of a man who visits, abuses the woman and brings them their necessities. The son, Jack, is five, and was born in Room. Room is narrated by Jack.

Jack is completely believable as a 5 year old with wildly slewed development – he is incredibly mature in some ways and so completely immature in others, as might well happen if you lived in just a room with your mother.

That Ma and Jack actually do happen, that there are people who have lived this story as real life made Room so much more powerful. I could not help but think of Fritzl and the women he held captive while reading Room.

A wonderfully told, amazingly real story – I loved it
And I shan’t see the move for fear it may ruin everything.

Be, see, do

Nothing is real until it is on Facebook.

That’s what we say every time we check in or share a photo of something essentially meaningless on any form of social media. We record what we eat, who we meet, where we drink. Everywhere, at every event (and non-event) phones are out taking what are mostly meaningless photos which will never be looked at again.

 

I think that sometimes this insistent need to record record record means that we do not live, experience, see and enjoy what we are actually doing. We are too busy recording and sharing it with people not there to enjoy it with the ones who are.

 

At the Johnny Clegg concert I saw a perfect example of this. The woman in front of us recorded most of the show on her blackberry. Not well enough for it to be destines as a bootleg copy of the show, but enough for her not to have actually looked directly at any of the action on the stage directly. She watched it all through her tiny little screen.

When she lost the image of Johnny Clegg in her screen she frantically moved it about, searching for him, desperate for his to reappear on the screen, when all along he was right there on stage.

 

The pinnacle came when he sang Impi and the entire audience leapt to their feet and danced like crazy. The entire audience barring one. She stood but holding her phone in one hand, recording recording recording. She couldn’t dance because that would have jiggled the phone. So she waved her other arm from the elbow down only, very gently. Like the queen waving.

 

So what happens when she gets home? Does she ever look at her bad recording again? Dvds of the concert are likely to be on sale eventually if she wants to watch it again and none of her friends really want to watch a bad recording of an hour long concert on a blackberry.

 

So rather than actually BE at the show, she recorded it so that later she can maybe look at what she would have seen had she watched it in the first place

 

I don’t get it