Here is some shattering news for you. Did you know that for every hot dog you eat you are reducing your strong life health by 36 minutes? Eat two on the trot and you have mucked up one hour and twelve minutes. Balance this off by gulping down three handfuls of walnuts and you have restored one hour and 18 minutes of increased strong life health.
This is the ignominy that humanity has been reduced to! Right, so from now on how do we plan our arithmetical daily meal intake? Ok, have your calculator handy and start doing some mathematics before preparing meals….
Two hot dogs, two rashers of bacon, some baked beans and a load of chips will have reduced your health by at least three hours. To balance this off, on the following deal gulp down two portions of fresh salmon, a cup of shrimps and a lettuce and cucumber salad and you are back to normal.
How more robotic can we become?
The University of Michigan has carried out a survey covering about 5,800 different foodstuffs and has given a + or – rating to all of them! I don’t know how they arrived at the ratings but I guess the various items, fats, acids, cholesterol and sugar content were all taken into account.
What has all of this to do with Malta and Gozo you may well ask?
Well, our islands are listed as among the highest in Europe suffering obesity problems despite concerted drives to create more awareness of food intake and the need to keep active and exercise. Some of this has been adopted by the younger generations but for all us older folk the battle is lost before it begins.
Let us begin with delicious crunchy bread of which we consumed truck loads in childhood and persisted into our adulthood. When fresh it is tasty and crunchy and as you consume the first slice, you just have to go on and on.
The recipe is simple enough, flour, yeast and salt, kneaded with a few drops of olive oil or otherwise margarine – and then well baked until crusty all round. The formats are two, a rounded loaf or a circular holed ring known as a “ftira”.
The simplest and most delicious form for eating is a fresh, crispy “ftira” or slices of bread, topped with olive oil and spread with sliced fresh tomatoes or spread with tomato puree, with fresh mint or basil and loaded with canned tuna and sliced olives and generously sprinkled with pepper and salt. A further embellishment may be feta-type cheese.
I can virtually guarantee that if you were to ask around here what do you prefer – fresh rump steak, French cuisine, Indian cuisine, Indian cuisine, fish ‘n chips etc, the immediate answer would be as described above, Maltese bread or a “ftira” with the ingredients listed.
This is simple, unpretentious and delicious to the palate. In the past this was of course the basic food for the masses of poor and resembled in the south of Italy and Sicily and out of this emerged the basic Pizza Margerita with its topping.
So, who cares about surveys and analysis? We only live once and nothing beats palate satisfaction.
The Michigan University report concluded that the plus factors include:
The minus factors include:
Moving away from bread, the next most favoured plate around here is spaghetti with a tomato salsa paste and doused in olive oil; fresh fish in season; a Maltese sausage stew piled with stewed potatoes, carrots, garlic and peas, with loads of gravy. The sausage is minced pork mixed with coriander, garlic and parsley.
There are of course many other delectable plates such as marrows stuffed with minced pork and baked, or pasta with prawns. The pictures show these two delicious dishes prepared by my brother Edward who is a first class chef and has devoted a lifetime to cooking as a hobby. It runs in the family, except for my paternal grandfather Nannu Gianni who spent a lifetime as a professional officers’ chef in the Royal Navy.
My final assessment – stuff all the + and – minus factors, stuff all the guidance of what to eat/not eat. I eat what I want and as I like while also being fully aware on what causes long-term harm.
No Yankee University from Michigan or elsewhere is going to dictate what I will eat.
In the meanwhile, experiments have been rapidly advancing on the development of robots replacing humans to perform various works. How long will it be before robots take over the world?
In any case, we have already become programmed robots, strictly having to conform to systems, being told what to eat and what not to eat, to drink and what not to drink.
In days of yore it used to be said of a person undergoing a prison sentence that “he is on a diet of only bread and water”. Some institutions are going a long way to reach this stage.
In addition the EU constantly issues warnings on non-healthy items, mainly because they contain pesticide ingredients that are banned by the EU but not elsewhere in the world. During the last month virtually every brand of international ice-cream has been “warned” it may be a danger to health.
However, around here we are a Mediterranean people, hard-headed, obstinate and we love our stomachs, so – stuff them!
P.S. I am NOT obese.
e/mail – email@example.com
“The eye is the first to eat”.
The eye has to be pleased before the stomach is satisfied.