Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A surprising and irregular diet

What I am about to write about may surprise my regular readers and shock those who read this for the first time. Though I am in a rural farming set-up, I personally have a very poor diet and a spartan and irregular one at that. For many Sri Lankans living overseas who salivate at the thought of the delicacies available here, I am not one so fortunate living in rural SL!

It is nearly 4 years since I returned after a lifetime overseas, primarily in the US and UK. I am 35lbs lighter than on my return. I feel generally healthy and have only had a couple of flus since and not the mosquito borne diseases of chickengunya and dengue which most people I know here have contracted.

I did not grow up on rice and curry and I did not live in a SL household, The British boarding school food of baked beans on toast, or oily fried egg and fried bread was what I knew and mash made from smash! Therefore a good soup and bread is a delicacy, and bland food with a sauce is a preferred choice.

My dinner under kerosene safety lamp light last night in Hingurakgoda was, a plain salad of cucumber, tomato, garlic and large onions, and kurakkan flour noodles(red) a poor substitute for fettuccine or penne pasta that I like, garnished with a tasty home made ketchup, from the unsellable tomato, and a salad dressing made from Virgin Olive oil and salt and pepper. The Olive oil was courtesy of a maid who now works in Cyprus, who sent me a can to last me a while. This was washed down with fresh King Coconut.

I never got used to eating curry as I always thought the vegetables are overcooked. Even the regular chopped mallun is avoided, because I don’t like the fresh coconut mixed with it. I prefer the lightly chopped raw leaves of passion fruit or gus nivithi or gotukola from the garden, which no one eats here in this form. I also don’t eat much in the way of fruit except in fruit salad form when left overs from the shop are used due to some flaw in the fruit which customers avoid. Some of this fruit is also used for fresh juice.

After making my own basmati rice my way with butter and crust in the bottom of the pan in Iranian style, something that is not available here (Shamshiri rice in Westwood, CA) the parboiled rice is not my scene. Here in the village I eat what my staff eat and so rice is just to avoid hunger.
One should bear in mind that subsistence farmers, usually reserve the best produce for his customers and only consumes what he cannot sell so that holds true for me also. I don’t feel deprived, trust me, a sale is money!

I don’t have home help, so I intermittently get the odd dish cooked for me in a manner of my preference, the most recent being, fresh sprats, the cheapest fish in the shop that day, battered with bread-crumbs and flour, which was simply delightful. This was done as there was another person for dinner and I wanted to give him something tasty. That days price was Rs 120/- for 500g. My lifestyle is one on the go so meals are grabbed in different locations in a day if I am lucky. Trust me I am working towards regularity.

In a strange way I cannot remember when I had a regular 3 meal day and that may have been decades ago at boarding school. This is in complete contrast to all my staff who must have their regular 3 meals as otherwise they cannot function. It is no myth I know as I have to make allowances always for their meal times even if I am skipping a meal in the interests of my livelihood.

I drink plenty of Fresh Ceylon Tea with excellent water and fresh milk from my cows. Even 6 star hotels in Sri Lanka do not offer that, something I will cover in another one of my tirades about the SL hospitality sector. I also drink the best Organic Green Tea in the world from the tea factory that produces the smallest quantity of tea, More about that story another time.

I am not complaining here about my lot, just giving a reader the basic facts of my diet and he can make whatever conclusion he wants. I am however fortunate from time to time to be invited out to eat at a fancy restaurant or a party, like last Friday, for my Aunt’s birthday, where the food at her home was delightful and I ate much not knowing from whence my next meal would come.

It is true to say that I never think of food though I really enjoy eating food I like, though moments later I can never remember what it is I ate! I love a fresh spaghetti bolognaise or a good selection of sushi. A tasty bread pudding or caramel for dessert is certainly something to savor.

In conclusion the reason for my loss of weight is not due to exercise, healthy eating or careful diet. It is simply out of not knowing when my next meal will be, what it will comprise, who will prepare or provide it. That’s life!


santhoshi said...

Your blog is very interesting.... I enjoyed reading your posts..

Anonymous said...

What about your wife ? Does she not cook or am I missing something obvious here as you do speak of family of six. Yes, but you hardly ever write about how they are adjusting to the situation.

It must be quite a shock for the kids plus spouse , to be transplanted in this manner.

How are they adjusting ?

Anonymous said...

Hi Ranjith,
I have been browsing your blog entries, it's really very interesting!

However, I think it's important to get at least 3 square meals a day. I don't think you should be sacrificing your health by not eating properly.