The tux doesn’t lie. At some point in the past few months, the torso it was bought to cover has decided it wants to express itself more fully. After struggling with the button for a while, I decide to leave it open, as if trying to evoke the image of one of the Rat Pack sauntering back to his Las Vegas hotel room in the early hours.
Putting on a tuxedo is like a meeting a friend you haven’t seen in a while. A particularly blunt friend. A friend who has no compunction about telling you you’ve put on weight. At times like that you need to consider getting a new friend – which costs a couple of hundred euro, moving your friend’s button a little closer to the edge or taking a long hard look at yourself and wondering where your feet have gone.
It’s not a big pot belly but in many ways it is the more damning than proper rotundity. A fat man’s belly says: ‘I am a fat man. I have been for some time, long before you met me. Look at me in profile and you will see a big proud capital D. Deal with it.’
The lower case ’b’ of a slimmer man’s pot says represents a more recent letting-go. It says: ‘Look what I just made‘
Given that the word that could be best to describe my behaviour in the gym would ‘languor’, it’s time to look at supply side of the economy. I predict a diet.
In recent months, a lot of what I’ve eaten involved some form of offal . So in the past week, I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons. New words and phrases have entered my food lexicon.
I’ve had ‘Living food’. Living does not mean crawling. It’s not a serving of insects in a grubby basket offered to Indiana Jones by a well-meaning resident in an impoverished remote village.
Raw or living food includes organic fruit, vegetables, leaves and sprouted seeds which contain enzymes that would otherwise be destroyed by cooking. These enzymes are essential for a healthy balanced life. For example lintase reduces the risk that you will leave a tissue in the pocket of your jeans. Hamesalase can help you avoid making a hames of something. Living food also stimulates hormones like smugterone which helps counteract the harmful effects of the increased smugness caused by eating healthily.
Accepting this kind of food requires a suppression of in-built finickiness though. A plate of it is not always pretty to look at. There can be so much greenery that eating it resembles the feeling one gets while looking through a hedge.
It’s just another step on the road to recovery for me from a childhood of some really quixotically picky eating. Some of it stems from being a nervous small boy who assembled a long and odd list of things I was afraid of. To run away from a barking dog was understandable, a pecking hen can appear terrifying to a toddler, but banana skins? And it wasn’t that I was afraid of slipping on them in a comically slapstick way. Banana skins just frightened me with their semblance of lurking, spotty yellowness.
As the years went on, previously shunned foods have been rehabilitated – which is just as well because some strange edibles are about to hit the O’Regan food-presses. Things like Chia seeds – which are apparently the latest big thing . Chia is known as the super-food of the Aztecs and contains many essential minerals and vitamins – just the kind of tonic you need for a day spent enslaving neighbouring tribes and practicing human sacrifice.
With the wealth of information about healthy eating that’s out there it can be bewildering to try and figure out what to pick. But there’s one food that’s on everyone’s list: porridge. I haven’t always had an easy relationship with the stuff. I was, of course, afraid of it at one stage. One of my earliest memories is sitting at the table heaping sugar onto a rapidly cooling bowl of porridge watching the grains caramelise and which turned the surface of the porridge the colour of sitting-room carpet. And made it more and more inedible.
The other problem with porridge was that the any free gifts you got with it required far more perseverance than the ‘I must have It now’ nature of the Kelloggs box. If Kelloggs were had a giveaway with their sugared salty flakes, it was in the box. Gratification was instant. Flahavan’s Progress Oatlets released gifts in much the same way the porridge itself releases energy into the body, slowly.
To this day, the only thing we ever had enough tokens for from Flahavans was a packet of playing cards. A family of four growing sons and two parents could not eat enough porridge even for a pair of oven-gloves. And by the time we did collect enough, the offer had expired. I imagined our envelope of tokens being opened at Flahavan HQ by an old man sweeping the floor of an empty office who said to himself. “Bath-towels? There hasn’t been a free bath towels offer in these here parts for the last twenty years”. You would have to be family of dray-horses to eat enough oats in time – but would dray horses do with a set of three saucepans.
Despite all that, I respect Flahavans porridge for the strong, silent hero it is. Its fashionable status now is like finding out the coolest person you know thinks your parents are sound. But Porridge must not be taken for granted. It can be your greatest friend or – when you forget to rinse out the bowl afterwards and find it hardened like poured concrete a day later and have to throw away the bowl and the spoon – your worst enemy.
After breakfast, today’s food-experiment involves goji berries. Wikipedia says goji contains 18 amino acids so that must be good. Although these goji berries are covered in chocolate. The tux will just have to stay open.