Friday, February 10, 2006

Food glorious food

Two contrasting food books caught my eye recently.

A couple of weeks ago, the Guardian featured a roadkill recipe book, in which the author describes such delicacies as "Hedgehog spaghetti carbonara". I'm not sure I would go that far myself, but I did once pick up a freshly-killed pheasant. In fact it was so fresh it was not even quite dead when we got to it - we'd seen a puff of feathers as the car in front disappeared round a corner. Sadly we were only spending a weekend at my parents' house, and Dad insisted (correctly) that it had to hang for a week, by which time we had gone home. So we didn't even get to taste it.

The JT takes a look at a more conventional approach which has brought long life and health to Japan. I'm not sure there is any particular magic ingredient - it's common sense that a population which eats modest portions of fresh fish and vegetables, and generally walks and cycles moderate distances rather than sitting in a car, is going to be healthy (the only real vices are too much salt and pickles, the latter of which leads to an abnormally high rate of stomach cancer). It has to be said that having to chow down a bowl of plain steamed white rice with every meal leaves me, if not exactly losing the will to live, certainly losing the will to eat. So it's not surprising that people are so thin - it's rare I see someone here who would be considered overweight in the UK. On our first visit to Japan, jules and I each lost about half a stone in a week: we now keep our weight up with a weekend diet of baked potatoes and a regular circuit of several really good restaurants (mostly "Western-style", if you count a proper Indian curry as such) round here. Our canteen is really excellent, actually. But there's a limit to how much rice and pickles I can face in a week.

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