I have a relatively sane relationship with food these days. I love it dearly and passionately and still dream of diving naked into a vat of Nutella – but these days it’s not quite as dominant in my thoughts. At the very least not to the detriment of basic things like work, sleep, bathing, etc etc.
Every now and then though, I get that possessed feeling. And more often that not it happens when I’m out of town. Put me on an open road and suddenly there’s nothing in my brain but thoughts of FOOD FOOD FOOD.
Perhaps this stems from the epic voyages of my Australian childhood when my parents rationed one measly Lifesaver per 250 kilometres, but as soon as I’m in a moving vehicle for anything longer than half an hour I think… Ooh I’m kind of peckish. Are we there yet? I start calculating how far it is to the nearest town or motorway services as a mild panic flutters in my stomach… What if I get really hungry? What if I STARVE?
Last month we were heading way up the A9 for a wedding in a tiny village. Despite a generous lunch before we left and an arsenal of fruit and nuts in my handbag my thoughts quickly wandered to chocolate. It’s a pretty boring road, the A9; and as always we were stuck behind a parade of trucks and tourist buses. We inched past magnificent mountains but I was mesmerised by all the signs that warned ROAD LIABLE TO ICING… Mmmm, icing.
It didn’t stop when we got to the Tiny Wee Village either. It really was tiny and wee, and we were going to be there for two whole days and two whole nights! So as soon as we checked into the hotel I said to Gareth, "Let’s go check out the town", which was codespeak for, "Let’s find out where all the food is". I paced down the street
s, scanning the smattering of buildings like a robot. Name. Opening Hours. Prices. Menu. I had to have all the information. All the options. You know, so I wouldn’t STARVE TO DEATH!
On the morning of the wedding we had a full Scottish breakfast at the hotel that would satisfy most stomachs for three weeks, but already I was plotting… Wedding isn’t til 1PM… wonder how long it will go for? What kind of gap will there be between wedding and reception? Is the reception like lunch, or dinner? Should I stuff a sandwich into my handbag? Hmm hmm…
The wedding was lovely despite the relentless rain. I love proper weddings. And then there was a bloody delicious dinner about 4PM… I had the roast beef and my first ever Yorkshire pudding. Ooh yeah baby.
Not long after they cleared the tables ready for the ceilidh – that’s Scottish dancing, take yer partner by the hand and all that. And what do you know, I was still thinking about food, especially now that glass of wine had kicked in. I hear these Highland weddings go on all night. And all that dancing. What if I get hungry again? Huh huh huh?
And that was despite the chocolate fountain. As soon as we’d sat down for dinner I’d noticed a mysterious tower-shaped structure in the corner, wrapped in plastic.
"I reckon that’s a chocolate fountain under there," I’d said casually to Gareth.
I tried to act natural but he kept catching me staring at it. And so began the whispered running commentary throughout our meal:
Oooh lookit that fountain, Shauna!
Wahey! The dude’s taken off the plastic cover!
Ooh, he’s switching it on!
Oooh look, he’s adding the chocolate chips!
He’s getting out his marshmallows now!
And his strawberries!
Are you ready to dip? Are you excited?
Well of course I was bloody excited! It was molten, flowing chocolate, three feet from my nose! But then again, I thought, what if it wasn’t really nice chocolate? Even in the depths of ridiculous possession I still had my lofty standards. Besides, I reckon I could do two trips to the fountain before I’d get an attack of self-consciousness. It could be a long evening. What to do?
Meanwhile the backs of my heels had become all blistered from impractical shoes, so I seized that excuse to wander over to the wee shop before it closed to get some Band-Aids. And a Freddo Frog. It was still chucking down with rain but I risked breaking my neck and/or frizzing my hair to hobble across the street. Stomach comes first!
So we danced and drank and chatted for hours and had a lovely time. I felt like such a goose carrying round my emergency chocolate ration, especially when they wheeled out the tea and sandwiches and wedding cake for supper. But somehow, in the midst of that foody mood… it was so comforting and reassuring to know wee Freddo was there, nestled beside my tissues and lipgloss, just in case I needed him.