Oscar has a thing about jelly at the moment, a very toddler 'thing'. He's really into it. He likes the way it wobbles - makes him giggle every time. He loves the bright, lurid colours it comes in. He loves making it, patiently stirring to dissolve the gelatine, his little face a picture of concentration. He loves eating it, squishing it with his tongue against his teeth. So far we've made clementine jelly, mango jelly, orange jelly and banana jelly (no, it wasn't a success, as I had predicted). We've also eaten our way through Hartley's technicolour assortment of flavours with the alarmingly fluorescent green one (lime) a firm favourite.
Watching my little boy have having so much fun, being so excited and so immersed in jelly has led me to reflect on how little we let ourselves get genuinely excited about anything as adults, in particular about food. For every time I hear a woman raving about something she's eating, I've heard another 1000 worrying about it. Worrying about fat content, calculating points and calories, berating themselves for eating it, wondering how many hours at the gym it will take to get rid of it. Food so often isn't a source of pleasure, it's a source of guilt and shame and anxiety. And when it's not about weight-loss we are worrying about which foods to eat and which ones to avoid to: live longer/beat cancer/look younger/lower cholesterole/fill in the blank. Eating becomes a science. It's not, it's one of life's most basic and enjoyable activities - like sleeping and sex.
This is what I love about Beyond Chocolate. We have a whole principle devoted to this - to enjoyment, not sex that is!
Enjoy food. Let yourself have love affairs. Revel in the colours, the textures, the smells. Really let yourself get into something. Taste or cook all the variations you can find. Throw your tastebuds a party. Give them something to rave about.
If you're not sure how to go about enjoying food, if you feel you've lost the innate ability to do so, I can highly recommend spending an afternoon with a toddler in the throes of the current infatuation. The delight, the sheer abandon and the authentic pleasure they take in eating that particular food is inspiring.
I can feel the jelly thing is starting to dwindle. It's not the the first thing he talks about when he wakes up in the morning now and there's been a mango jelly in the fridge for a few days now. How exciting, who knows what the next 'thing' will be...chorizo?...kiwis?