I spent the last week of my holiday on an enforced diet. It was horrible. A friend of mine who works in tourism had got us a great deal in a 4 star hotel in Sicily and I have to say the place was beautiful (the picture above is the view from our room). Unfortunately the food was absolutely disgusting. And we were full board. And we were miles from anywhere...
Now I am a fussy eater at the best of times, I have to admit. Not in the sense that I won’t eat many foods because actually I’ll eat pretty much anything apart from bell peppers and large amounts of raw garlic (and not because I don’t like them but because they really don’t like me!). No, what I’m fussy about is the quality of the food I eat. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a mum who cooked great food, maybe it’s because my Dad took me to the best restaurants from a very young age and passed on his love of fine dining. Maybe it’s years spent at boarding school being forced to eat truly revolting meals. Whatever the reason, I cannot, will not, eat badly prepared, low quality food.
It was really quite awful. All meals were served buffet style and I found myself faced, three times a day, with rows of tables, groaning under the weight of platter after platter of bad food. The ingredients were cheap and of poor quality, the cooking was sloppy and everything tasted wrong. Even my other half who is the opposite of fussy (and often complains about my exacting standards) found himself staring glumly at his plate and picking reluctantly at the gloopy mess on offer, agreeing with me that it was downright awful.
I was thrown right back to my dieting days...wanting so badly to eat but not being able to, hungry a lot of the time and constantly, desperately searching for “something nice”. I drank a lot of Coke and practically lived off these dry, tasteless biscuits they served at breakfast (a sort of bad version of Rich Tea biscuits) which at least didn’t make me want to gag. I’d stuff my pockets with them in the morning and nibble on them all day. It was hugely dissatisfying.
The whole experience reminded me of what it’s like. I have been so comfortable around food for so long now that I sometimes forget what it was like back in the old days when I surrendered control and put myself on some ridiculously restrictive regime, forcing myself to eat tiny quantities of tasteless food. Back in the days when large chunks of my day were spent thinking, obsessing about food. Thinking about what I could eat, what was available on my meagre rations and what I wanted to eat, what I craved. Back in the days when eating or thinking about food was always accompanied by feelings of anxiety and frustration. Back in the days when I was always on the lookout for ways to beat the ‘system’ and spent a lot of time day dreaming about the wonderful foods I couldn't have. It reminded me that there are millions of women out there who CHOOSE to live like this and of just how stressful it can be.
Of course I survived and we made up for by going out for a fantastic seafood meal at one of Palermo’s best restaurants on our last day. One of the best I’ve ever had. And just like every other ‘diet’ I’ve come off in the past I stuffed my face. I shoveled the food in, ate with my fingers in a frenzied delight and ate and ate and ate until I couldn’t eat another crumb. Heaven.