A DIET OF MILK AND HONEY

After a gap of about 50 years, i return to the sort of diet my mother gave me as a child. i did not do this consciously. Following a morning of exclusively fresh fruit and water, i found myself craving a "plain" vegetable soup. And it was while coarsely chopping the vegetables, that i thought of my dear mother - always in a hurry to prepare meals etc, etc, for her 4 children, born in the space of 10 years. How she would worry if her period was late !! We shared this anxiety with her - at least, i know i did. My parents did want to raise a family - but there was no planning. And the doctor-cousins of my mum, considered that too many children were thrust upon her small frame, at too young an age and with unwanted regularity. Ah well, it was not so bad - tho we struggled financially during the fifties. We managed with mum's economical and thrifty BUT healthy cooking, aided by my father's "Diet Reform" ideas. Not exclusively vegetarian, but pretty damned near !! The non-vegetarian part of a wholesome soup would be the added marrow-bones we got for nothing, from the local butcher, who thought we were giving them to the family dog. We did not have a dog !!

Anyway - MILK AND HONEY. Yes, they were part of our diet, but this was the term used by the first dentist my older brother and i visited. There were no cavities and no problems. The dentist was unused to this and warmly said to my mother = "You've obviously raised them on MILK & HONEY." My mother glowed with pride. Compliments, in a foreign country, were hard-won. Tho, over the years, they did mount-up!! She was a beautiful and fun-loving woman (all her life.)

My mother would have used olive oil to sautee the vegetables for soup - (i don't cook with oil. i do not like to heat-up oils and rarely add even raw, cold-pressed oils to salads or anything.) As we got more money, by the time my younger brother was born, there were chicken carcasses to add to the vegetable soups, the high-light of which, was to pick every scrap of meat off the bones, once the soup had been devoured. We ate what we were given. We enjoyed everything we were given. And there was no choice. But it was not "take it or leave it", as we enjoyed every crumb and every morsel...and every uncooked lump in the semolina puddings !! ..And the junket, when it curdled, was still happily devoured.

My diet of the last 2 days has included lots of fruit; lots of salad; the soup!!; self-baked spelt bread; lightly-steamed vegetables; a little basil tofu; dare i say, that i bought and consumed a little unpasteurised, french goat's cheese - (no need for B12 tablets on this irreverent vegan diet of mine !!) and lots and lots of water. Ah, the stuffed vine-leaves, a few nuts, chocolate soya pudding ....is that it ? Oh, a glass of Mateuse Rose, these last 2 evenings. That sounds great - but in fact, i did not enjoy the alcohol. i drink for taste and flavour, not for the effect...and i do not enjoy that heavy feeling, especially when twinned with sitting zazen. It seems to me, lately, that alcohol itself has a heavy flavour - and i do not like it !! For i am a man brought-up on the sweetness of milk and honey, from a mother's own loving and honeyed breast.


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