Sunday, April 18, 2010

Like Broccoli For Gorgonzola

Just finished reading Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel again (rereads FTW!). It is, as I remembered it, not a great read by any means (I just want to smack Pedro, ugh!), and way too romance novel-esque for my usual tastes. So what brought me back for another read? The food. The beauty of this book is the enticing way that food is entwined with the story (this is translated very well in the visually sumptuous movie of the same name, and I would actually recommend watching that over the book unless you are particularly interested in food or generally enjoy the romance genre.). Each chapter begins with a recipe, and the action unfolds as what they eat and how they prepare it takes on near mythical proportions in the lives of the central characters. I like this idea of the power of food to create a sense of home and tradition, to evoke memories, to bind people together, to speak of emotions, and to enrich each day as it comforts, sustains and delights us. The fact that the act of eating, so necessary for our survival, can also be so pleasurable is truly a gift.

For example I wake up every morning looking forward to a well made cup of Earl Grey tea. Such a simple thing, but every morning I am comforted by its warmth and aroma as it helps to ease my most emphatically non-morning self into my day. (it also very much helps that the DH makes it for me whenever he can, tea made by someone who loves you tastes twice as good as tea you make yourself...I am not exactly sure of the scientific principles behind this, but I know it's a fact)

I have been thinking a great deal about my relationship with food lately (likely the reason for the rereading of Like Water For C), because I am slimming down. I am saying no to the sugar and the cheese. No to the second helping. No to the wine with dinner and the after dinner drink. No to the chocolate. (there may have been a small tear in the corner of my eye as I said that last one...*sniff*) For the first few days of the "slimming regime" (not calling it a diet, I hate that word) I was feeling pretty deprived. Craving sugar like a mad woman, hungry all the time, and I mean body was calling "food, food, food" like a drunken frat boy chanting "chug" by the keg, and it was a constant fight to ignore it. I wasn't starving, I'd just gotten used to eating too much, and particularly too much sugar. In my defense the DH works for a
major confectionery company and our house is full of samples...

*whispers in voice reverberating with awe* Choc-O-late samples.

I am a mere woman made of flesh & blood, not stone. Can you feel my pain? My husband is Willy Wonka, and I have gained about 22 pounds in the last 3-4 years.

But time for a change.

After the first few days it suddenly got way easier. I realized how balanced and healthy our diet is, sans all the extra calories from sweets and with a few adjustments (no cheese, no booze, smaller portions, a little more fruit & veg), the extra pounds have begun to come off.

But the beautiful thing, and the point I am trying to come to here, is that not only has my love affair with food not been stymied by more spartan habits, but it has been enhanced. My tastebuds, inundated with sugar and blanketed in cocoa butter, were failing to appreciate the simpler fare. I can't even describe how good a lovely organic apple is tasting to me sweet, how complex! And the food I've been preparing for self and family is getting rave reviews. I think this is because what is going into our food right now (after those first few days), isn't a sense of scarcity and depravation, but a sense of joy in the simple things and an increase in care for every nutrient they provide...and I swear we can taste it.

Now don't get me wrong, I am going to be really glad when I am back to maintenance calories and can add back in that slice of brie, glass of wine (or two) and occasional dessert. Really glad. But for now at least, I am relieved and kind of surprised that my food lust is working for me not against me in this endeavour. Yay! Because I just can NOT be one of those "food is for fuel only" people...that is like saying sex is only for procreation! Nein, nein, nein. Food is for pleasure. For celebrations. For creativity. For comfort. For friends and families coming together around a table to share their meals and their lives. But happily, simple, healthful foods can fit the bill for these with pleasing grace.

So in honour of the food and the book, and people who love food (a lot) but don't want to end up breaking the bathroom scale, a recipe. Simple and healthy, but good to eat.

Broccoli Soup
-sauté 1 onion in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent, (add a few grinds of pepper as you sauté)
-add broccoli and cauliflower broken into florets (the ratio should be 2:1 more broccoli than cauliflower...when last I made this I had about 750g of broccoli and half as much cauliflower. This can be made nicely without the cauliflower, but the cauliflower does add an undertone of sweetness and some creaminess to the texture)
-cover with good flavourful chicken stock (if using commercially made, make sure it has no MSG and check the sodium levels, some are disgustingly salty)
-add a couple tbsp of fresh thyme or a tsp of dried

And that's it! Simmer until your veg are tender, add about a cup of milk (add soy milk and veg stock instead of the chicken above if you want to keep this vegan) and then puree to desired consistency (my boys like it perfectly smooth, I would rather a leetle texture. You may need to add more stock to get the consistency just right, and then heat through again). Adjust seasoning, and eat plain or garnish with things like fresh chopped parsley or thyme, diced tomatoes or cheese...a grating of old cheddar, a crumble of feta or to elevate this dish to something a little special, a few slivers of Gorgonzola.

And whatever you are eating, enjoy your food!
You know I will be.


  1. great recipe love!! I will try it! yummy!

  2. Oh yum! I'm trying to eat more veggies, too bad about the dip! and more fresh healthy food too. I think I'll be a much happier person and getting taste buds back is a great perk! Salt is my current nemesis, I like things salty, and I'm sure my heart would prefer me to stay away!
    Can't wait to try your soup, yum yum yum.
    Just ate some leftover easter chocolates, though and I'm not sure if I am ready to break up with chocolate! Happy reading and eating. If you can make it through, Last Nigh in Twisted River is steeped in cooking, especially Italian, it made me want to cook again.

  3. What a beautiful post! I totally get and agree what you are saying about food and really TASTING it, and cleaning your palate when you eat healthier..and food is a joy! I might try that recipe thank you :)

  4. I totally agree with this post, Evangeline. I love food. Everything about it. The rituals, the celebrations, the stories and memories of it.
    Best wishes on your slimming down!

  5. i am totally a person one where 'feed me and i'm yours' applies =P i get the slim down theme, although for me it involves more how i feel about my bod when it is thinner---in an odd way i feel 'safer' heavier, although i don't like heavier--a conundrum duel between my conscious and subconscious selves--one i have yet to resolve--i have been contemplating blogging about it...

    i have a workout buddie and we share our fittness accomplishments and that is very affirming (went for a walk today--yays!) and i stay away from white sugar as much as possible (just got some organic, water processed beet sugar, fair trade mint dark chocolate on sale-i'm a chocoholic so this is better than impulse 'bad' chocolate lol).

    but i am with you on the prepared food is full of the spirit of the creator. i feel like cooking is a kind of alchemy, magic and love and nature all colliding to make nomness. one of these days i so have to sample to magic of the chef E *sigh*

  6. I get the safer heavier thing, completely. I've been thinking about it lately too, and if you figure it warrants a blog post I will be there to discuss. :)

    And dark chocolate is good, and good for you! I just can't seem to do it in moderation (addictive personality FTL!), so I had to just quit cold turkey...for awhile.


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