Wednesday, 19 March 2014

"Me Versus Food" and Big Brother

Another book by Lionel Shriver, this one Big Brother.  I don't think I have ever read another novel where the main topic is food and like all of Lionel's books, this one too gave me lots of food for thought, no pun intended.
I'm afraid you are going to think I am obsessed with food.  I do spend many hours of the day not thinking of eating, but yet, it is a fascinating topic for me, I confess.  I believe our relationship with food is far more complex than anyone has ever figured out.  In Lionel's book, one of her characters sums up this complexity in a simple thought....eating something, but not very much is the never-ending, daily, hourly challenge. But why is that?
I've read that Karen Blixon (Out of Africa) had no appetite for food; when someone would remind her to eat, she would nibble a few grapes.  Perhaps, as suggested, she really had no appetite for food, or maybe, she had discovered that it is actually easier to eat nothing at all than it is to eat just enough.
I dream of eating the perfect, portion-controlled meal...meat the size of a pack of playing cards, a mere handful of salad, a quarter cup of peas.  But my appetite wars with this picture.  I don't have a bowl big enough for the amount of salad I would need to eat to feel really satisfied. I have to work at fooling myself in a way, choosing with care the food I do eat that will leave me sated.
I always know from one day to the next what I am making for supper.  It is never a chore for me to go to the freezer and pick through to find what I 'm thinking of cooking. Like so many women, cooking is a creative outlet, but it is one fueled by my enjoyment of food and desire to eat. 
I'm told that in very old age, our appetite for food is the last appetite to go.  When I was younger I thought my desire for food would lessen with age, but I think the opposite has happened.  I now have much more time for shopping, planning and preparing meals than when I was part of the working world so it seems I'm according food a bigger focus in my days.
So 'me versus food' continues.  But back to Lionel's wonderfully written book.  This novel, like all her work, explores relationships...husband/wife, siblings, family.  In Big Brother she tackles our relationship with food in modern society and obesity is a constant, grim character in its own right.  I found this story fascinating and thought-provoking. As always, I am looking forward to the next book from this very brave author.