Lifetimes ago, when I had a very uncomfortable relationship with food, I avoided fat with a pathological obsession.
I would watch my ex-husband eat half an avocado with horror, used God awful olive 'lite' spray with which to saute (I could never countenance the word 'fry'), skirted around nuts, counted and recorded the number of stolen crisps from my ex's packet of Hula-Hoops, removed any trace of whiteness from a piece of meat (back in the days when I ate the stuff) and convinced myself that an equation existed whereby the addition of essential oily fish to my diet equaled in gigantic thighs. Not a healthy, nor rational, way to exist.
Thankfully wisdom and a desire to be look after myself has come with age and now I relish the silky character that avocado lends to my homemade sushi handrolls, use olive oil liberally to sweat onions and celery, take enormous pleasure in my daily cracking of walnut shells to access the rich meat inside and try to ensure that if I don't get round to eating oily fish, then I at least take capsules containing their goodness.
But there is one food that still challenges me when I'm feeling a bit low. Cheese.
Being intolerant to cow's dairy I have a natural excuse to avoid the yellow stuff, but my stomach can take small amounts of goats and sheeps cheeses and yet my mind still balks at the fat content. I would never buy a block, let alone a sliver for myself and so tend to celebrate catering for others with a good-looking cheese board.
Last night was no exception. After a hearty and robust fish stew (I've blogged it before so won't bore you again although this time added butter beans), we dined on lactic acid - one cow and three goat. The wine flowed, the cow was polished off by my guests and I was left, to my dismay, with a substantial quantity of cheese which I could actually eat. Not letting myself cave in to the temptation to slide the lot into the waiting and hungry bin, I forced myself to pop it into the fridge. Where it sits, planning it's calorific assault on my arse.
Determined to dispel old behaviours, I re-introduced the cheeses to their board and ate a Sunday lunch of fromage, celery, cucumber, apple and a couple of mejdool dates. Washed down with a large glass of Australian Shiraz, a shot of coffee and accompanied by the tranquil tones of Pink Martini. And boy, it was good.
Tomme de Chevre
A texture that lies between hard and soft with an incredible depth of flavour. Reminds me of garlic for no good reason. A sumptuous luxury.
Murcia al Vino
This has a creamy consistency and a slight tannic twang (the rind is soaked in red wine) which is balanced by a gentle acidity and touch of citrus fruit.
This is a mousse like cheese, light and airy with hints of lemon and grass. Divine with celery and would be the perfect partner to a steely Chablis or Sauvignon Blanc.
So, more fat in one meal than I would normally consume in a whole day but when coming down with a cold on a chilly Sunday, sometimes a little lard is required. And yes, I did go bananas at the gym this morning in anticipation and no, I can't promise that the remainder of the cheeses will resist the call of the bin, but at least I tried.