From The Healthy Heart: Day Fifty
On Sunday morning my husband and I leave for The Cotswolds for our anniversary celebration. We will be staying in a village inn which has won the Conde Nast award for best inn of the year. The restaurant is apparently very fine too and we are booked in for dinner. It does not sound like a low-fat venue and is aptly named The Lamb.
En route to the small village in which we shall be housed, we will stop off in Oxford to see an exhibition. The artist in question, Jenny Saville, paints humungous canvasses on which are depicted enormous women. These are not Rubenesque ladies, reclining coyly amongst bunches of grapes and platters of fruit. They are no-holds barred close-ups of the body, huge folds of flesh and acres of cellulite. They are brilliant depictions of the female form, a complete counter to every image of women that we absorb daily like pictorial musak. Strong stuff.
Our arrival at The Lamb will probably coincide with tea time. Oh how my affections are stirred by the sight of a tea tray! When out of the metropolis, such trays require at least two large, but light, scones accompanied by local strawberry jam and clotted cream. Otherwise what’s the point of being in the countryside? The bucolic idyll is not comprised alone of long walks and sheep poo.
I plan to dress for dinner and hope to be undressed thereafter. What happens in between is what is bothering me. Do I say ‘sod it’ and indulge all my senses or tiptoe on the outskirts of the menu minding my manners? Heart health or heart’s desire? One of the ingredients of a happy marriage, I have found, is the mutual satisfaction of all one’s appetites. Some are low-fat options and even involve a bit of exercise. Others consist of trying, after 15 years of marriage, not to order the same dishes from the menu. For else, where’s the give and take, the bartering of a slice of this for a morsel of that; the slight envy that your partner may have ordered the superior dish yet you are happy for them? Not much fun when your dining partner has ordered grilled fish – hold the buttery sauce.
I have always thought that women who refuse to eat much of anything must make somewhat boring dinner partners. So much of the pleasure of food is in the sharing of the joy of it. When women lunch together there is often an unspoken understanding that certain menu items are off limits. But when out with one’s lover, surely there should be no holds barred? There is carnal in the carnivorous. A well hung steak is sex on a plate. A fish fillet can only flap about flaccidly.
The Lamb Inn understands these things and serves breakfast in bed for those who require it. I am one of those. I imagine a silver tray with hot buttered toast, marmalade and a full English breakfast. All in bed! Oh stop! Stop! Or should that be ‘don’t stop’? That is the question!