Among the many jokes that my “bitter half” loves to crack at my expense one very irritating one goes something like this: “If Gulf News were to say that pumpkin is the new superfood then I will be served pumpkin for the whole of that week ... And if it’s yoghurt then … !”
I tell you this, not for a laugh at its dubious humour, but to give you a peek into my mind wherein Mr and Mrs Healthy Food occupy a large and spacious room.
News and articles regarding the health benefits of food always catch my eye, and I try and practise what’s preached unto me by including the superfood of the month in my family’s diet. That’s probably a very genteel way of putting it — the truth would be more along the lines of trying to ram it down my family’s throat as best as I can.
That’s because, for family, I have been given a husband who openly scoffs at all healthy food advice, a son who takes fussy eating to whole new levels and a mother who crinkles up her nose if the food veers more towards health than taste.
I try and impress upon them that taste but serves you from lip to gullet whereas it is health that we must ensure in every morsel. Well, let’s just say that I lose the battle almost every day.
I bring you reader, now into my kitchen where I stand next to the stove beside a huge window that gives me a view of the apartment building next door, a mosque and a service road that runs in between. It’s 7am and I am in the midst of preparing tea — a daily ritual that I look forward to.
As I busy myself with setting out the mugs, my eyes fall upon a middle-aged man standing below on the pavement. Dressed in a worn and dusty grey salwar-kameez, his mask pulled down to his chin, he is smoking. I remember noticing him yesterday as well. He stands behind a dusty car, in the shade of the mosque, and puffs away.
Cigarette over, he picks up his bag, and walks off. His shoulders are still a little slouched, but do I imagine a little more vigour in his stride, now that he has had a break?
I can’t be sure, because competing with Ms Kindness and Ms Compassion are my feelings of revulsion towards smoking. I cannot believe that anyone would want to indulge in something that so ruins ones’s body! Hmmmpph!
My tea is boiling now and I turn my attention back to it. The mugs filled, I now reach out by habit for my pot of sugar. The pot itself wears the label of coffee and is topped by an ill-fitting lid, since the original had an untimely demise a while back.
In my mind, Mr and Mrs Healthy Food have suddenly woken up, for they sense an enemy infiltration. They are now screaming in alarm. I pause, very very briefly, my hand on the spoon.
In all my years of trying to keep on the narrow path of healthy eating, I have not been able to abandon my love for a sweet cup of tea. Many a time, I have tried to turn my back on it, but I repeatedly slip and slide off the healthy path into my old ways.
“Just today, maybe ... “ I reason before spooning two teaspoons into my mug. My husband’s cup doesn’t get the same indulgence.
I stir my guilt away vigorously. I then carry it over to a seat, where I enjoy each sip as it makes its way down my throat. Most days, it’s pure bliss!
Maria Elizabeth Kallukaren is a freelance journalist based in Dubai.