Up until about ten years ago I used to smoke. Something I noticed that smokers rarely do is work out how much each cigarette costs. I never found myself thinking “this smoke is costing me 20p”. I just Googled how much 20 fags cost now and I bet very few people these days think “this is costing me 30 pence a pop”.
It can be helpful to think like this though, especially if you are trying to cut down or give up.
To the average dieter the problem is chocolate. I have never had a particularly sweet tooth but even I have had the occasional craving. Not for something wrapped in purple foil that seems to be made mainly from sugar and chalk but for proper chocolate.
I thought a good strategy would be to buy a one hundred percent cocoa solids bar which, whilst definitely giving a chocolate hit, is so bitter that anything bigger than the size of your little fingernail is too much. The chocolate taste will last a long time in the mouth but struggles past the bitterness.
A few weeks ago on Twitter Flavours of Spain were talking about their new line: The Best 6 by Oriol Balaguer . An idea formed that maybe by eating chocolates that cost £1.65 each would give the hit whilst the price would be sobering enough to stop them all being eaten in one go. It worked in as much as six sweets lasted the two of us all night.
The most remarkable thing about the chocolates as a collection is their lightness. The shell of each seems to melt in the mouth almost without you noticing which means the flavour of the filling almost creeps up on you.
Sticking to my belief that pop-rocks should be banned by the Geneva Convention I bravely volunteered Debbie to try the Mascleta. It was, she reported, lovely. But as she actually likes space dust I think her judgement could be called into question. While she exhibited signs of pleasant enthusiasm eating it I tried the Saffron flavour (Debbie thinks saffron tastes of bleach). I have often found that there is a very fine line between too little saffron to taste and so much that it overpowers every other flavour but the balance was just right in this chocolate giving it a nice twist.
The Yuzu was a wonderful white chocolate with a delicate citrus taste to it.
I have to admit that, whilst we thoroughly enjoyed the Olive Oil chocolate, we couldn’t actually taste any olive oil.
The texture of the chocolate with Corn Nuts was great with a soft filling alternating with crunch. The star of the box, though, was the Black Truffle. As the filling dissolved on my tongue I felt as if there was some sort of feedback loop at work as the chocolate taste seemed to get deeper and deeper as the truffle enhanced the flavour. If I had opened the box and found that due to some packaging accident there were only two of these inside and four empty spaces I don’t think I would have been disappointed.
As an exercise in eating less overall I think it worked well. I could have bought a 1kg bar of Dairy Milk for about the same price but if I had eaten that all I would feel now is sick and slightly dirty whereas I can close my eyes two days after eating it and remember the wonderful taste of the Black Truffle chocolate.
When my son lived with us he and I would have a particular dish on nights when Debbie was out. I am a tad lazy in that I won’t cook if I am the only one eating so I haven’t cooked this dish since he moved out. On Friday Debbie was out and I was going to see the rather excellent Therapy? play with my friend Niall. Rather than eat out I decided to cook the dish and I was reminded how much I like it.
1 tin white crab meat per person
Red chillies (as many as you fancy: this works as well with a light touch as with a lot of heat: personally I think one finger sized chilli per person is about right but if you are not a great chilli fan you could use a lot less), topped
Garlic (as with the chillies you can play this by taste: for two of us I used eight cloves but I did have to spend the rest of the evening avoiding eye contact when talking to people in case I inadvertently breathed on them), peeled
25g Fresh Basil
Olive Oil (as much or as little as you like)
Pasta (I prefer something like spaghetti or linguine for this dish)
Blend, liquidise or grind the garlic and chillies with a little oil until you have a paste. Fry this mixture for a few minutes then add the drained crab meat and basil. When warmed through stir into cooked pasta. Add more olive oil if you are not on a diet.
Another thing I remembered I had a liking for on Friday night was Jack Daniels and coke. Luckily I didn’t indulge myself enough for to ruin the effort I put into the diet. At weigh in tonight I had lost another six pounds. Two more to go and I have lost four stone.