Health and Fitness

Is wine better for the stomach than hot chips and tomato sauce? A Granfield debate.

Matt: Hey Darling, you know how your tummy felt a bit funny the other night?

Bec: Yes.

Matt: I’m just worried it’s your diet. What did you eat yesterday?

Bec: Weet-Bix for breakfast, and then a milo. Coke zero and a chocolate chip muesli bar for morning tea. A Vegemite sandwich for lunch. A chocolate when I got home, and then cheese for dinner.

Matt: And what did you have the day before that?

Bec: The same.

Matt: What are you having today?

Bec: Pretty much the same thing, although it’s the weekend so I’ll probably have cheese for an entrée in the evening and then whatever you cook. We’re not having vegetables are we?

Matt: I was going to make some.

Bec: Can we have fish and chips instead?

Matt: We had a big night the other night so I was going to try and be healthy. What about fish and some steamed veges?

Bec: If you steam the potato before you turn it into chips and deep fry it, I’m in. Is that how Heston does his thrice-cooked chips?

Matt: Yes, sort of, but, I was thinking we should have some other vegetables as well. Maybe some asparagus, dutch carrots, brocollini and a salsa of red capsicum onion and coriander. And maybe a little home made aioli on the side.

Bec: Yuck. Just chips for me. With tomato sauce.

Matt: You know the fat kid, from Hey Dad?

Bec: Yes.

Matt: That’s you. You have the dietary habits of a 13-year-old boy.

Bec: You know the TV show Absolutely Fabulous?

Matt: Yes.

Bec: That’s you. You have the dietary habits of a 55-year-old female alcoholic.

Matt: That’s not fair.

Bec: You’re right. You eat and drink as much as them put together. I stand corrected. You have the dietary habits of TWO 55-year-old female alcoholics.

Matt: Two standard drinks per night is the recommended daily allowance for an adult male.

Bec: I can vaguely remember the last time you only had two standard drinks in a night. It think was 2011. And you were “having an alcohol free day”, because you’d had gastro.

Matt: Wine is good for your stomach. It’s even in the bible.

Bec: I don’t believe that for a second.

Matt: 1 Timothy, 5:22-24 says “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” You should drink more for your stomach’s sake.

Bec: Do you know that verse off by heart?

Matt: Yes, but to be fair, it’s the only bible verse I know off by heart.

Bec: I would have thought you’d memorised the bit about wives having to do whatever their husbands tell them.

Matt: No. That bit is pretty dodgy. I think that’s one of the bits of the bible you’re supposed to ignore, like the bit about slavery being all good.

Bec: Right. Well, either way, my stomach wasn’t upset the other night from a lack of wine.

Matt: Correct. Your stomach was upset from having the diet of a 13-year-old boy. And 13-year-old boys don’t drink wine. There’s your problem.

Bec: No, I think my stomach was upset from you leaving the dirty pots, pans, cooking utensils and defrosting meat in the sink for a day, and then cooking dinner without washing up, with the rationale that ‘you can’t get food poisoning if you drink wine, because the alcohol in wine kills bacteria’.

Matt: It’s true.

Bec: It’s not true. Remember the last time you gave yourself food poisoning? How much wine had you had that afternoon?

Matt: We shared a bottle. But that doesn’t count because we’d left the duck terrine in the sun for too long, when you do that, the duck bacteria out-ranks the alcohol. As long as you don’t leave meat in the sun, wine kills the bacteria.

Bec: You should run a cooking school.

Health and Fitness

Does evening primrose oil work?

Bec: I went to the chemist to see if they had something for PMS and they recommended evening primrose oil, so I bought some.

Matt: Great. Do they have morning version as well?

Bec: No, that’s what it’s called. Evening primrose oil.

Matt: Does it work in the mornings?

Bec: It works all the time.

Matt: Excellent. What is it?

Bec: I don’t know. But it’s good for PMS.

Matt: Let’s Google it.

Bec: OK. It looks like it’s part of the Oenothera family.

Matt: It says here that you’re supposed to take evening primrose oil when you’re pregnant and that it helps cervical ripening.

Bec: I think you can do that, but it’s also good for PMS, the chemist said.

Matt: Good. What’s cervical ripening?

Bec: Do you really want to know?

Matt: No.

Bec: OK, well, anyway, I can take it throughout the month and it will work.

Matt: What does the ‘P’ in PMS stand for anyway. Is it ‘pre’ or ‘post’.

Bec: It’s ‘pre’.

Matt: Gosh that’s awful. So what happens when you hit menopause then? I know it’s a long way away, but what happens when you hit menopause?

Bec: What do you mean?

Matt: Well, if you have ‘pre menopausal stress’ for, like, 40 years, does it stop once you go ‘post’ menopausal?

Bec: PMS doesn’t stand for ‘pre menopausal stress’, it stands for ‘pre menstrual stress’.

Matt: Oh. I thought it was ‘pre menopausal stress’.

Bec: No.

Matt: So why are you in a bad mood so often then? If it was ‘pre menstrual’ wouldn’t you just be in a bad mood just before you had your period?

Bec: I’m only in a bad mood just before I get my period. On the Tuesday night before, remember?

Matt: *Cough*

Bec: What do you mean “*cough*”?

Matt: Nothing. I think it’s great that you have evening primrose oil.

Bec: OK.

Matt: Why did my mum call it ‘PMT’?

Bec: What did the ‘T’ stand for?

Matt: ‘Tension’.

Bec: She was probably tense because after she had you she probably decided the best thing to do would be to spare the human race and never have sex ever again. The decision would have been greeted with joy from the rest of the population, but, I imagine, a lot of tension forthwith for her.

Matt: Well that’s obviously not true because she had my brother.

Bec: Well maybe the ‘P’ stood for ‘post’ and the ‘M’ stood for ‘Matt’ then. I suffer from post Matt tension quite regularly.

Matt: Post marriage tension, more like. From not having sex enough.

Bec: That’s not fair.

Matt: Actually, you’re right. It’s not that you haven’t wanted to have sex since we got married, you’ve just have PMS and have been too busy telling me you hate me because I’m too pedantic when I cook breakfast for you and I have outrageous demands like wanting the toast to be ready at the same time as the bacon.

Bec: You’re not ‘pedantic’ in the kitchen, you’re a control freak.

Matt: Well maybe I should take evening primrose oil when I cook then.

Bec: I think you should take evening primrose oil whenever you decide to open your mouth.

Matt: I would, but I don’t want to get any cervical ripening.

Health and Fitness


There are nine reasons why people choose to be vegetarians. The first is because they have a moral objection to eating animals. The second is because they’re trying to impress a girl and I’ve forgotten the other seven because after a month off meat I have so little iron in my body P&O have been using my stools as rust-proofing.

My vegetarianism falls into the second category of reasons. I vaguely recall the others having something to do with battery-powered chickens. Either way, I’ve reached a moral milestone and I’m now at a point where a point has been proven and I have to make a decision on vegetarinism: to be, or not to be? That is the question. Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the beans and legumes of colonic good-fortune, or to take chopsticks against a sea of creatures and by opposing, eat them?

I can’t decide.

Up until quite recently, let’s call it August, I was of the opinion that unless someone with a stethoscope and a Mercedes reliably informed you that upon eating the flesh of another beast you would almost certainly drop dead, or at the very least, start convulsing with a significant degree of gusto, you had no plausible reason for being a vegetarian. I was as environamental as the next guy – I saw Xavier Rudd in a carpark in Torquay once, I’ve been to Nimbin twice and I’ve been in a Toyota Prius three times, so I got that it was wrong to eat whale meat and dolphin burgers. I got that some people avoided eating pigs or hens which have been kept in pens the size of matchboxes and injected with enough hormones to make a Chinese swimmer change sexes and then change back again. I even got that Hindus don’t like eating bovines on the grounds that they may be gods. If I shared that belief, I would have been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt too – I’ve been chowing down on Big Macs my entire life, it would have sucked to finally get to heaven, and realise it’s being run by cows. Or worse still, cows with guns.

I got all those reasons, and I was happy to avoid eating dolphins and whales and mentally-ill poultry and anything in a can, and anything you’d put on a leash and take for a walk to the park, and anything exceptionally cute, fatty, furry or smart enough to learn sign-language. But that still left a veritable ark of wildlife still on the lunch list. Ducks, for example, the white ones at least, are just annoying. I mean really, who quacks? Sheep are cute for a while of course, but then they just bleat and run around erroneously. If a sheep, I thought, got lost, waddled into an abattoir and fell on my plate, well, bad luck Dolly. And prawns? No-one, not even PETA, not even Michael F***ing Moore gives a f*** about prawn welfare. Prawns were the rats of the sea as far as I was concerned. Tiny little poo-eating exo-skeletal  pockets of delicious.

But then, after not eating any of these flavoursome creatures for an entire month, I began to realise there was more to lunch than ham, more to dinner than lamb and more to breakfast than bacon. Mid-way through I was bleating and tweeting that I couldn’t stomach another salad. Dinner guests politely put up with my lentil soups but I could tell they were thinking twice about ever coming back. Co-workers, who usually reaped rewards from my inability to cook for one and had grown used to an endless supply of my leftover pizzas, lasagnes and curries, suddenly had to contend with chick-pea burgers, soy milk laksa and tofu fondue. The smell of mutiny had hung languid in the air like methane in Mumbai. But as the weeks progressed, my culinary skillset began to adapt. Broad beans started dancing seductively with pecorino and white truffle oil. My digesty-bits felt positively sprightly. Previously ignored sections of menus in my favourite cafes sprang to life and cute hippie waitresses gave me seductive, knowing looks. Best of all, the girl I was trying to impress thought I was, well, impressive.

If I’m ever stuck on a desert island without any lentils and there’s a chicken lurking near a deep fryer and some peri-peri sauce, that thing better learn to fly real quick. But, failing that, and despite some occasional episodes of iron-deficient delirium, I think I’m going to stick at this vegetarian thing a little bit longer. I’m not driving a f***ing Prius though.

Health and Fitness

Dear Rice, it’s been fun, but it’s over…

Dear Rice,

You’re cheaper than pasta, tastier than bread and when you find yourself in the company of a little avocado salsa and some beans, you go even better with sour cream than a baked potato. Until yesterday I thought you were infallible. You were the food equivalent of the friend who is always there at the end of the night to wait in line for a taxi while everyone else passed out on a footpath. You knew the quickest way home, you knew where the spare key was, you knew who I wasn’t allowed to drunken text at 3am and you never tagged me on Facebook unless I was looking particularly hot.

The humblest of all carbohydrates, no matter what the cuisine you were always content to lie there on the plate and let everyone else have the glory. Your starchy whiteness made you the star. You were the bed that brought coconut milk and chilli together, but like an exclusive Hollywood madam you kept silent, letting dashing ingredients have their way above you without so much as a snap, crackle or pop.

No matter what mood I was in, no matter what was in the fridge, you could be relied upon. If you saw me come home with limes we’d drink a bottle of wine together and make risotto. There was nothing you loved more than seaweed, raw fish and wasabi; a flavour combination no other staple could stomach. If ever you sensed I was losing interest in the relationship you’d stretch yourself into kinky noodles and spice things up with a little laksa. On special occasions you’d put on that see-through Vietnamese number, invite some prawns over and let me dip you in sweet chilli sauce. My God, but those were the days. I thought you were the Queen of all carbohydrates. But you let me down. Big time.

The fact that you got along with just about everyone should have been warning enough. You’d partied your way through every continent on the planet, and like a horny Scandanavian backpacker, I should have realised you’d bring more than a bikini and a pair of cargo pants along for the ride. When I came home late one night and you didn’t mention Bacillus cereus had shacked up in my pantry with you, things were never going to be the same. I know I’d been away for a couple of weeks and you had nothing on your shelf for company other than broken cannelloni tubes and Home Brand iodised table salt, but getting intimate with some beta haemolytic bacteria was a low blow.

Despite drinking dank diuretics in Vietnam and feasting on foul fish tacos in the backblocks of Baja, I’d never had serious food poisoning before. In fact, in 29 years on the planet I’d never even been seriously sick by myself. In my darkest, illest hours, there had always been a mum, or a girlfriend, or at least a concerned band member somewhere nearby to pat my head and tell me it was going to be OK. Kicking me in the guts when I was alone the other night was just plain cruel. Sure, I got to learn a bit about myself as the dizzying fever took hold, in fact I even fancied that like Alfred Russel Wallace the hallucinations might lead my mind to spring forth some dazzling new, undiscovered scientific theory, leaving me with a footnote in history. I spewed forth some dazzling and previously undiscovered matter, that’s for certain. But all I was left with was dysentery and a feeling like I was hiding a missing piece of Evander Hollyfield’s ear in my stomach and he was trying to punch it out of me. It still hurts to laugh. Not that I feel amused.

I’ve got other options you know. You never liked cous cous, but we spent some time together recently in Perth and I think there might be something there. Unlike you, cous cous is all fluffy and warm, almost cuddly, and it doesn’t take forever to get ready. I’ve always liked that about cous cous. Pasta is a blast too. And pasta goes really well with garlic and red wine. I always hated it how you and red wine never got along. Red wine is such an important part of my palette, I can’t believe you didn’t make more of an effort to get to know each other.

Rice, I think it’s time we spent some time apart. In fact, after what you did to me, and after all I’ve been through, I don’t know if I can ever love you again. It’ll be hard knowing that I’m going to see you in all my favourite places, putting smiles on random people’s faces, but I’ll get over that.

It’s been fun rice, but it’s over.