Thursday, 19 July 2012


Tea?” My friend asks as I decide which armchair to take a seat in. Where would baby bear sit? My mind diverts me from being polite and answering.
Tea?” My friend again enquires.
Hmmm, sorry. Yes, I'd love one” I reply, now sitting down and plumping the cushion behind me. This seat is just right I'm thinking.
I'm trying out ancient brews.” A voice shouts from the kitchen. She enters the lounge carrying a silver tray and plonks it down on the table, “And of course serving them in the traditional way.” She continues.
She lifts the lid from the silver teapot and stirs it. “I must get this right: pour, season, and serve in a delicate cup.” She mutters.
Should I be commenting I wonder? I decide to remain silent and watch. A brown liquid streams into the cup. It looks like ordinary black tea to me. This must just be part of the ceremony. I let her finish it. She picks up a silver container and shakes it. Speckles of white appear on the top and fall to the bottom.
I don't take sugar.” I remind her.
It's not sugar, it's salt.” She states very matter-of-fact, calmly passing the cup to me.
I raise the cup to my nose and sniff it. “What is it?” I ask her.
Beef tea.”
But I'm a veggie!”I remonstrate to her.
There's hardly any meat in it. I strained it. It will beef you up – just taste it.”She reasons.
I think I'll pass, but you go ahead and enjoy it.”
She brings the cup to her lips, taking a sip and wrinkles up her nose, “Perhaps you need to be ill to drink this.”

What is the purpose of me repeating this exchange to you? Well, it got me thinking about our connections to food and how this relationship has altered. Not just our own, but on an international scale. Country to country. Globally. BBC2's documentary “The Men Who Made Us Fat” has fascinated me. I was most annoyed when tennis interrupted play, pounding my fists as the programme kept being pushed back. I actually mooed when they rescheduled it.

What's my beef? Frankly, I think sorting out our dysfunctional relationship to food is more important. Why is Britain so wishy-washy when it comes to this subject? Happier not to enforce, 'We don't want to upset food companies' is what the government is basically saying. Is this a plot to turn us into obese, ticking time bombs? Chair-ridden, slurping and eating. When will they accept we're at crisis point? That legislation in favour of public health is desperately needed? Back in the day, before BSE and supersizing, I used to be potty about beef, roasted with Yorkshire puds, or minced as a burger. Now I've sided with the beef: a mad cow potty about disagreeing. Vegetarian cows moo longer and louder.