The Indirect Route to the Appreciation of Simple Things

Like just about every other person in Western society, I entered the New Year with plans to become healthier, wealthier and wiser.  Oh and perhaps a tiny hangover too.

Those that know me will understand the various reasons why health was a key part of my plans for 2011.  I’m interested in the ideas and exploits of Tim Ferriss of Four Hour Workweek fame, and my Kindle buddy had his new tome ‘Four Hour Body’ downloaded faster than you could say “Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”.

So, despite being an avowed foodist and advanced eater and drinker I have now been eating a restricted high protein, slow carb diet for almost a month.  Here’s a typical daily menu:

Breakfast Three scrambled eggs (no milk or cream), herbs, sea salt flakes, smoked salmon, black coffee.

Lunch Braised lentils with tomato, cumin and coriander, chilli con carne, sour cream, guacamole, black olives, fresh coriander, boiled egg.

Dinner Steak, cannellini beans, green vegetables. Glass of dry red wine.

This is far from my usual diet of flat whites, toast, pasta, rice, vegetables, minimal meat and maximal beer, wine and whisky.

Other tenets of the Four Hour Body are short, sharp bursts of exercise and a weekly day long binge.  I’ll let you read the book if you are interested in the philosophy behind this, however I’m happy to say we are on our way to achieving some of our health goals and as an unexpected bonus I am far more mentally alert and focussed than I have been in many years. 

Today being our Binge Day, I headed out to Brewbakers and Chocquette at the crack of dawn to acquire sourdough and pastries.  The Danishes from Chocquette were magnificent. Crispy edges, flaky layers of pastry and exquisite pear/custard and rhubarb/custard fillings with a thin layer of glaze.  The sourdough was just out of the ovens at Brewbakers, and owner and baker Richard Cotton selected one for me, along with some chocolate croissants. 

One interesting side effect for me has been a heightened appreciation of flavour and texture.  As I write this, I’m snacking on Richard’s sourdough, lightly toasted and smeared with French butter and some J. Friend & Co. White Clover Honey from Manuka, NZ.  Granted, I’ve assembled this snack from three very fine component ingredients, but it is just as enjoyable as the myriad fine dishes I’ve eaten in restaurants anywhere in the world.  The flat white I enjoyed at Chocquette this morning was nutty, creamy and delicious.  I savoured it.  Last Saturday I devoured the larger part of a wedge of Cabot clothbound Cheddar from Jasper Hill Farm, Vermont, via Black Pearl Epicure, crumbly, earthy and caramel with a just enough sharpness and a properly long finish.  The new-found laser mental focus and expecation means even simple foods are savoured.

Booty from Brewbakers & Chocquette
White Clover Honey on Brewbaker's French Sourdough
Cabot Clothbound Cheddar

There’s really nothing ascetic about the Four Hour Body way of eating, because as much as you restrict your diet six days a week, the anticipation and heightening of senses delivered by your weekly free-eating day compensates ten-fold. Any cravings or desires during the week and be jotted down ready for organising into an agenda of indulgence for your binge day.  It’s a way of eating that supports extreme productivity, and for me this in turn supports higher order eating and drinking adventures.  A good result.

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