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British Dinner and Puddings

April 30, 2008

I live in a world where really nice starchy, calorie-rich food is placed in front of me every day. I don’t remember how to cook. I feel guilty for what I’m about to say, because the food is very nice, and if I were here on vacation I’d gobble it up as though every day were Thanksgiving. But I live here…and the food is very traditional–very British. And while I love England for many reasons, it is a commonly accepted fact that England is not known for its cuisine. Since I arrived in September, I have had a mere 3 spicy dishes at West Dean (one of which was tonight!). So, while the short course students love the food here, I’m sorry to confess that I do get tired of it.

Except for the puddings.* West Dean does not disappoint with their pudding selection (though I do miss ice cream…and cookies…). There is a selection of two or three different puddings at lunch and dinner. They’ve been serving pavlova nearly every day lately. I’d never heard of pavlova until I came to this country. And it’s amazing. Meringue, double cream and forest berries or other fruit. That’s it. SO delicious.

We also have tea and biscuits twice a day…

The longer I’m here, the more institutionalized I become, and the more my appetite and portion sizes seem to grow (the long cold winter didn’t help, either). I escaped the starch and cream while I interned in Oxford where I delighted in making my own nachos with avocado and salsa or grilled cheese and soup (the simple pleasures you never knew you’d miss!). I relished being in control of what I ate–and when I ate. Then I got to visit home…and while I was home I came up with a plan.

Since I arrived back at West Dean a few weeks ago, I’ve given up sugar altogether.** For one month. I’m already two and a half weeks into my goal. I went off sugar for a month many years ago (after eating an entire bag of conversation hearts in one day–not even kidding), and discovered that I was a pathetic addict. I wanted sugar so badly I had the shakes. This time has not been nearly difficult. I’m already losing a bit of weight (did I mention I’d gained nearly 2 stone since last September?), but mostly I feel better. My hope is that this will help me regain control and eat less sugar/be satisfied with smaller desserts etc. We’ll see what happens after the experiment ends (May 15!). I just hope they’re still making pavlova and banoffee pie in a couple weeks…

I chew a lot of sugarfree gum now.

I was thinking about it the other day. Imagining I had two puddings each day for thirty days (I think I’d begun to fall into that pattern) and two wee biscuits at each tea break (I’ll be honest, I used to take 3 or 4–they’re so small), that’s 60 puddings and 120 biscuits in just a month–not to mention all the other sweets I’ve been offered or would have bought for myself. That’s a lot of sugar!

*(For my American friends, any dessert in England is a pudding–whether it’s technically “pudding” or not).

**Actually, I’m allowing myself juice and yogurt. But I’m not even adding sugar to my herbal tea anymore.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. zstitches permalink
    May 1, 2008 12:00 am

    The pavlova looks exceedingly yummy. I had forgotten that I’d mean to try using my super-deluxe dehydrator to make meringues. I’ll have to get on that.

  2. May 1, 2008 1:50 am

    Yes, I’ll also have the Pavlova (

  3. Dad permalink
    May 1, 2008 2:00 am

    Great idea, giving up sugar! And the composite photos are also very clever. Now if you can just ship all the desserts you’re giving up to me!

  4. Robby permalink
    May 3, 2008 2:34 pm

    Giving up the Pavlov conditioning?

    I gotta say, I think Boston is similar in a way. The restaurants here are lacking in so many ways. I can never seem to find anything good to eat local to where I work, etc. And, honestly, I think it has something to do with the cold.

    At least there are grocery stores. Plus, there _are_ good restaurants, as long as I go out of my way — like that Afghani restaurant = YUM.

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