Ever been faced with the Delicious Meal Dilemma? It happened to me yesterday. I went to our local pub for Sunday lunch - possibly the most British thing I could do in Australia! Ordered a roast lamb dinner. (Reports that a separate, giant portion of beer-battered chunks/chips/fries - whatever you like to call them where you're from - were also ordered are unconfirmed. But it may have happened.)
An enormous plate of food was placed before me. E-NOR-mous. Slice upon slice of gravy-soaked lamb barely concealed a mountain of potatoes. Green beans only just stayed on the plate as they fought for space with a hunk of pumpkin. And the giant bowl of chunks looked as toweringly magnificent as they do every time I order them. Loads of food.
Happily, I don't have the weird reaction of so many to a mega-meal: "I'll never manage all that!"
Nobody's asking you to! Just eat what you want and leave the rest; it doesn't matter. I also don't subscribe to the idea that it's wasteful not to clear your plate. Shovelling unwanted, unneeded food down just because you can't bear to see it 'wasted' is perverse.
Enough talk: let's eat. I went around the dish's components in a sort of circle, trying one food, then another and so on back to the first. It's my way of finding out what's worth it, what's not, what to focus on etc. Turned out the potatoes - all 112 of them - and the battered chunks were the highlights. So, potatoes and potato. The carb-loading began.
I was in heaven, to begin with. Perfect chunks, alternated with divine potato mountain. The odd green bean, bit of meat. Then back to the potatoey goodness. Just recalling the event - yes, I think eating this meal can be described as an event - is making me happy (and hungry, hmm). Then came the dilemma...
I realised I was getting, aarrgh, full.
This is the problem with delicious meals. As I said, I am happy to leave food on my plate. Normally. However, when a truly magnificent dish is in front of you and you are having the best time of your life ever, dropping the fork is slightly more distressing/completely unimaginable.
The Delicious Meal Dilemma is twofold.
First, there's the issue of speed: does one endeavour to wolf down as much as possible before the brain registers that the stomach is going to burst? Or do you slow down in the hope of tricking the brain into thinking you've made the sensible decision, but continue to casually empty the plate forkful by stealthy forkful, so nonchalantly that brain and stomach are completely fooled, allowing you to polish off more of the Delicious Meal that Cannot be Left?
I committed to wolfing.
The second part of the Delicious Meal Dilemma concerns food choices. I loved this dish. All of it. But I was getting so full and couldn't guarantee I was going to be able to conquer the plate in its entirety. I had some difficult decisions to make.
Points for consideration:
- Green beans and pumpkin are good for you; should eat those.
- Potatoes are sublime, but I do have a huge mountain of them and have already made exceptional inroads into said mountain; it wouldn't be a bad thing to stop with the potatoes at this point.
- The chunks, battered and salty as they are, clearly represent the poorest nutritional option. But the chunks! Oh, delicious chunks that even now are making me feel sulky and resentful about tonight's chunk-free dinner.
The consequences of my consideration:
- I opted to leave some meat; it wasn't the best lamb and I had been given about four huge slices anyway - think I managed three.
- I hoovered up all the green beans and pumpkin: nutrients!
- I demolished Potato Mountain - yes, every single one.
- I ate ALL THE CHUNKS.
It's probably a bad sign that I repeated the following like mantras throughout the final minutes:
- I do not do this often; it's okay once in a while
- the food (potato, potato, potato) really is superbly cooked
- I'm not having a dessert
- I'll have a small(er) dinner.
Note: I just got so hungry writing this that I went to make a snack, but the cheese and grapes I have prepared appear insubstantial and wholly unsatisfactory. I want more beer-battered chunks is what I want. Cheese and grapes? Who am I kidding?
Ooh, on a much happier note, I have just remembered what tonight's dinner is going to be - it's potentially sensational (MIA chunks notwithstanding).
I have prepared some tumeric pastry and have chicken marinating in some kind of spicy yogurt creation - I'm making chicken pasties tonight! With mango chutney!
AND - wow, just remembered this, too; how is it that today's activities are only just springing to mind? I did this mere hours ago! - I made brownies! And they look phenomenal, even using new oven!
Oh, I'm so happy now. The cheese and grapes didn't cut it, though - I will require something further as a pre-dinner snack.
While we're on the subject (kind of), today I purchased yeast and bread flour, with the intention of making my own bread and homemade pizza. This is an exciting development. I read through my Great British Bake Off How to Bake book this morning and have picked out ten recipes worthy of my attention. I'll let you know how I go (and maybe even take a rare photo).
Enjoy your dinner tonight x