Simply Irresistible

Daily Prompt (November 26, 2013): Tell us about the favorite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.

I have always been moved by food. Well, by the taste of it. We are all, of course,  technically moved by it.

But there have been times I have enjoyed whatever I am eating so much that I have closed my eyes, blocked out everyone around me, and allowed myself to be completely engulfed in the flavour.

People either find this amusing or highly offensive.

But if something really tastes that good, I want to savour it.

So, when I discovered a year ago that I could no longer eat many of my favourite foods, I was horrified…no, saddened, actually.

In the past, the one thing I always found simply irresistible was goat’s cheese. If it was on a menu, I was guaranteed to order that dish.

My favourite kind of goat’s cheese was Grey Owl and whenever I went to visit my mother, she would try to have some sitting in her fridge for me. We would take it out to eat after a nice dinner, passing it around with sliced baguette or crackers.

I didn’t bother with the bread stuff usually. I went straight for the cheese, eating it with fork and spoon (I’m not a total animal!). And no matter how much I had eaten during the preceding course(s), I would often-I’m somewhat ashamed to admit now-polish off more than half of the sizeable piece of cheese that would once have been sitting on the serving plate.

Ah, glorious cheese.

When my husband and I travelled to France a few years ago, I ate so much of it that the inside of my mouth was swollen for the two weeks we were there. I guess I should have known then that I had a problem.

My gluttony isn’t reserved solely for cheese. I’ve also, once, eaten a full pound of bacon in one sitting, but that’s another story and, in my defence, I was pregnant.

So what do I eat now in place of cheese?

First of all, nothing replaces cheese. And I do try a bit every now and then but it makes me so sick that it takes me another 6 months before I can trick myself into believing that maybe this time it will be different.

I find I eat an awful lot of nut butter now, and I crave meat more often than I ever have before. So I guess that’s my body asking for the protein it would have consumed via cheese in the past.

I also eat more fruit. If I’m really trying to make up for my lost love, I eat figs and blood oranges and pomegranates drizzled in the sweet tahini sauce from this recipe on My New Roots.

My New Roots is one of my two go-to sites if I need a perfect recipe (that fits with my dietary restrictions) for just about anything. The other is Chocolate Covered Katie.

Which brings me to the only things that come close to rivalling my once overpowering addiction to cheese: dark chocolate, red wine and coffee. I was always partial to them, but they are now front and centre in the comfort eating department. To be really effective, they have to be made with high quality ingredients, taken in small amounts, and savoured.

I love a really good cup of americano – at home, we drink J.J. Bean’s JJ Espresso – or a glass of Bordeaux with a few squares of Green & Black’s or Chelsea Truffles’ dark chocolate. I also like to make hot chocolate with a good, rich chocolate powder, hot water, sugar, vanilla and a cinnamon stick. No dairy, no substitutes. It’s thick and rich, like coffee, and perfect on a cold day.

Simply irresistible.

Finding Comfort at the Bottom of a Peanut Butter Jar

How much is too much chocolate peanut butter?

That was the question I recently posed on Facebook, mostly to entertain my friends.

But I also really wanted to know. You see, I had found myself eating 200g of the stuff two days in a row.

Is that too much?

Almost a year ago, I was handed a list of foods I apparently can’t tolerate. I was told that they have been the cause of 20 years, or so, of digestive and iron problems. In an effort to gain control of the resulting discomfort, I have followed my new, pared down diet religiously. And too great effect.

I have discovered, however, that I can’t cheat, not even a little bit, without incurring the wrath of the stomach gods. So I don’t bother trying anymore.

No gluten, dairy, egg whites, yeast, turmeric, garlic, chick peas…unfortunately, the list goes on.

My upcoming trip to Italy should be spectacular. But I digress.

A month after I began this whole diet thing, I tried to bake something, following all the new rules. It was horrible! I had wasted my precious Sunday afternoon and all my expensive new baking goods, and I had nothing to show for it.

My husband found me, a sobbing mess, in the middle of the kitchen, a crumbled loaf here, a pile of grainy “flour” there. I declared I would never be able to make anything I’d like to eat again.

And so, I embarked upon a quest to find new comfort foods, baked by other, more professional restricted-diet types.

I discovered a vegan cupcake bakery down the street that has a gluten-free selection of cupcakes and cookies, as well as coconut milk ice creams. The health food store next to them sells yeast-free, gluten-free bread and coconut milk yogurt. A second vegan bakery makes nice (that’s a qualified compliment, as my husband tells me my taste buds have changed after a year of eating all my new foods) gluten-free cinnamon buns. And a raw/vegan/gluten free take-out nearby makes to-die-for date brownies.

I have also found that Kettle Chips are gluten free. And Glutino makes highly addictive gluten-free, casein-free, egg-free pretzels. I’ve never eaten so many pretzels in my life.

The nights that my husband makes his wonderful yeasty, garlicky pizza, I make gluten free pasta with my own garlic-free tomato sauce, prosciutto, fresh figs, olives and red peppers.

So, I can cook my own food successfully now.

I even have managed to start baking wonderful treats, finally, that meet my dietary restrictions. I make a nice pumpkin bread, a wonderful apple crisp (my family even agrees!), and this past weekend, Canadian Thanksgiving, not only did I make myself some nice hazelnut-crust pumpkin tarts, but I actually made an entire, traditional Thanksgiving feast – that I could eat. Gravy, wild rice stuffing, the works.

The best part was that no one noticed that it was cooked to meet all my requirements.

A year ago, on that sad, sad day, I never would have believed it possible.

But I still get frustrated. I still have days when I need that extra bit of comfort that only food can bring.

What do I eat then?

Armed with my Glutino pretzels, I open the Peanut Butter & Co. dark chocolate peanut butter jar and plow through a good 200g or so of the stuff. Pretzel after pretzel. Sometimes, I even use a civilized utensil to scoop it out. But not always.

Chocolatey, peanut buttery, pretzely goodness.

It doesn’t get much more comforting than that.

Written in response to Writing the Fire’s appetizing prompt about tomato sandwiches and finding comfort and simple happiness in every day things.