MY father taught me how to drink alcohol and eat fine food, really well.
My education started from the age of about seven, when he would take me out to our local Chinese restaurant on a Sunday, (because my parents were divorced), and we would indulge in the sport of Chinese Food Flicking. A prawn in the lap of the person on the opposite side of the table provided the lowest score; a perfectly-aimed grain of rice in the eye secured you the trophy.
After a week in Hamilton Island, and five days in Sydney in the company of this great man, the temple that was once my body has been transformed into a bloated mass of toxins and excess lardy bits due to the un-heartsmart quantities of alcohol and fine food subjected to it.
I have a ‘buffet mentality’ when food and drink are seemingly ‘free’ (or someone else is paying for it)
I have no ‘stop’ or ‘full’ button. Rather like the hamster who stores its food in its cheeks, I have stored it all over my body during what has been a no-holds-barred binging session as my father indulged all my food and wine fantasies from one Sydney restaurant to the next.
This food journey began with some memorable lunches and dinners on Hamilton Island and then recommenced more seriously in a six-course degustation menu, courtesy of Captain Cook Cruises in Sydney.
The good Captain teased our palates with lobster, duck gnocchi, fillet steak and seared tuna and that meal was followed the very next day by a fish frenzy at the local yacht club, where, genetically incapable of resisting King prawns, NC and I attacked a massive bucket of the critters with our fingers, like piranahs tearing at fresh meat. Then, not content with what Australian cuisine has to offer, our stomachs demanded an Asian infusion and so off we headed to Darling Harbour for another feast, of spiced delights this time, that included beef satay, chilli prawns and caramelized aubergine.
I could go on and on and taunt you with detailed descriptions and visual porn of the food fantasies my father helped me sate, but I know that would be cruel.
Suffice it to say, that the meagre food offerings I made for him, chez-moi (back at the block), in return for his generosity, (offerings the family has labelled as ‘bits and pieces’ or more commonly known as ‘what’s in the fridge’), were embarrassing by comparison.
I’m not sure if addiction to fine food and fine wine is a genetic issue, but it certainly seems to be the case in our family.
I had thought that my father’s food indulgences were linked to his recent lifestyle change, dictated by his retirement, when he suddenly found himself in a more comfortable financial position and with more time on his hands and so could treat himself to lunch every day and a whisky or eight at night.
Since he left Sydney, my body feels bereft and empty, like that of a woman who has just given birth – accustomed as it was to 3000 calories per day. It still craves that glass or two of sparkling wine as an aperitif at lunchtime, and the perfectly chilled bottle of white wine in the evening that compliments Sydney Rock oysters just so well.
It was fun living the life of a wealthy foodie connoisseur for a couple of weeks, but my digestive system is threatening to strike and even my muffin top has raised the alarm. Obviously, weeks of denial, longing and imposed rehab loom ahead for me while I adjust back to the reality of my usual diet of ‘what’s left in the fridge’.
Meanwhile, my father has moved onto Dubai where he is no doubt converting the locals to the merits of alcohol as an accompaniment to every meal.