As I recently wrote on Twitter in a throwaway line, before realising how profoundly deep it actually was: I am a woman of complex issues, but simple tastes. In other words, I can spend hours thinking and talking about my problems, analysing them in minute detail, and working through solutions before doing pretty much nothing about them. But when it comes to food, I'll take bread, pasta, and ice cream with chocolate sauce, and eat them. Immediately. With immense pleasure.
In further other words, I am impossible to please emotionally, but dead easy to please gastronomically. And this dichotomy has existed within me quite comfortably since I first discovered my preference for plain food, at around the time of my weaning (onto ice cream, I believe).
You see, I have just returned from a marvellous holiday in Thailand, where the food service consisted of three magnificent buffets a day, with a range of options covering everything from Italian to Thai to French to Modern American to those weird foods that you can only breathe in from a test tube (okay, so not really those, but almost everything but). And the dessert section alone stretched across a room approximately the length of a tennis court, which was helpful because after a week at the resort many guests had expanded so dramatically that they couldn't fit into a regular size room.
Most people were immensely happy with the selection of food on offer. I, on the other hand, was miserable and conflicted. Because every day I was faced with the same dilemma: given access to every dish under the sun, all I wanted was bread and pasta.
Day after day, I would wander through the buffet, regarding the incredible array of meals - platters of prawns, chicken, salads, meats, sauces, pizzas, soups, savoury mousses - and walk right past them onto the bread and pasta. And I would choose the bread and pasta. EVERY single day. Lunch and dinner. I couldn't resist.
This caused me tremendous angst. I was self-conscious(did people notice my same, simple choices, day after day? Was I becoming the weird Pasta Lady from Oz?) and guilt-stricken (all this money spent on a holiday and I was eating some of the plainest, cheapest foods known to the human race). And dessert just made it worse. In the company of every exotic cake, pudding and biscuit known to chefs around the globe, I chose ice cream. VANILLA ice cream. With COTTEES TOPPING. It was a shunder.
Still, the angst, the self-consciousness, the shame... none of it translated into actually DOING anything about the problem. It got tucked into my huge Box Of Complex Issues and ignored, as all the other Complex Issues are. And I buried them with food, which was the cause of the problem, so the whole thing perpetuated a destructive, delicious, vicious cycle.
But that's okay, because, as I sit here and regard my tummy (which gives new meaning to the term 'Outward Bound'), I know that, could I do the holiday over, I wouldn't change a thing.
On the other hand, there was a chocolate souffle I saw at the dessert table on Thursday night that did look pretty special. You know, I should really have had just a small piece....