Food fads: my gut feeling is…

Cover of GulpHere’s a hint: your flavour of the month had better not be bacon, sausages, fruit juices, melted cheese or cupcakes. All the fun stuff, I think you will agree.

In fact, the way things are going in the world of dietary advice and precautions, you’ll be thinking you should stick to lettuce leaves. Well, you would be so wrong. According to the very latest from the food police, lettuce has absolutely no food value whatsoever and can in fact be harmful. Apparently, piling lashings of the green stuff on the side of your potential coronary just makes you FEEL better – and eat more junk.

Cover of The Diet MythHere’s a selection of some trending foodie books that appeal to me – in some cases for all the wrong reasons:

Gulp by Mary Roach – it has a great cover and is about the “strange wet miracles of science that operate inside us”. You’ll find the answers to questions like: did Elvis die of constipation?

Books on microbiomes. OK, now take a deep breath before you read up on the latest in faecal transplants. A good place to start is the Christchurch Press article: Is clean living shortening our lives? (4 November 2015, B3). Cover of The TastemakersWe need to get down and dirty and restore the variety of microbes in our guts. And, unfortunately, that means we need to know more about “stool banks” and “faecal transplants”. Tim Spector is your go-to man here.

There is also the possibility that we are just being manipulated by clever marketeers. The Tastemakers tackles this possibility by asking: Why does food have to be trendy? Why can’t it just taste good? Like a toasted cheese sandwich used to taste, before it was gentrified with artisanal cheeses and ancient grain breads?

Cover of The Sex Life of FoodAnd finally, just because every blog is improved by the mere mention of sex, there is The Sex Life of Food. Maurice Sendak bills this book as being “Delicious, funny and  – yes – sexy”. And I checked, there is no mention of excrement anywhere here! But,  best of all – I love the author’s name –  Bunny Crumpacker. I am not making this up!

Left to my own devices I would probably eat avocado on toast and cupcakes every day. Until I tired of it, that is. Maybe I should write a book on this!

Relishing the moments with a wordless picture book

Cover of Anno's journeyThe other evening, Mr K — who doesn’t usually like “girly” movies and would much rather watch the likes of Conan or Easy Rider — suggested we watch About Time. We both rather enjoyed this touching, romantic comedy about Tim who discovers he can time travel, and sets out to fix all the mistakes in his life. I was rather taken with the words Tim spoke at the end of the movie about relishing the moments of life

“We’re all traveling through time, together, every day of our lives… All we can do is do our best to relish this remarkable life”

I felt a kerplunk in my brain and a memory marble popped out showing me the day I picked up a copy of Anno’s Journey and flicked through it in a rush. I knew it was a classic picture book and had won like a bunch of awards and all that, but at first glance, I have to say I was underwhelmed. What was all the fuss about? There are no words, and the muted pictures didn’t seem especially eye-catching.

But then I took the time to sit down and actually look — to relish each page, each moment with the book — and I saw the clever details in the illustrations, the little stories within the story. I took it home for the Young Lad (who loves books, but does not like reading for himself) and it was a hit!

Although his teacher says he’s reading fine, he usually refuses to read at home. Give him a book he’s never read, and he refuses to read it because he doesn’t know the words. Give him a book he’s read before, and he refuses to read it because he’s had that one already. Getting him to read his school reading book is a nightmare! Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

This wordless picture book, though — it was a whole new experience. He didn’t need my help with it, he was in charge of the book. I think he found it empowering. Together, we found so many fascinating things in the illustrations. Miss Missy, not wanting to be left out, started searching too, and it was she who discovered Seurat’s “Bathers” and “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”

So then, of course, I couldn’t help but bring home more wordless picture books. We spent several evenings side by side on the couch, looking at the pictures, wondering over the story, and relishing our time together with these wonderful books.

Cover of Clown by Quentin BlakeHere are some of our favourites:

Now I know that “reading” these books didn’t actually help the Young Lad learn to read a single word, but we had such fun together, and I think that’s actually more important!

Useful links to help early readers –Cover of Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Te Kupu o Te Wiki – Moe (sleep)

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori we are publishing weekly kupu (words) and phrases that can be used with children.

Kīwaha (idiom)

Me he tē
Like a boss

Kupu (word)


E moe, e te tau.
Go to sleep, my darling.

Whāngahia te Reo

This week in Christchurch history (9 to 15 November)

9 November 1933
Mrs E. R. McCombs (Lyttelton) becomes the first woman MP in New Zealand.

10 November 1839
Captain William B. Rhodes lands 50 cattle at Akaroa.

11 November 1904
ChristChurch Cathedral completed. The architect was George Gilbert Scott.

11 November 1924
Bridge of Remembrance opens.

11 November 1929
Edmonds band rotunda opens.

Edmonds Band Rotunda, viewed from Oxford Terrace [ca. 1930]
Edmonds Band Rotunda, viewed from Oxford Terrace [ca. 1930], CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0072
12 November 1980
New Christchurch City Council Civic Offices (formerly Millers Department Store) officially open.

13 November 1849
Royal Charter granted for the incorporation of the Canterbury Association.

15 November 1851
White Hart Hotel (possibly the city’s first) in operation.

Proposed design for the White Hart Hotel, High Street, Christchurch [1902]
Proposed design for the White Hart Hotel, High Street, Christchurch [1902], CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0074
More November events in the Christchurch chronology: a timeline of Christchurch events in chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.