Hello all

Well, the sun was supposed to shine today but as it is late afternoon, I have seen no evidence of it yet. 

Still, the garden is very green and the grass looks so lush that one can forgive nature for dumping so much rain upon us. I can handle the dreary weather because I am feeling rather pleased with myself right now.

You see, this is my fifth day of healthy eating and I am enjoying the abundance of summer fruit which is holding its own in the shops at present. Soon, fruit like nice peaches, plums and melons will be gone. Already, cherries and apricots are in short supply but I have managed to find some ‘beauties’ at the  fruit shop. As usual, my mind is conjuring up all kinds of fruit salads using the ingredients I found today.

Reading this blog so far, it sounds as if  I’m giving a fruit report like you hear on the radio, doesn’t it? Sorry about that! Not much good if you don’t live here in Queensland though!

So this morning, while I was at the local Fruit Market, I happened upon some fresh ripe figs. I LOVE fresh figs! At $1.50 each I figured I could buy two for myself and eat them in secret … before lunch. I always feel so decadent when I make totally self-centered choices for ME alone. But the figs were calling to me to purchase! The call had to be answered.

For those who do not know and love figs, one has to wait until the fig is totally mushy and ripe to enjoy it at the peak of sweetness. The girl serving me asked if I needed a new fig as this one was very ripe. She held it up as if it was bad. I looked at her with a quizzical look and said: “what do YOU think? It looks fine to me – am I wrong?”

She said “I would eat it, but other people ask for a replacement.” My answer took her by surprise:: “here, give it to me, I will eat it right now!” And with that, I devoured the fig and paid my bill. We both laughed. It turns out she is of Greek origin and like me, ate figs from her grandmother’s tree as a girl! And her Grandmother had an olive tree just as mine did.  We had a lot in common and further discussion ensued. We both understood the etiquette of fig eating…

No sooner was I out the door and the second fig had been savoured also. Not one bit of evidence of fig remained!

It got me thinking whilst sharing (blabbing?) all this with Geoff at afternoon tea, that a lot of grandparents had fig trees in the “old days”. Geoff remembers eating figs whilst visiting his grandparents too. But no one today would think to have a fig tree in their yard, unless they lived in an old house where the fig was already established. Do any of you ‘out there’ have a fig tree? Or did you eat figs from a grandparent’s tree?

Many years ago, I did try my hand at growing a fig tree after a mate of Geoff’s gave me a cutting from his garden. Unfortunately, there was not enough sunlight in the yard at that time and after it produced ONE LONE FIG it died!

Like the girls at the fruit shop though, we also ate olives from my grandmother’s olive tree. I have a distinct memory of a particular Sunday at Grandma’s house, when everyone was picking olives and then soaking them. The adults did whatever it was you had to do to pickle them and prepare them for eating.

Looking back, it was such a shame I did not take more notice as we hear of these things happening in Greece or Italy and I had no idea then what I was witnessing. But, according to programs like “Food Safari” on our SBS television (for my overseas readers, this is an ethnic television channel) Italians and Greeks still take time out to gather together as a family and have a pickling day for olives or the Italians make passata (tomato sauce for spaghetti) to last until the tomato season the following summer. Or they make salami from scratch which lasts through the year.

The part that I like most,  is when the whole family have a family feast afterwards, usually sitting at big long trestle tables out in the orchid or even in garages if they live in suburbia.  There are lots of ethnic cooking going on everywhere these days (and not just by Italians etc) but when I was young, it was certainly “not cool” to be eating the foods my family ate.

My mother made yoghurt from a starter culture and cooked grape-vine leaves that she stuffed with mince and rice. Another favourite was Lebanese pies made in triangles and deep-fried or baked in the oven. They were supposed to be served with yoghurt but we had ours with tomato sauce as a concession to the fact that we were, after all, half English and my mother was born in Australia! 

And that was something else that Italian, Greeks and Lebanese had in common: most of them had a grapevine growing. I know the Italians used the grapes for wine but the Greeks and Lebanese used the fresh tender leaves for stuffing. Therefore, it is no surprise that I have a lovely lush grape-vine growing at my house. (Photo taken early this summer).

Now in case you think I am going to bore you with tales of my healthy eating, think again! Because this blog is about “Wellbeing” (amongst other things), one must not limit oneself so dramatically, that one cannot enjoy family gatherings or the odd treat. I have the rhubarb cake all cut up and in the freezer waiting for visitors or for a weekend when I may just want to treat myself a little.

Wellbeing is about being balanced. It is not about enforcing one’s own food preferences on others or about being so strict that you cannot enjoy your life. So as we head into February tomorrow (and I share my Wellbeing calendar with you, let’s remember it is all about BALANCE.

This, I believe is the thing to remember:

One is never totally balanced 100% of the time. We  may veer to the left or to the right, but the important thing is to get back in balance whenever we notice ourselves slipping.

And don’t bash yourself up when you fail…

Until tomorrow.