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How sexy can a salad be?

Food24 columnist and restaurateur Cathy Marston realises that she'd have to restrain her brain to lose weight in 2009.

by: Cathy Marston | 12 Jan 2009

Well here we go. Another year, another feeble and doomed attempt to lose weight coming up.

I don't know why I put myself through the agony every year except that I really cannot keep replacing my entire wardrobe every twelve months. Also, it might be nice to be able to walk more than two yards without getting out of breath so I suppose that I don't really have a choice about this – it's calorie-counting time once more.

It's all about the words
I was contemplating my next weight loss programme and I have come to the conclusion that the reason I am unsuccessful is all about the words. Nothing to do with the excess of calories as opposed to expenditure of energy – it's the words.

Think about it. When you start on a diet or visit a dietician, how do they tell you to prepare your food? In the most unattractive sounding terms around. Can the word 'broil' ever be sexy?

I don't think so. Same goes for 'steam', 'boil' and 'grill'. In fact, if it comes right down to it, even 'salad' sounds cold, clinical and sharp. Contrast that with 'roasted' and, for extra sex-appeal, 'slow-roasted'. Just the word itself seems to cry out to be said slowly and deliberately whilst licking your lips lasciviously. Same goes for 'creamed', 'sautéed' and 'glazed' – chockfull of calories in every word and every one of them worth it.

Sexy or scary
I am a little unsure on the word 'fricassee' – I can’t quite decide whether that is sexy or scary – but most other descriptors are definitely one thing or another and unfortunately, all the ones I like, are the ones which involve fat.

When I start thinking about food in this sort of way, I am inevitably reminded of that cult 80's movie, Nine and a Half Weeks with Mickey Rourke doing unmentionable things to Kim Basinger's midriff with a strawberry or four. And of course, the spoofed version in Hot Shots! involving Charlie Sheen, Valeria Golino, two fried eggs, a cheeky little tomato and a couple of rashers of bacon. I am sorry to say that I know which version I would prefer and it doesn't include the fruit.

The problem is that I love strongly-flavoured food and, as everyone knows, the best carrier of flavour is fat. I am sure that all the healthy choices my dietician wants me to make are very worthy, but I cannot help thinking, somewhat mutinously, that they are also very boring too.

Bring on the bacon
Still, I must persevere. Now that I know that my problem is mental not physical, I guess it's just a case of retraining my brain. If I can only tell myself that salad is sexy, grilled chicken is charming and fresh fish is fulfilling, then perhaps my diet will have half a chance this year. And if not, then perhaps I should tell Kevin to throw away the frying pan, bring the bacon to the bedroom and we'll see if a little extra exercise will help lose those kilos instead.

All other creative ideas for weight loss welcome, but excuse me just now – we’re frying tonight!

Cathy Marston is the owner of The Nose Restaurant and Wine Bar and a fulltime, professional eater and drinker. Any food, any drink, anywhere, anytime...

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