I have an old French friend who has been telling me for years that my tongue is ‘a little too acidic’. Well, it turns out he’s right.
In fact, my whole being (according to some pH tests I’ve just completed) is miles over to the acid end of the spectrum. Mix me up over a Bunsen burner in some water, and I’d be giving off hydrogen within seconds. I’ve been told this might explain a tedious wind problem – and the chronic tiredness I’ve been suffering of late.
Bottom burps are like gout: very funny when other people have got them, and the end of your membership of interesting society if you’re a sufferer. When the wind gets to the stage where you might as well teach your anus to speak, the condition is about as funny as leprosy. Something very obviously has to be done if you’re not to spend the remaining span on Earth in a well-ventilated shed at the epicentre of Dartmoor.
Anyway (the books and semi-expert dietician friends told me) you need to take lots of alkalising agents, and eat mainly alkaline foods for a bit. As in, maybe for the next two years. Oh – and stop drinking your weekly wine-lake.
All such journeys of discovery represent a steep learning curve. In my case, it’s been a 1 in 3 steeplechase kind of learning curve.
You won’t be surprised to learn that most of the fun foods that taste great are acid. People will tell you that God moves in mysterious ways, but nothing could be further from the truth: God is a straightforward prude with no interest in food and an unhealthy enthusiasm for self-flagellation. What you see is what you get with God. You wouldn’t want to do lunch with Him, or indeed anything very much. And ultimately, of course, God is a closet sadist: He leaves all these nice things lying around, and then labels every last one fattening at best, or a mortal sin at worst.
Desisting from cheese, tomatoes, steak, bacon, wheat-bread and black pepper is bad enough. But equally, there is a singular awfulness to some of the alkalising agents on offer. I supposesome people eat and drink such things from choice, but you could use up a Bank Holiday weekend wondering why.
One of these is an alkalising gel so odd it needs a new descriptor between food and drink. I’ve finally settled on drood, with all the ghostly connotations of such a word. It was probably developed originally by the special effects staff of Ghostbusters, and then adapted for alkalising use by adding the sort of consumption experience to die of. Think ectoplasm that tastes like bile-infused superglue. No, on the other hand, don’t: it wouldn’t even get you to the end of your road. What I’m saying is that if you gave 20mls of this stuff to Jilly Goulden, she’d be trying forever to get a hint of something familiar, and then fail miserably. Boy, would she ever be miserable after a plate of drood: the taste and consistency are, quite simply, indescribable.
The problem is, the concoction does work. Acid people, you see, digest and excrete food too quickly, and so it exits the body before many of the nutrients can be extracted. Hence the fatigue. But everything in the world of alkalising is a trade-off. You feel better quite quickly, and have post-traumatic taste disorder for the rest of your life.
Then there are the pills. Pills to make you greener, pills to energise without sugar, pills to put in the water and make it indistinguishable from what you’ll be peeing out an hour later, and pills to substitute for all the steak you can’t eat any more. I say ‘substitute’, but bringing on Barbara Windsor for Wayne Rooney is never going to be a crowd-pleaser. The ‘green’ pills I bought have a description on the side of the pack which is pure, distilled David Attenborough meets Kevin McCloud. ‘This algae was gathered from mountain lakes by Aztecs and used as a holistic building material for body and psyche over many centuries’.
Well, there you are. That must’ve been quite a distraction for the Aztecs – and certainly too much of one to deal with the advent of the Conquistadores. If only somebody had said “Look, sod the seaweed Axehotl, the Spanish are coming” there might have been a different result.
It’s also vital on your way up the north face of alkalinity learning to enter the world of The Arcane Grain. Just about the only one without ‘acid’ written next to it in the tables is buckwheat. I’ve got nothing against buckwheat: you can’t make blinis without buckwheat. However, buckwheat too comes with its own special alkalising baggage: you can’t have smoked salmon, crème fraiche or roe with the blinis; and blinis are it.
This isn’t what the buckwheat propaganda machine tells you, of course. ‘Buckwheat flakes make a delicious alternative to jumbo-oats porridge on a cold morning’ said the chubby mid-western Mom covered in buckwheat flour on her website Buckwheat Century.
No they don’t, lady. I am the Oracle when it comes to jumbo-oat porridge, and buckwheat flakes are to porridge as Alistair Campbell is to scruples. Buckwheat flakes merely make more bloody ectoplasm. They do not an al dente porridge make. With a brand repositioning, water and ten minutes drying time, Buckwheat could challenge Ronseal’s contemporary dominance of the woodfilla market. But outside of blinis, buckwheat mainly makes everyone depressed. Except for Kevin McCloud of course. Kevin could base a whole series of Grand Designs on the stuff: ten people who took on the Buckwheat Barn Challenge and won.
I’m a week into this now, and I have to tell you that Dartmoor sheds are looking increasingly attractive. They’re inexpensive, and only likely to go up in value. I could collect the methane for use as cooking gas. I could use drood as a combined damp-proofer and insect repellent. I could build the roof-supports using 4×2 buckwheat. Rivet-on the roof-tiles with algae pills. Recycle all the alkalising books we’ve bought as insulation.
And doze gently between servings of food chosen solely for its ability to turn litmus paper postbox red.
Copyright John Ward January 2010