Recipes and the connexion between garlic and paragliding

It’s been pretty grey, cold, damp weather recently, the sort of weather when you tend to stay indoors.  Gardening out of the question.  Walking not very stimulating.   The mind starts wandering, mainly backwards rather than forwards. It’s amazing how the brain makes connexions.  Mega-rambling.

I was making the midday meal yesterday when it struck me that I’ve made that particular dish several times recently.  I’m getting into a groove.  Or is it a rut?  I’ve eaten it a lot recently because it’s easy to make, nutritious …..  and very tasty.

The recipe? – Boil pasta (wholemeal) for 10 minutes and, while it’s cooking, chop up a stick or two of celery (quite small), a handful of cherry tomatoes, and 2/3/4 cloves of garlic (depends how much you like garlic).  Cut 2 or 3 slices of peppered salami into small pieces.  Add the whole lot plus half a small bottle of pasta sauce to the pasta after draining it and heat for about 5 minutes.  Whole process only takes 15-20 minutes.

I digress.

Fact is that the realisation I was getting into a culinary rut triggered the recollection that when I was in college I had Welsh rarebit with raw onion every day for months on end.  Throughout my time in college, and indeed for 10 years afterwards, I didn’t have a day’s illness which helped to reinforce my view that eating raw onions and garlic have very positive health effects.  This was further reinforced in 1990 when the New Scientist published research results on the subject.  Why I do remember the year so clearly?

Simple, I went skiing in Switzerland and encountered Miss Haw-Haw.  That’s not her real name of course but she was hyphenated.   She was staying in the same chalet as me and the mountaineering club crew with her coterie of fellow merchant bankers (both a fact and a euphemism).  They kept themselves very much to themselves, having nothing to do with us oiks from the lower classes and cliquing-up at mealtimes.  But one evening we conspired to split them up and force them into conversation.

Conversation with Miss Haw-Haw turned to healthy eating and the benefits of garlic.  Tongue-in-cheek I suggested that the benefit of garlic in keeping people free of colds and viruses was that others avoided them because of the smell, hence no infectious contact.  To which came the Hawty retort that health food shops sell garlic powder which is free of smell.  With the New Scientist article fresh in mind I contributed the view, supported by the research, that the health-giving properties of garlic and onions is in the essential oils – the smelly bit.  Take away the smell and it is nolonger effective.

With max-haughtiness came the memorable verdict “They sell it in health food shops. Of course it works!”. With a sharp intellect and worldly wisdom like that it isn’t surprising that these City Types earn such good money.  Certainly reinforced my prejudices.

Flagging conversation then turned to what everyone might do the following afternoon when the higher temperatures and sunshine made the snow too soft for skiing.  This time Miss Haw-Haw and I were of the same mind.  We had seen a poster advertising paragliding for 20 Swiss francs.  We both fancied some of that.  But there we parted company again.  I thought the instructor would show us what to do and we would then lob off a mountain on our own, a prospect I relished.  She thought it would a two-up ride down behind a hunky instructor.  Needless to say, and very annoyingly, she was right and I was wrong.

This really rankled.  Big time.  So much so that when we got back home and found out that some of the guys from the mountaineering club had organised a paragliding ‘come-and-try-it’ weekend I immediately signed up.  And got very firmly hooked.  I have lobbed off mountains in the Alps several times since.

Therefore I have to reluctantly admit that I owe Miss Haw-Haw and her rosy view of the morality and integrity of the retail trade, and of the efficacy of garlic powder, a debt of gratitude.

Amazing how the mind makes connexions.  And amazing how it incentivises action.

You will also note from the above recipe that I am still hooked on raw garlic.


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