Eating & Drinking: The White Way to Recover

By Durack, Terry | The Independent (London, England), November 21, 1999 | Go to article overview
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Eating & Drinking: The White Way to Recover


Durack, Terry, The Independent (London, England)


I HAD BEEN throwing up for three days. All my longed-for dreams of La Grande Bouffe in Lyons were going down the drain. It had taken me years to get there, and many hours spent planning meals in the local bouchons, bistros, and three-star Michelin restaurants. I had entertained visions of buckets of Beaujolais and tables groaning with firemen's aprons (crumbed and grilled tripe), hams cooked in hay and sausages wrapped in brioche.

To set the tone for this gastronomic odyssey, I kicked things off with a visit to a local eatery that served a particularly fine andouillette, an earthy, foul-smelling, divine-tasting sausage made of pig's intestines. I wined, I dined, I laughed, I caroused. Then, at about 3am, back in bed at my hotel, I writhed, I winced, I convulsed, I groaned. No buckets of Beaujolais and fireman's aprons for me anymore. Just buckets.

Then, miraculously, on the third day, I rose again, struck by an unfamiliar pang. Could it be? Yes, it was! Hunger. I went into the first restaurant I could find, an unassuming lunch-time spot called Guillaume Tell. The menu swam before my eyes. Everything was too rich, too creamy, too this or too that. Then my eyes fixed on the one thing on the menu that I could swallow. Oeuf en gelee.

There it was, a single egg encased in a glistening, savoury jelly. It's not a good thing to do to an egg, really. A week earlier, I would have called it bland, boring and a waste of good eating-time. But my first tentative mouthful was full of flavour, depth and complexity. I missed not a single nuance of the smooth egg white, the lusciousness of the yolk, the hint of tarragon.

There are some foods that you can only fully appreciate when you are in a weakened state. Something happens to your taste buds when you get sick that makes them ultra-sensitive and ultra-receptive to barely-there flavour compounds.

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