Lunch next to the stream is a pleasant part of the angling experience, a midday respite from the fishing, a time to reflect on the morning’s exertions and, if you’re fishing with a partner, a time to compare notes or just talk about things in general.
As I sat high enough up on the walls of a canyon to escape the smell of pink salmon putrefaction and afford myself a view of the pellucid pool some 20 metres below me, I pulled a glass container out of my pack then popped off its plastic lid. Oona, my sole companion that day, watched the operation with an intensity that dogs reserve for times before the appearance of food.
I haven’t forgotten you I said, staring into her doleful eyes while reaching back into the pack for the bag containing two pairs of chickens’ feet, which I then threw a few metres to the side so that I could concentrate on feeding myself.
As Oona crunched through claws and bone, I pulled out my thermos bottle, unscrewed the top then the lid, releasing the sweet aroma of green tea laced with a Moroccan mint. I filled the cup to the brim before tightening the top and sinking the bottle into the deep green moss so as to keep it upright.
Next I unwrapped the waxed paper containing my sandwich. I’ve gone to wax paper, away from those little plastic bags partly because the bags are not so easily recycled, but mainly for nostalgic reasons, for the waxed paper reminds of the lunches I ate at school on those special occasions, almost 60 years ago, when my grandmother had an appointment and wouldn’t be at home to make me a bowl of soup.
I sank my teeth into the sandwich of roast beef that the woman manning the deli counter at the grocery market assured me was carved from a grass fed cow, and savoured the tang created by the mustard, sharp cheddar, and romaine lettuce I’d used to garnish it. After chasing the sandwich with another small cup of tea, I chomped down one of the Farleigh’s Kispiox carrots, a big, fat, radiant orange specimen with a sweet flavour and none of the stringy toughness one finds in super market carrots. When I’d finished all but the butt end, I hurled it down into the canyon then watched it float through the tail and into the cataract below as I tore the pinkish flesh from the rind on the orange I’d cut into segments. It was a small orange, slightly oblong, and full of seeds, a quality I love in oranges because, like waxed paper, they remind me of old fashioned lunches, and because oranges without seeds seem out of kilt with the natural order of things, and because spitting each seed provides a little moment of glee.
As I downed the last cup of tea along with a handful of nuts, I thought about the transformation my fishing lunches have gone through and how they reflected my attitude toward food and time.
When Finlay was in his spry seventies and I in my early thirties, our fishing lunches were distinctly inorganic. We would swing into Tim Hortons on our way to the stream and pick up large cups of that strangely addictive coffee with two sugars and two milks – the infamous double double – unmindful of the traffic hazard and pollution caused, first, by using the drive-thru and, later, by navigating Highway 16 while juggling paper cups filled with scalding liquid.
At the assembly line the company calls a drive-thru window, we’d order up a sandwich made of white, gluten-laden, factory bread, processed cheese, nutrient free iceberg lettuce, low grade deli meat from some kind of modified beast, trans fat in margarine form, and a pale tomato.
To wash this gut bomb down, we’d purchase a bottle of juice, which, being pulp free, was as sugar laden as a can of pop. As a dessert treat after this toxic lunch, we’d buy a jam filled doughnut. Yum.
Only after suffering a stroke, did I begin to ponder the essence of a doughnut. Before consuming another one, you should too, for what is a doughnut but a glob of white flour fried in fat then coated in sugar?
All our cells need sugar. And there is now a strong suspicion, and much debate that cancer cells thrive on the stuff. We know too that the human body reacts badly to white flour and that gluten kills the growing number of people who suffer celiac’s disease. On balance, it appeared to me that a doughnut is about as good for you as a cigarette. In fact, it may be worse.
Dr. Robert Lustig, the noted endocrinologist, in his book Fat Chance persuasively argues that fructose, specifically, and fast food, generally, is responsible for mucking up the human endocrine system causing something called metabolic syndrome. Included in this syndrome are such nasty afflictions as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardio-vascular diseases. It is, in short, the number one killer and largest medical problem today, one which will bankrupt the US health system, predicts Lustig.
Continued next week…