The village encased in blank walls of heavy mist, a cow mooing somewhere out of sight. A friend has shared bunches of fresh fenugreek and handfuls of broad beans with me, so I am cooking up a storm.
And I am reading reviews of Colman Andrews’ biography of the molecular gastronomc chemistry schoolboy aka chef Ferran Adria. Years ago I ate at La Bulli in between rereading Cervantes’ Don Quixote and revisting battle sites of the Spanish Civil War. Aside from the haughtiness and inscrutability of uncommunicative macho waiters, I was astonished by a seagreen foam of what had once been plump ripe olives and perhaps a crust of Parmesan. It tasted delicious, but I was left with the impression of having eaten nothing at all. After a ravishing and improbable meal of six minute, invented dishes (including a gritty spoonful of frozen foie gras dust) I went out in my trim little bullfighter’s cape of scarlet and black and gobbled up tapas of manchego cheese, coddled eggs and chorizo, grilled anchovies, a creamy almond soup spiked with garlic. Spanish food is very more-ish.
The secret to Ferran Adria’s success? “His tongue is bigger than ours. He literally has a larger tongue than normal, with more papillae.” That may be so, but my appetite is much bigger than Ferran’s.
So good to be online again, my busy real life has gone into hiatus. Big Pharma watch from the London Review of Books, a hard look at the contested and unreliable history of bipolar disorder and the increasingly drastic treatments:
One now speaks of a ‘bipolar spectrum’, which includes, along with bipolar disorders I and II, cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar II) and bipolar disorder ‘not otherwise specified’ (an all-purpose category in which practically any affective instability can be placed). The spectrum also includes bipolar disorders II1⁄2, III, III1⁄2, IV, V, VI, and even a very accommodating ‘subthreshold bipolar disorder’.
The category has expanded so much that it would be difficult to find anyone who couldn’t be described as ‘bipolar’, especially now that the diagnosis is liberally applied to people of all ages. Conventional wisdom once had it that manic depression burns out with age, but geriatric bipolar disorder is now the talk of psychiatric congresses. Elderly people who are depressed or agitated find themselves diagnosed with bipolar disorder for the first time in their lives and are prescribed antipsychotics or anticonvulsants that have the potential to drastically shorten their life expectancy: according to David Graham, an expert from the Food and Drug Administration, these psycho-tropic medications are responsible for the deaths of some 15,000 elderly people each year in the United States.
Scary stuff! Time to give the Internet a break and do some gardening before the sun burns off the mist and it becomes too hot outdoors. The thing about sobriety is that we get to choose what happens each day and how we respond. Something else to be grateful for –
Thank you Mary, as always.