F and I went to school together and on our long, meandering walk home every day we developed complex games, peculiar songs and elaborate schemes. We see each other very rarely now, in fact until this year where I've spent a disproportionate amount of my time travelling back and forth between London and Manchester it had been about 5 years since we’d met up. But she wanted to come round and cheer me up and I offered in turn to cook us some supper. I'm pleased to say that F can still turn her inventive mind to a cunning plan. Her idea was born from watching friends and colleagues incessantly count things when out dining with them. They might be counting calories, points, carbs or some other unit designed to make you feel a little guiltier and enjoy your dinner less. Feeling left out she decided to devise a plan so that she could count her chosen units and modify her consumption accordingly. I hasten to add that her scheme has no nutritional value and has the unusual goal to accumulate as many points as possible, and points of course mean prizes! So how does one win points in her undeniably unique 'maintaining your C-level' diet? Well you may have guessed it; it is all about the letter 'C'! So the optimum foodstuffs are chicken, cheese, cream, chips, chocolate and cake (double points for chocolate cake!) In addition, if you are eating food not based around the letter 'C' then the knack is to add more food to top up your C-level and if all else fails resort to suitable adjectives and/or foreign languages. This brilliant regime wasn't explained to me until after I had cooked a restorative supper for us tonight but inadvertently I had not done too badly. The starter of salmon and leaves didn’t really work but I chose better for the main and dessert.
It's almost May and the English asparagus is just perfect but unbeknownst to me I had opted to turn a distinctly un C-level food round by anointing the spears in a soupçon of cheesy cream sauce. The fat bronzed happy chicken was a winner already. The Jersey Royal potatoes didn't really cut it but if I'd been forewarned I would have sautéed them and cut them differently and then described them as crispy cubes of potatoes to get those all important points.
We couldn't really go wrong with a gooey wedge of Gü chocolate tart but of course I would have achieved a higher score if I'd gone for a chocolate cake instead! And rather luckily I had some cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles to hand to wrap up the meal.
The drinks are another consideration, now a C-leveller is confined to drinking Chablis, Chardonnay and Champagne. I certainly don't mind a glass of bubbly but I prefer my wine redder so we decided that if I'd prepared I would have procured a bottle of Chianti Classico or a full-bodied ‘Cab Sav’ to follow a Champagne cocktail and for those who like that sort of thing you can finish with coffee. As I would favour an occasional tea I would from now on have to refer to it as a 'cup a char'! I can’t really think how to justify water unless I’d conveniently got some Cotswold, Chiltern Hills or Caledonian Spring. But again with curious foresight I’d served it in crystal glasses, does that count?
Showing that I haven’t lost my knack for such bizarre stratagems either I explained to F that for the bloggers’ choice blog party last year I had chosen the letter ‘J’. But I suspect that a diet based on Jaffa cakes, jacket potatoes, jam and jelly babies is sadly not really sustainable. We pondered whether it would viable for an F-plan but again I doubt that a menu of fish fingers, fennel and fudge would really work. So ‘C’ it is I guess!
Now that I am in the know I will plan my C-food menu very carefully next time. But I am so torn (I can so see why F chose C now). Firstly there would be crab on little croutes for a little nibble to accompany the Champagne and Chambord aperitif. Then the starter would be scallops cunningly in the form of coquilles Saint Jacques or perhaps Carpaccio drizzled with a little crème fraîche or even maybe a bowl of Cullen Skink. The main event could be the obvious chicken but it could be cod wrapped in crispy coppa (which is the pork shoulder or neck version of Prosciutto), served rather incongruously with cauliflower cheese, a pile of curly courgette ribbons and Chantenay carrots. I was trying to think how I could incorporate some potatoes without resorting to chips; a suggestion would be to add spring onions to mash potatoes to conjure up some delicious champ. This would be followed by a cheese course of sliver of Camembert on a cracker maybe. And if there was any room after that, a little pot of chocolate cream.
F envisages herself as a “maintaining the C-level” guru, desperate diners could contact her and ask for help with their culinary dilemmas. Imagine you really fancy Shepherd’s Pie tonight and the easy solution of opting for Cottage Pie is not what you want. So F would suggest adding carrot cubes and a little celery to the lamb and a crumbly Cheddar cheese to the potato topping, perhaps even rustling up some crunchy cabbage to go on the side.
Thank you F, the meal tonight definitely had the desired effect and cheered me up as I haven’t laughed so much for ages. I’ve been distracted from all the arrangements I need to organise and now have a new obsession – C-food!
And strange as it may seem, it just may catch on!