Friday, April 27, 2012

Food Rather Than Fuel

I would guess that bananas is one of the most common foods for runners.They are just so handy to eat at either the beginning or end of a run. At the beginning they are easy on the stomach don't cause the problems of some other foods and at the end they are just the most convenient way of replacing some carbs. 
I eat them a lot and don't really think about it. They are just there (today I might be down to the last one in the bowl but tomorrow that will change). I obviously don't eat them with enough attention: they are pleasant, I enjoy them, I probably eat them too quickly. That is all
Yesterday I went to see a production of Krapp's Last Tape, which opens with the old man (Krapp) rummaging around in a desk drawer and pulling out a banana. He then proceeds to unpeel and then eat it with obvious delight as if it is the most delicious thing in the world.  Through only his expressions the actor shows you the deep pleasure the man feels and it made me think about how I take the same fruit for granted. 
The play was written in 1958, when war, rationing, and the absence of any bananas was still fresh in the mind. The fruit still had a special place. Now it is the most popular fruit in the country and a key product for the supermarkets. Nevertheless I should still take care to savour them. I should not think of them as fuel, which is a danger for anything linked too closely to running.
I always avoid nutritional advice in the running press. I depresses me no end as it talks of things being a source of this or that nutrient, which is beneficial for this or that reason. It talks about fuel and refuelling. It incorporates a hell of a lot of pseudo science. It has nothing to do with pleasure and culture.
A proper running blog will tell you a banana is a good source of potassium and vitamin B6, that also contains fibre and is low in fat. This blog however prefers to remind you of the opening of Krapp's last Tape and how they can be eaten with deep pleasure.
Food is far too important to be put into the hands of nutritionists as it is about far more than keeping you alive (although that is obviously very important). It should be explored, appreciated and be allowed to stimulate the senses. If you do that and eat real food, mostly vegetables, then health and everything else will take care of itself. That is all I know and all I care to know.
P.S. One of my favourite banana stories comes from an article in the Observer:
"When transatlantic shipping re-commenced at the end of the war, the return of the banana was hailed as heralding an end to austerity and to the curse of the ration book. The Labour government even instigated a national banana day in 1946. Every child should have a banana that day, it was decreed - sometimes with unfortunate results, as the writer Auberon Waugh recalled. He and two of his sisters received their quota of three precious bananas, an exotic fruit whose deliciousness they had heard of but never experienced.'They were put on my father's plate, and before the anguished eyes of his children he poured on cream, which was almost unprocurable, and sugar, which was heavily rationed, and ate all three,' Waugh wrote. 'From that moment, I never treated anything he had to say on faith or morals very seriously.'"

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