The jam story

About five years ago, or more, my grandmother had told me this story about how come we never had jam, because my father didn’t like it. She recalled that somewhere during the last stages of Commie Romania, there was once such a big shortage of food that they ate bread with jam for three weeks. My grandmother had frequent food supply problems anyway, since she was working almost two shifts daily, was a single-mother and diabetic. That is, never had the time to stay in queue for food1. I did ponder on the idea of hating specific food since he could have hated something else, bread, water, sugar. Maybe he didn’t like jam in first place, but, still.

I forgot about all that until last year, when I’ve returned from working abroad. During my shopping routines, I bought rice, cooked it and at home it tasted stale and dull. I assumed it was the salting and spicing, so I tried again. During several weeks. Still tasting bad.

While I worked in The NL for almost three months, my main staple food was rice. Rice is ridiculously cheap, probably imported from Surinam. I had bought a few kilos of the white surinamese one, a box of a whole brown one and a mixture of 5:2 rice spoons was my daily lunch box. My cooked rice usually came along with spinach leaves (or frozen vegetables) and, depending on the day, a boiled egg, fish or chicken. Somewhere around my last days of work, it ended up being both meat and eggs.

Having lived in Spain for too long was a handicap for moving to NL, since my body got used to the semiarid climate2 and was expecting 30C in April and May, with cold nights3, not 20C for 15 minutes at most. My daily cycling route was at least 35 kilometers long. Most of the days were clouded, rainy, wet, cold and with winds capable of throwing me out of the road.

The Erasmus stipend I had at the time turned out into a bad joke for me, since my original estimation of the food’s cost tripled. I had stopped eating breakfast in my childhood, ten years before and I never had to buy so many protein-rich foods, along with fruit. I was having fresh milk at sunrise, sweet cake, three meals at work + coffee (sandwiches, rice stew and apples4) and dinner. And my knees were still hurting. At a certain point, I could no longer even afford buying butter so I switched to… margarine5. Quality wine was also way too expensive and I was struggling with anxiety.

The end of the story is that I stopped eating rice and along with it, most of my vegetable+rice stews & stir-fries. As a person who was a fatass child and struggled with weight gain for the entire lifetime, and after previously having managed to lose weight after three keto diets, I lost all interest in the food who could have helped me to keep being slender.

Jam! I don’t regret anything though.

Footnotes

  • ^1 not a cash register one, there were queues to get whatever food available was being brought into the shop. starting outside of the shop.
  • ^2 Mediterranean, my ass!
  • ^3 the worst here isn’t actually the heat but the high difference between nights and days.
  • ^4 elstar!