Katya, originally from Ukraine but now living in Moscow, came to stay with us for over three weeks. She is probably a size 0. This is not an effortless status quo; it takes stringent discipline. I have been observing her relationship with food.
As part of our arrangement I am supposed to provide her with breakfast. But after a few days it became evident that this sylph-like body was dedicated to eating very little - her breakfast comprises a glass of still water and a banana peeled back carefully. But wait for it... after only two bites, the skin is folded back carefully like a condom being handled by an eager female in a new liaison.
What do you think she has for breakfast the next day? Banana on two consecutive days is not good for you , or so it seems. The next morning she delicately slices a chunk of halloumi with her carefully French polished hands. Nothing is added to these slices of forlorn and insipid looking cheese. Perhaps she is what you would call a “purist”. The whole plate is eaten very slowly, chewing each mouthful in a lingering movement of her Mongolian-like jaw, up and down. As for prominent cheekbones which are impacted by the masticating, they would put even Johnny Depp to shame! These cheekbones, stretched taut over translucent skin, are a sight to behold and quite mesmerising.
Dinner is equally puzzling; half a cup of brown rice, not washed - sacrosanct in my dictionary. Rice must be washed at least a dozen times till all the starch has been washed away. Here I have to interject and say that my mother, whose culinary skills were well known from the hick town Multan to Gulberg Colony in Lahore, would turn in her grave at the thought of cooking rice which is not Basmati and to boot not washed. Multan, by the way, is a small town where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid could easily have been filmed; it is so hot in the summer that there is a famous joke about it. A man dies and goes to hell; when he gets there he is approached by another resident as to why he is looking so miserable, to which he replies that he needs a blanket because he is freezing.
To get back to the preparation that goes towards the making of dinner, Katya will hover around the cooker, stirring this dreary looking brown mass of rice, which is getting increasingly pimply and ever more uninteresting. This entire process usually takes about 20 minutes, after which a spoon is planted in it and, would you believe, it remains in exactly the same position unaided. The end result would be better used for wallpapering paste.
She then proceeds to lay the table ceremoniously – a plate, a glass of water and a fork. It is a sad spectacle to behold, this young woman making the deprivation of nourishment to her body, her altar. I often wonder how much is due to the fact that she is married to someone who is at least 38 years older then her and has had at least two wives and who, by the way, happens to be immensely wealthy, hence the Prada killer high heels and Armani jeans she dons to strut her emaciated body.
To make food into such a science, instead of allowing flavours, smells and textures to melt into each other, optimising and enhancing the food produced, is such an unforgivable thing to do. To near enough produce a dissertation by studying the ingredients, by dividing them into proteins, carbohydrates et al in an almost maniacal manner is enough for me to nod my head and mutter under my breath and walk out of the kitchen and feel lucky to live with abandonment when it comes to my passion for food and eat whatever takes my fancy.
Digital photography has a lot to do with the crippling unhappiness that so many young women experience. They are all striving for what they see as perfection and therefore beauty. Beauty does not need to be perfect or symmetrical or devoid of flaws, imperfections. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder just as taste buds or palettes are subjective.