Tag Archives: Diet

The macaroni cure

18 Jul
Uncooked penne

Good news for the wine and pasta set... if your definition of "news" doesn't mean it has to be new...

As a pasta addict from way back, I hate people who say it’s bad for you. All those Dukan, Atkins and anti-carb crusaders who maintain it’s too processed and too white to be beneficial. Oh, they say, you can have a little bit, but not after 5pm, and make sure you have it with loads of vegetables, and while you’re at it, wholemeal has more fibre so use brown instead of white. And skip the cheese. And add tofu. And really, you shouldn’t eat it at all, so, while you’re at it, just leave out the pasta altogether. You won’t miss it. Trust me. And you’ll feel so much better!

Hmpf. Makes me want to hotfoot it to my nonna’s house who understands there is only one real serving size when it comes to pasta – huge – and only one way to eat it – with plenty of rich ragu and a hilltop of freshly grated parmesan.

So I was happy to read that Charles Napier doesn’t agree with the pasta puritans.

The English scientist maintains that macaroni is actually an excellent cure for alcoholism. He says that macaroni, and other products made from flour,  as well as dried peas and lentils, work by rendering the “carbon in an alcoholic drink both unnecessary and repulsive”.

He cites the case of one 60-year-old man who “was seriously impaired by his frequent excesses”. After an “almost fatal attack of delirium”, the man adopted a diet heavy on the macaroni and beans, and, somewhat miraculously, “a complete cure was effected in seven months”.

Sure, he said this in 1878, but good science is forever right?

Maybe not, but at least the Pastafarians will be pleased …


  • “Alcoholism and Farinaceous Food.” The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 July, 1878, 7.

Oh to be a fatso!

4 Mar
Strawberry tarts

Yes, I can eat those! These tarts would be approved on Brillat-Savarin's diet plan.

Every thin woman wants to grow plump: That is an avowal which has been made to us a thousand times.

Maybe in 1825 when you wrote that lovely line Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, but not anymore. And I am one of them. I want to be thin too. Or at least thinner. And so, in the name of thinness, over the last three weeks, I have denied myself all the things that make life good – cheese, bread, pasta, deep fried bounty bars…

But Brillat-Savarin, the much acknowledged granddaddy of gastronomy, would’ve thought me a twit of the highest order. Here’s the diet he prescribed for all those thin ladies who wished to “fill out their curves”:

GENERAL RULE. Much fresh bread will be eaten during the day, and particular care will be taken not to throw away the crumbs. Before eight in the morning, soup au pain or aux pates will be taken, and afterwards a cup of good chocolate.

At eleven o’clock, breakfast on fresh broiled eggs, petit pates, cotelettes, and what you please; have eggs, coffee will do no harm.

Dinner hour should be so arranged that one should have thoroughly digested before the time comes to sit down at the table. The eating of one meal before another is digested, is an abuse.

After dinner there should be some exercise; men as much as they can; women should go into the Tuilleries, or as they say in America, go shopping. We are satisfied that the little gossip and conversation they maintain is very healthful.

At times, all should take as much soup, potage, fish, etc., and also meat cooked with rice and macaronies, pastry, creams, etc.

At dessert such persons should eat Savoy biscuits, and other things made up of eggs, fecula, and sugar.

And then this, my favourite line:

This regimen, though apparently circumscribed, is yet susceptible of great variety.

I think I could manage a diet where the variety involved eating lots of fresh bread, noodle soup, hot chocolate, eggs, chops, meat with rice, macaroni, pastry and cakes made with eggs, flour and sugar, not to mention a punishing exercise schedule of shopping and gossiping. It sure beats no carbs, that’s for sure.

Sicilian canoli

No need to say to canoli on the Brillat-Savarin diet.

Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme.  The physiology of taste, or, transcendental gastronomy [electronic resource] translated from the last Paris edition by Fayette Robinson, http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/brillat/savarin/b85p/.