The following year we moved to Belgium, the wallon part of Brabant, Steve having accepted a job in Brussels. The first thing we acquired was a nice big car, a Volvo made in Belgium and therefore cheaper than in other countries. Its much vaunted steel-frame would, we hoped, protect us in future accidents. Fortunately it was never put to the test.
The next thing that happened to me and, I am sorry to say, through me to my family, was a certain affection for food fadism. Belgium was the stronghold of a far eastern doctrine according to which the food we take in determines the rest of our lives. Take in the right food and it will put your mind right; you will be able to think right and conduct your affairs in the right way; everything will turn out right. I am ashamed to confess that I fell a victim to this doctrine. To this day I do not know why.
The practical consequences for my family were cereals, cereals, cereals, because they were the right food – cooked, baked, fried; flakes, grains, flour, supplemented by certain far eastern specialities. A few vegetables thrown in, a little milk, a little cheese; meat for Steve only who had it grimly on his own. Meat was bad for you, but he would not see that. I was not going to force him and went to the butcher twice a week to buy a lamb chop. How could I do on one lamb chop, the butcher wondered. I explained the situation and he was even more amazed – how can you be without meat ? No problem for me, I smiled serenely. A problem for him, maybe, and his business. No doubt he was glad there was only the odd crazy person around.
Steve loves plenty of vegetables for his meals. He will not grumble too much, if there is a plateful of them. I was cutting down on precisely that, prepared them in a special Japanese way with a lot of salt, making the dish very concentrated and palatable only in small portions. It was trying him to the extreme. One day he rebelled openly, showing all his celtic mettle : flashing eyes, clenched fists, an onion smashed on the kitchen floor. My poor husband ! I had little sympathy with him then and all the more now. I hold it greatly to his credit that he stubbornly and doggedly without saying anything really passed through this difficult time with me. All I could do at this moment of revolt was to remind him of the “starving millions” throughout the world. This finished him off. He banged the door and went to the nearest restaurant, leaving me behind shaking my head. Under these circumstances our third child was conceived and born. She turned out to be a volcano ! And this in spite of the extreme care I took over my diet during the pregnancy and over hers in her early years.
We knew an elderly gentleman in our neighbourhood who lived on his own in a caravan. He had all the books about my food doctrine. We had many talks together, complaining bitterly that not more people opened their minds to this wholesome teaching. Sweetness, which has a negative impact on us, is to be avoided, if possible at all, according to this doctrine. I remember how disgusted I was when I once caught our elderly friend eating blackstrap molasses by the teaspoon ! No teeth in his mouth either !