As we have more time on our hands in these periods of lockdown, three weeks extended to three more weeks and the possibility of even more. We are all trying to find things, hobbies, pastimes to occupy ourselves with. Men can’t play sports and even if they are working from home the lure of outside, cutting the lawn or trimming the edges beckons them away from the computer. Children, despite home schooling, which let’s face it, is never going to work because home is full of toys and TV. Women, us, have taken to baking. If we can get flour, or the other relevant ingredients which brings me to sugar.
I started thinking about sugar, it’s been such an important part of my life. I’ve tried on various occasions to limit sugar from my life but it’s so hard when I look back and see how enabled I was to abuse it. As a child I was a fussy eater so I had to be encouraged to eat and adding it became second nature. We didn’t have ‘low sugar’, ‘no sugar’ or ‘sugar free’. Let’s face it, it made all food more palatable to me.
Let’s start with breakfast. In the days of limited choice, cornflakes, porridge, or Weetabix was all we had. All would taste better with sugar. A bowl of cornflakes with milk and 2 heaped spoonfuls of sugar on top I swear it’s where Kellogg’s got ‘Crunchy Nut Cornflakes’ from. The secret was to eat them before all the sugar dissolved and in the bottom of the bowl was a sediment of sugar grains to crunch on. Weetabix soaked up all the milk rapidly and without that spoonful of sugar just became mush, I always found Weetabix better eaten dry with a thick layer of butter spread on top and a generous dusting of sugar. It goes without saying that there was always sugar on the top of porridge.
When that magical nanny said, quote, ‘A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down’ she was talking about me. As a sickly child the only way I would take any form of tablet was to crush it in a spoonful of sugar!
Lunch would consist of sandwiches, white bread of course, buttered and a chopped banana sprinkled with sugar or even forget the banana. Sugar sandwiches, yum.
Strawberries, or any fruit actually, tasted better dipped in sugar. Well they did when I was young. I have to admit that with a wiser palate fruit should never need added sugar, there are exceptions to this rule; gooseberries, redcurrants and rhubarb. There’s also cranberries which should be made into jelly with guess what? Sugar!
I’ve been drinking cups of tea since I was a little girl. When I was 7 years old it didn’t taste very nice, unless it had 2 spoons of sugar in it. I had lovely grannies who spoiled me and my grandparents positively encouraged the use of sugar everywhere, probably as a kick-back from the war when they couldn’t get it because it because of rationing and even granddad’s homegrown tomatoes tasted good with a teaspoon of sugar.
As a teenager I progressed to coffee. Coffee was coffee in those days, not extra frothy milk or added syrups. It was Maxwell House and it felt very grown up. It also had 2 teaspoons of sugar, it was the only way I could drink it.
Then there were the fizzy drinks, so sweet you could stand a spoon up in them. Surprisingly at this time, anything that said ‘Corona’ on the front was acceptable. Cream of soda was my favourite and there wasn’t a diet version of it.
I can’t blame sugar for my MS, possibly my weight and certainly the state of my teeth. I look with envy at other people’s pearly whites, Julia Roberts’ particularly. I try not to laugh out loud too often but in this time of social distancing, hopefully my fillings are not too visible. However, if the sun shines at the wrong angle the mercury reflects and gives me away.