Excess and fixations

My favorite television program at the moment is The Amazing Race. In case you have never watched this U.S. program, it's a reality/adventure show where 11 teams of 2 (the combinations vary from married or dating couples to parent and child, roommates, best friends, and so on) race around the world and try to end up being the first at each leg's destination. The final winner wins $1 million. It's really a fun show that even many reality genre haters like.

My reason for posting about it here though was thinking back to past seasons and the various food challenges they have had. Unlike other shows such as Survivor, where the 'eating' challenges usually involve trying to swallow something disgusting, the food related challenges in Amazing Race have usually involved eating a particularly unfamiliar local delicacy, often in huge amounts. A couple of seasons ago, the show made its frenetic way to Moscow, where the contestants had to eat 1 kg of caviar. Now, I do love caviar, but even I could imagine that task being very hard, since caviar is very salty. Later on in the same series, the challenge was to cook and eat a whole ostrich egg. I love eggs too but eating the equivalent of 2 dozen eggs in one go, in a big hurry, might be very tough too. I wouldn't be surprised if none of the contestants could stand even looking at caviar, or even scrambled eggs, for some time after.

My most memorable moment of 'excess' was some years ago, during my first trip to Switzerland as an adult. I had read somewhere that the Caillers factory in Broc offered free tours of their chocolate factory. So, of course I had to go. In a nutshell, it was really a chocolate-immersion experience: the squeaky-clean factory was filled with the scent of melted chocolate. And at the end of the tour, the nirvana everyone on the tour had been waiting for: a room with a big table, loaded with various chocolates to try. Yes, I did sample it of course, and it was so good. But about 10-15 minutes after I entered the room, I suddenly felt overwhelmed. Chocolate in my mouth, chocolate in the air, chocolate, chocolate everywhere. I left the room and the factory in rather a hurry, just to breathe some fresh air - though even outside, the chocolate scents lingered. And for at least a full year after that factory tour, I couldn't stand chocolate at all! It took that long to recover from that chocolate-excess experience. I'm happy to report that I have long since recovered fully. :)

I do have a tendency to develop a food fixation on one particular item for some time, then suddenly go 'off' it. While I was working in New York, for at least six months or so kept on having one particular sandwich at least two or three times a week for lunch. It was a country ham, watercress and Brie cheese on soft rye bread with honey mustard from a local deli. It was really good, but why I had to have it repeatedly for such a long time is a mystery to me still. (And no, I wasn't pregnant or otherwise in an altered state of health.) It's almost like I wanted to really immerse myself in these particular tastes until they became part of my food memory. Then, one day I was suddenly "off" that sandwich.

I haven't had such long-term fixations since then - and I haven't had that sandwich since then either. But I still remember it clearly.

Maki's Fixation Sandwich

Take two slices of soft rye bread, and smear each with honey mustard. Add several slices of baked ham, well washed and dried watercress, and a couple of wedges of room-temperate Brie. A nice fat pickle on the side is the perfect accompaniment.

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