In the first installment
I: What we eat, and why
II: Why a fruit diet?
III: Fruitarians, Families and Friends

In this installment:
IV: Shopping for Basics
V: A Fruitarian Breakfast
VI: Later in the Day
VII: Fruitarian Drinks

In the final installment
VIII: A Fruitarian Diary
IX: A Fruitarian Commitment
X: Epilog

IV: Shopping for Basics

Fruits. What are they?

Well, the obvious ones are obvious. But when you start listing them you realize what a tremendous variety there really is.

There are the citrus fruits: oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits. The berries: raspberries, red and blackcurrants, gooseberries, cherries. Apples, pears, plums, apricots and nectarines. Dates. Grapes red and green, seedless if you can get them. Melons: delicious red watermelons, sweet honeydews, cantaloupes, and the many fancy varieties. Mangoes and papayas. Bananas provide vital nutrients. Avocados and tomatoes are also fruits.

In a separate table (link below) we give nutritional details for various fruits. The banana is very versatile, attractive for its own flavor, as a sweetener (we put it in homemade jams too), and as a thickener for smoothies. Additionally it has long been recognized as a rich food source. The banana holds a heavy concentration of natural sugars, almost 20% by weight. This makes it a convenient source of energy, and thus a favored treat of athletes, and outdoor enthusiasts, to say nothing of dieters, who benefit greatly from the banana's low fat and total lack of cholesterol. Indeed, thanks to its high pectin content bananas are known to reduce blood cholesterol significantly. Bananas also have generous quantities of phosphorus, iron, thiamin, calcium, and beta carotene. The banana contains an abundance of potassium, which has been called "the salt of the intelligence", perhaps because it figures in most so-called brain food.

Fruitarians eat mainly fruit, but with the addition of grains, beans and nuts. There is no death involved here.

Nuts: well, whatever you can find at a reasonable price, depending on season or whatever your local store may have "on special". Keep a lookout and stock up when the going's good! Nuts should preferably be taken in the morning (great with breakfast fruit), rather than evening as they are not so easily digested. Sunflower seeds are among the cheapest nuts and are very nutritious. Soya nuts too are cheaper than most others. It is good to mix your nut intake a little, for each of the many varieties of nuts has different nutrients to offer.

Beans. For novice fruitarian chefs, get baked beans in tomato sauce (avoiding the beans with pork addition!), then add chopped fruits. Apple, citrus, tomato, avocado all go well. Season with savory seasonings which I will enumerate in a moment. And there you have a tasty meal. A fruitarian meal!

But there are other beans too. I get many different kinds of beans in cans. Large red kidney beans, small black beans, white butter beans, mid-size brown beans which the Egyptians have for breakfast ("fasouliya"), green broad beans, lentils, chick peas (make hommos among other things)... etc etc.

Grains. Sweetcorn (one of the few food items apart from beans that cans well), and of course the many varieties of wheat and wheat-like substances you can bake with. Dried soy beans and sesame seeds can also be mixed in with fruit dishes.

In case you are not too familiar with the different kinds of flour, I should mention that there are two kinds of wheat flour: strong bread, and cake-and-pastry. "All-purpose" is a compromise. Strong bread is good for yeast breads as it is more elastic. Cake-and-pastry is good for... well, cakes and pastries, things you bake with baking powder or baking soda.

These are some of the raw materials you have to work with.

Fruits are basically - well, fruity, which in general means, if not always sweet, at least not savory. Actually there are exceptions as already noted: tomatoes are a fruit. So is avocado. But there's not too much that's really savory in the fruit line. So if you want savory, there's an armory of additives (if you'll pardon the expression). They're quite harmless ones of course, in fact beneficial really.

One important savory additive is de-bittered yeast powder, or Brewer's Yeast. Engavita is a specific kind, a nice-tasting, golden yellow powder. But you'll have to get what you can at your health or bulk food store - or maybe in a packet if all else fails. Yeast powder has all the B vitamins and lots of other goodies. And it has a really nice flavor to it - at least Engavita does anyway, and so should de-bittered yeast in general. If it does taste bitter try another kind. Also get some powdered yellow mustard in. Used sparingly it adds zest to dressings etc and is also good for the throat. I also keep soy sauce to hand - preferably the plain Chinese kind, not the fancy Japanese ones though they are good as well (but pricey!).

I also use good quality vegetarian pasta sauce for all manner of things. It goes well with salads (yes, "fruit" salads!), and makes a delicious savory bread. But it goes off quite quickly in its big jar so when you've used half of it, decant it to a smaller container, and an even smaller one when it gets near the end. Check the label contents; go for the kind that is made with real chopped tomatoes - the cheaper ones just have tomato paste and water.

We always keep a jar of falafel powder handy. Actually it comes in a packet or loose; we get it loose. Falafel is an Arab food designed for the desert caravans. It contains a lot of nutritious substances in dried form which only need the addition of water. It has gained wide popularity and is now also produced in California and other places. Falafel consists of dried pulses (mainly chick peas), herbs and spices, all ground to a roughish powder. The desert caravans would carry it. Mix it with water or some leftover tasty liquid (perhaps the liquid from a can of plain beans), form into cakes and fry it. We used to go to a shop in Beirut (long before it destroyed itself; back in the late 1950s when it was one of the world's Great Places). It was called Falafel Misr (Misr=Egypt) and they made fantastic falafel sandwiches in pocket (pita) bread with tahini (creamed sesame seeds), tomatoes, green peppers and parsley. I firmly believe that if the great American hamburger chains offered identical bun/salad "hamburgers" but made with falafal instead of animal flesh they'd soon find they had a runaway success on their hands! Falafal powder can also be used as a seasoning or a thickener in many ways.

TVP or textured vegetable protein comes in dry, shredded form and can also be added to food for extra nutriment.

Benjamin Franklin came across some interesting beans, known as Chinese Caravances, while serving in England as the agent for the colony of Pennsylvania. The beans, which could be made into "a kind of cheese", fascinated him. He sent a few back to America with instructions that they be distributed to farmers willing to plant them. The Chinese Caravance is now known as the soybean, and the seeds that Franklin sent home gave rise to a soybean harvest currently worth $10 billion each year to American farmers. The "cheese" that so interested Franklin can be found in health stores today - it's called tofu.

Soya beans are a bit tough to chew, but when left an hour or two or overnight in a saucy salad or fruit salad they soften and take on a very pleasant texture as well as being nourishing. BUT make sure you get the roasted ones; the raw, unroasted beans are very tough. Tofu is a tasteless but very nourishing soy product which can be used with salads or morning fruit. It is easy to get in some places, difficult or impossible in others. When we became vegetarian thirty-five years ago we didn't tell people because they thought we were crazy and they were quite sure that we would quickly fade away for want of "proper nourishment" - in the form of fatty meats, cheese and other delectables. Today almost everybody seems to be either vegetarian, or heading that way, or at least quite open to it. But becoming a fruitarian is something relatively new, and those attempting to follow this path are pioneers. So expect to hunt for things; if you don't find them prod people into action, and when you do find them, always remember to encourage and support those who produce and sell them.

Fortunately fruits themselves are not too hard to find in plentiful quantity and variety.

At this point a word or two should be said about proportions. A fruitarian diet is mainly fruit - I'd say 70-80% should be pure fruit. The rest would be beans or bread/cake, with only a small proportion of tofu and even less of nuts.

Now for the tools of your trade.

You will need a good chopping board (you'll be doing lots of fruit chopping!), and whatever knives you find suitable (it's important to have good knives which are well balanced, sharp, and do the different jobs properly). You'll need a decent grater too, for grating that wonderful zest from the skins of citrus fruits. It's worth getting decent equipment for the job.

Also absolutely essential is a tall, upright, goblet-style liquidizer - what we call a whizzer. This is not the same as the flatter type of food processor which doesn't puree things so well (though you need a food processor too, preferably one with a grater and a shredder attachment).

So much for the basics. Now you're all set. Or almost.

I mentioned earlier (though you may have skipped it - we often skip things we don't like to accept!) that we eat for many different reasons. Ego-building and emotional consolation after a rough day are two major reasons. Becoming a fruitarian is not just a change in diet, it is a change in attitude. Indeed the change in attitude really comes first, or at least it runs a few paces ahead. You can't change your diet without this change in attitude.

The change in attitude means relaxing, gradually altering your lifestyle if necessary to ensure that you are doing what you really want to do, eliminating tensions, and trying to get into closer touch with your intuition so that you can "go with the flow of evolution" rather than clinging to things you have outgrown or allowing your ego to dominate your thinking.

As you change, so your tastes in food will change. And as you eat lighter food, so your body will change and your intuition will awaken. The two work together, one helping the other.

Becoming a fruitarian requires that you look at yourself, your thoughts and emotions, your lifestyle in general, check what you're doing, and ask yourself precisely why you are doing what you're doing. Particularly, in the present context, why you eat what you eat. Once you begin to examine and identify your motives you can begin to control them, you can begin to select foods which provide your body and spirit what it needs, without overloading or excess.

The reason I have dwelt on that subject is to prepare you, or try to do so, for the less-sensual foods which fruitarianism will require you to prepare and to consume. And it's really a double-bombshell, because fruit is best taken uncooked, so we're looking at many more uncooked meals. Cooking food reduces its nutrients and condenses it, thus fooling the body into taking too much. Even before you become fruitarian you would do well to take as much uncooked food as possible, though avoiding of course those vegetables which are indigestible when taken raw.

Fruits do not naturally lend themselves to cooking, so fruitarianism and not-much-cooking tend to go together. I am only warning you because uncooked foods are less inherently sensual than cooked foods, so be prepared!

I can only say, having given these dire warnings, that although your future fruit diet may sound Spartan and uninteresting, I would never go back to the rich, sensual foods I used to like. And I was quite a gourmet in my old, pre-fruit days. In fact I'm still a gourmet now, and I hope that with some prompting and a little invention on your part you will soon come to prepare and enjoy fruit as much as or preferably more than whatever sensual indulgences you may enjoy at present! Remember also that one of the major pleasures (yes, pleasures) of fruitarianism is getting up after a meal and not feeling all the fullness and solidity in the system which you often feel after a large, rich cooked meal. Much of the pleasure in today's foods comes from the eating; much of the pleasure we fruitarians enjoy comes both during, and after the meal.

Just take it slowly, using more fruit all the time, cooking less and less, reducing the quantity of your intake. Give it a year, why not? We did. The body wasn't built for sudden change, and doesn't react well to it.

Now for some recipes. Generally these are not firm recipes however, but guidelines as a basis for your own experimentation. When you are using uncooked fruit it is much easier to "mix and match" and you will always want to use what is fresh at any given time of year. Also try to develop your intuition: if you "feel like" something, your body may be telling you that's exactly what you need - providing of course that you've managed to tame the dreaded sensuality and greed!

V: A Fruitarian Breakfast

Let's start with breakfast. I mentioned many words ago that a change of attitude and lifestyle is important, and this includes giving proper time and sense of occasion to meals. Why not start with breakfast - many believe that breakfast is your most important meal of the day. You may say you haven't got time for it. "Get up earlier" is the simplistic solution. A deeper response is that we can all find time for those things we consider important. OK so you re-arrange your life. Try it, you may like it!

We get up early. For several reasons. First because we can jog before the crowds come out. Second so we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast and thus an ordered start to the day. Another personal reason is that I'm a slow starter and I have to get going before everybody else so that I'm level with them when we all come on stream. That's how I see it anyway.

We tidy the place up after sleeping, have a preliminary wash, jog a while, then return to a cold bath in summer or a hot-and-cold shower in winter. Then we sit down quietly to a good breakfast, with some relaxing baroque music. After breakfast we sit and read a little, then take a short digestive stroll. Then, and only then, is one ready for the day. If all of this requires us to get up at 5.30am (which it does), then so be it.

Since we're on the subject of routines, I would also mention what in the north of England is known affectionately as "regularity". They're keen on it up there, and rightly so. Most people pay far more attention to what goes into the body, than what comes out. But a regular expulsion of wastes and excesses is vital, and if this is not accorded regular, relaxed and proper attention, the results will be headaches and backaches, and if prolonged, an eventual poisoning of the bloodstream. Whilst on this delicate subject it might also be mentioned that fruit moves quickly through the system, nourishing and cleansing, then passing smoothly and easily on its way. Meat on the other hand can take five days or more to pass through the system, by which time it is, if you'll pardon the expression, putrefied. Not something a body should have inside it.

So. Back to breakfast.

One of our favorite breakfast starters is a citrus-banana "smoothie". For this you must have a goblet-style liquidizer, one with the high jug and blades at the bottom. This recipe is for two people. Choose a good orange, not the large ones but the medium-sized, and make sure it has a nice dark-orange unblemished skin because you're going to use every bit of it! You wash the orange well, but gently with your hands so as not to lose the vital essence which lurks in the very surface of the skin. Then cut it up into fairly small pieces, including peel, pith, everything except the pips (seeds) if there are any. Put the pieces in your liquidizer with a peeled banana roughly broken into several pieces, and about an inch of orange or apple juice at the bottom. (Just to clarify: the orange goes in whole, the banana gets peeled). I always add a squeeze of molasses because it gives a nice taste and is full of minerals and nutrients. Actually, we are very keen on the molasses and recommend a squeeze of it frequently (we decant into a squeezable bottle). I also add a piece of firm tofu (about 2 inches square) if I feel like extra nutrition; that makes it extra smooth and creamy!

Then switch on and whizz it all around. You may have to stop and stir at the beginning to get it started, but eventually it will all whirr into a smooth cream. Pour this into a dish or container then add whatever fruit comes to hand: chopped apple, chopped peeled grapefruit, seedless grapes, also dried stuff if you fancy it such as raisins, chopped dates. Finally a small handful of chopped nuts. Perhaps a little wheat germ too, which is Very Good For You!

You can make your smoothie with oranges, tangerines, lemons or limes. But not, strangely enough, with grapefruit. The grapefruit is a delicious fruit, we peel and chop it into all sorts of dishes and salads. But the outer rind is very strong. In all cases remember, you are using the whole of the citrus fruit except for the seeds. Lemons are a bit tougher than oranges, so for your whizzer's sake cut the lemon up a bit smaller. Limes even more so, but they make a delicious smoothie. I like to add chunks of peeled orange to the lime puree after it is whizzed as a contrast. Always add one banana peeled and roughly broken, a shot of molasses, and enough liquid to make the whole thing whizz. If you do ever need peeled orange segments always choose any oranges you may have with not very attractive outer skins. If you need a peeled orange but only have ones with good skins, grate the skin first and put it in a small container mixed with some honey to preserve it. Then use it in baking or salad dressing or whatever. Just never waste it! As Mum used to say, the skin is where all the good sunshine is!

I make this fruit smoothie the night before, add the fresh chopped fruits as available, put it into a sealable plastic container and refrigerate overnight, though of course you can make it fresh in the morning if you prefer or if you're awake and willing. I don't think there's any nutritional loss overnight; in fact the whole thing "matures" rather nicely and the flavors "get to know one another" as the TV chefs like to say.

A goodly dish of this mix of fruits and nuts will give you all the nutrients you need for a substantial part of the day. But it's nice to have some warm bready substance and a cup of something hot.

I never much cared for the herb teas, but when I started making them stronger and more tasty I enjoyed them more. If you have a shop nearby that sells loose herbs they probably mix tea infusions as well, or can recommend mixes. This is a much cheaper way of making herb tea than buying the boxes of sachets. A little honey goes down well with the tea, but watch the quantity and monitor it carefully. If possible try to avoid sugar, especially white sugar which is usually made from sugar beet or else refined from sugar cane with all the mineral-rich molasses removed. If you must use it get brown sugar made from genuine sugar cane if you can (brown sugar is often white sugar colored with a little molasses). We get supplies of dried fruits and dried flowers and always add a little black tea to give it strength.

As to the breadies, you might try making some fruity soft muffins. The ones we make are so fruity we hardly need anything on them, they're great on their own.

We have our own muffin mix consisting of (soft) cake-and-pastry flour, pancake mix, a little cornmeal, a little wheat or oat bran, and whatever else you fancy. Best to add the baking powder as you use it, but add it to the pre-mix if you're inclined to forget it. You can mix this muffin mix with orange or lemon smoothie made as already directed; you can add chopped banana, or chopped or grated apple, or whole seedless grapes (they come out whole in cooked muffins). Tinned crushed pineapple works well too. Also frozen blueberries or cranberries. Yesterday we got a whole flat (12 one-pound baskets!) of almost-over-ripe strawberries. We made strawberry muffins with the basic flour mix, some butter and corn oil, chopped brazil nuts, chopped strawberries; the liquid was strawberries and banana liquidized in the food processor (strawberries are 90% water!). When came time to put the muffin mix into the individual molds in the muffin tin, I filled half of each space with mix, placed a whole small strawberry in the center, then topped it with more mix. We had them for breakfast this morning and they were mouth-watering!

If you bake a batch of muffins you can freeze them when they're cool. Put them on a Styrofoam tray in a poly bag, fold the bag over, then put that into another bag for double sealing. Take out what you need the night before and leave to defrost at room temperature, in a poly bag to retain the moisture. Heat in the oven in foil, or in the microwave. You can also use a Dutch Oven - a saucepan on the stove top - lid three-quarters on and just a gentle heat for about 5 minutes while you eat your smoothie.

Here is a note on re-heating ex-freezer breadies. If you want to retain moisture and softness of texture (ie soft muffins), wrap them in foil and heat in the oven. You can also microwave them. If you want something crisp and crusty like a bread roll, get the oven very hot (400), skim the rolls quickly, very quickly under the cold tap which is barely running, then put in the hot oven. Microwaves do not crisp things! If you're reheating croissants start with them foil-wrapped to heat right through. Then unwrap, brush the top lightly with cooking oil and place under the grill/broiler - watch carefully or they will crisp... then go black!

If you like what the English call jam and Americans call jelly, try to go for the less sweet varieties. Or you can make your own spread moments before you need it. Try mashing one banana, grating half an apple (place the other half face down in a plastic pot sitting in just a little lemon juice - this can go in the smoothie or the salad tonight); grate the rind of a (washed) orange, add a little (a big teaspoon) of peanut butter, a dessert spoonful of ground nuts and one of thick honey, finally adding two peeled and small-chopped kiwi fruits. It'll make an excellent jam, and all fresh fruit. When I say "ground nuts" by the way... we use the coffee grinder.

For savory muffins, try herbs and sweetcorn and some de-bittered yeast. These are good with salads or the odd winter soup.

You don't need fat in muffins but a little cooking oil makes them softer. I never use eggs. If you do fancy eggs for breakfast in winter, spare a thought for the chickens. Regular supermarket eggs come from chickens who spend their lives in conditions which would make your hair curl. We call them "concentration camps" and that's not far out. Go for the free range eggs, from chickens that run and peck about. You owe it to them.

Waffles and pancakes are good for breakfast too. Mashed banana and chopped nuts make a good spread. Top with a variety of fresh fruit, whatever's available and looks good. Chopped red and green seedless grapes with chopped strawberries perhaps, or chopped peeled oranges and grated apple.

Whether on breakfast smoothie or for a finishing touch on your waffles, crunchy granola cereal makes a good topping. You may also find yourself snacking on it - with raisins and nuts it does make a good snack. But if snacking between meals isn't exactly a no-no, it is a "watch-it..."! Shop for a good granola (usually made of rolled oats, honey and nuts). The loose varieties aren't always cheaper either. Check the contents on the packet to see how prominently sugar appears; check the other ingredients too - you can always tell a "genuine" health product if the ingredients sound - well - healthy.

If you want a savory breakfast try waffles topped with cooked tomatoes and red or green peppers (not the hot kind unless you're a culinary masochist). We often like a savory breakfast on Saturdays. I put some cooking oil into a saucepan the night before, chop the tomatoes and peppers, put them into the pot with seasoning to taste, some soy sauce, and a very small squeeze of molasses (it brings out the inherent sweetness without making it sweet). Let it cook open until soft; the water evaporates and strengthens the flavor. Then turn the heat off, put the lid on, and leave until the morning. Re-heat quickly for your topping. Before reheating you can mix a little vegetarian pasta sauce into it if you like.

I guess if you've had any Mexican food at all the thought of tomatoes and green peppers won't scare you, even for breakfast. If not then I can only say "Give it a try" - it's all fruit remember!

VI: Later in the Day

A useful basic is the spread or dip - or if you make it a little more liquid it becomes a salad dressing.

Avocado mashed with de-bittered yeast, soy sauce, green olive oil and a little peanut butter or your own choice of nuts powdered in the coffee grinder makes a good sandwich filling. Keep tasting as you mix, that way you learn what the different additions do for the mix, and you eventually get the flavor you want. For sandwiches keep the mix fairly dry otherwise it can make messy eating! You can also add a little falafel powder if the mix is too moist; if you do, then let it stand briefly so that the falafel will soften.

This filling can go in a sandwich with sliced tomatoes. Chopped seedless grapes go well too.

Banana and grated apple can also be "savorized" with more or less the same treatment as above. Try in a sandwich with chopped peeled orange.

Or instead of a regular bread sandwich, try the above fillings wrapped in a soft tortilla. Or alternatively as a dip with pocket (pita) bread.

The savorized banana-with-grated-apple made a little thinner makes a good dressing for a Waldorf-type salad. Mix with chopped apple, chopped nuts, and chopped peeled orange segments.

Having spent much time around the Mediterranean we enjoy several different kinds of traditional Mediterranean dishes.

We make our own Arabic hommos this way. Take a whole (=unpeeled) washed small lemon, removing only the seeds. Put half in the goblet as for breakfast smoothie. Store the other half for later. Open a can of chick peas and pour a little of the water plus some of the beans into the goblet. Whizz until smooth. You can now continue in the goblet, but transferring to a regular food processor with blade is easier. To the lemon smoothie add more chick peas, some soy sauce, green olive oil, and a crushed garlic. Process to a smooth, thickish texture. Serve like the Arabs do in a soup dish with a swirl of green olive oil on top. Dip pocket/pita bread. It's a bit rich so don't go overboard. Accompany with a citrus salad.

Actually we have now begun to add fruit to this recipe, as we find it too heavy! Follow the above recipe until you transfer to a food processor, then add finely chopped apple (I use the food processor chopping attachment for that). Then you whizz the chopped apple in with the beans and lemon. This makes it much lighter.

A salad typical in Turkey consists of red beans (buy a can of plain red kidney beans without sauce) with chopped tomato and chopped cucumber. I substitute chopped apple for the cucumber. The chopped apple pieces should be the same size as the beans or slightly smaller. Put some of the water from the beans (keep the rest!) in with the chopped fruit and beans, also some green olive oil and seasoning to taste. A dab of soy sauce too. Preferably make it earlier than needed and leave to rest sealed in the fridge - that way the flavors assimilate and mature.

I have mentioned green olive oil so let me explain this. For anything except baking (get a cheap corn oil for this) you must get the really dark green virgin olive oil (don't be fooled by some oils which are in green bottles!). Avoid the pale varieties which are second or third pressings and use high heat for extraction. The key thing is that the label should read "first, cold pressing". Then you'll get the really good tasty oil which has not had all its goodness destroyed. It has long been known that olive oil doesn't clog the system. Now the nutrition "experts" are saying that olive oil contains an acid which actually works to de-clog clogged systems. But you must get the virgin, cold-pressed variety.

Foccacia is pronounced: fo (rhymes with lock) ca (hard "c", rhymes with pa and ma) chiya (chee-yaa) - fo-ca-chiya with the accent on the central ca. Foccacia is found all along the Med coast from Marseilles to Genoa and maybe a lot farther. There are many different versions, but the essential seems to be that it is a yeast bread about an inch thick, made the normal way except that it has a lot of olive oil in it and ground pepper, maybe herbs too, on the top. Many stores and bakeries offer some form of foccacia bread now. Try cutting it in half horizontally as if to make a sandwich, then spread liberally with olive oil. We sometimes fry it on a cold winter's day; great with salad. You can even use it fried as a base for a fruitarian pizza. Cover with savory fruit mix as already described.

If you want something cooked, pasta can be a pretty enjoyable substance. Put the pasta into boiling water and cook at a good boil (DO NOT cover or it'll all boil over!). Cook until the pasta is what the Italians call "al dente" which means "to the tooth" which in turn means it's biteable but not soggy. For the sauce you can use a pre-cooked mix of "fruits" like tomatoes, peppers and courgettes (baby marrows) cooked in olive oil with or without the final addition of a spoonful of commercial pasta sauce. OR be more adventurous and use raw, finely chopped apple, chopped plums and a chopped avocado, again with commercial pasta sauce added. Before serving the pasta and putting the sauce over it (or in the center as the Italians do) shake a little de-bittered yeast powder over the pasta, then mix well, adding a teaspoon of lemon juice and a dessertspoon of green olive oil. A twist of the pepper mill tops it off (use a 50-50 mix in your pepper mill of black pepper corns and coriander corns).

Do you eat pasta by twizzling it around your fork? Many people think that's the Proper Way to do it. When we lived in San Remo (the one in Northern Italy) we ate pasta in two very nice small restaurants. One is closed now. The other was called the Blue Grotto and is still there. When we first went there in the 60s they had just got a big tv set in the restaurant and all the waiters used to watch so it was very difficult to get service especially during a football match. They made good pasta and like all Italian restaurants except the expensive ones which give themselves "continental" airs, they served pasta in white soup plates and you ate it with a spoon and fork. Most locals chopped up the pasta although occasionally an old die-hard, with bib tucked in, would twizzle and slurp it into his mouth. So the message from Italy would seem to be: chop or slurp, whichever comes easiest! But if you're a good twizzler go right ahead - it impresses your friends and looks very suave.

Polenta is rather a nice substance, also of Italian origin. It's basically cooked yellow corn- or maize-meal (it's quite grainy, and not to be confused with smooth cornflour). The Italians like polenta a lot, and Italian cookery programs will tell grim tales of how the polenta has to be stirred for four hours with a wooden paddle. Well, they can do it like that if they want to. But we don't have to.

I usually do it in advance, in the morning if it's for the evening meal, in the evening if it's for next morning's breakfast. For two people take half (well, say a good half) of a small cup of polenta (maize-meal), add a pinch of salt and put it into the frying pan in which you have previously heated a little olive oil. Add a full cup of water, stir it around a little, bring to the boil, then cover and turn off the heat. My frying pan has a lid that fits; if yours doesn't then you might like to use a large saucepan; but it helps if it's nonstick, and also a frying pan is easier when you have to get the cooked polenta out later.

Then I just leave it. And when the time comes to eat it, ease a flat spatula carefully around the bottom of the now-firm polenta-cake to prize it away (it will have set into a solid pancake, but it might have stuck a bit). Meanwhile I put just a touch of olive oil into my other, larger frying pan, get it nice and hot (not smoking) then I flip the polenta into the second pan to cook the other side. (It will be fully cooked already so this is an option if you want it hot). I hope you got the polenta thoroughly unstuck from your first frypan, otherwise it won't come away cleanly. If you have only one pan, loosen the polenta as I told you, then flip it onto a plate which has been very lightly oiled. From the plate, slide it back into your frypan which you have oiled and buttered and heated.

Heat it for a few minutes on medium heat, then serve.

You can serve it for breakfast with banana-nut butter and marmalade. Or you can serve it with a mix of grated apple, mashed banana and chopped citrus fruit.

Or with a minor variation you can have savory polenta. In the half cup of maize-meal add some garlic granules, mixed herbs, and a little salt. Put this into the frying pan with the heated olive oil, add the water then shake a little soy sauce and some de-bittered Brewer's Yeast over it. Bring it to the boil, switch off the heat, and abandon it as per previous instructions. Reheat as previous instructions, or serve sliced, cold with a salad.

Here's a recipe for a curry fruit salad.

At noon I put 3 quarters of a cup of white rice (Thai Jasmine) and 1 cups water into a saucepan, bring to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover very well with the lid and a couple of folded towels, and leave it to cook itself with the remaining heat. In the evening I fluff up the rice, sprinkle a little lemon, black pepper and a dash of olive oil over it, stirring briefly, then leave to heat on the lowest heat setting. Actually this method of cooking rice is very easy. I also like it served with oil, lemon and black pepper. When I was very young and seasick in the Med between Sicily and Greece (it's a bad area for storms) I couldn't eat anything and felt very sorry for myself. The Greek steward brought some plain white rice served as I have described with lemon, black pepper and a little olive oil, and I found it immediately settling.

For the curry I begin with a little olive oil in my nonstick saucepan. I then add a couple of tablespoons of concentrated tomato paste (important!), and a dessertspoon of curry paste (I use Patek's Kebab Paste which I thin down in the jar with a little olive oil; it gives a nicely flavored curry and lasts ages. If you cannot find this look for an Indian chutney without too much vinegar; that would also do). I also put in the grated rind of a washed orange. Finally I add a few cumin seeds (for that essential curry flavor!) and a teaspoon mixed cooking spice. I mix all that up well, then in goes the fruit. First half an apple grated, and a mashed banana. Then the rest of the apple finely chopped, followed by a tomato, a soft plum, the inside of an orange, and some tofu, all roughly chopped. Chopped seedless grapes too if they're cheap and in season (I always believe things taste better when they're cheap and in season!). Also a little shredded coconut (dried). If it looks too dry for your taste, add a little apple juice. Mix well and just heat gently to warm it and mix the flavors, but do not cook. Serve on or beside the rice, with fried popodums if you want to be really authentic and have a good extractor fan over your cooker.

Curry is a very personal thing, and you have to get used to making it just how you like it. My preference has always been for a Malaysian-style curry which is full of curry flavor, but not particularly hot in the sense of mouth-burning. That's why I don't use the curry powder (which tends to be hot without much flavor); nor do I use the tins of curry paste, because one has to use too much (if you DO use a tin, try Malaysian Mild). I suggest you experiment with the imported condiment products of India, looking as I mentioned at the chutneys rather than curry paste per se. Though I myself found the Kebab Paste very good. Once you have found a product you like, this sort of thing keeps for a long time without refrigeration, and you only need a teaspoonful to give a good flavor to your curry. But don't forget the tomato paste and the mixed spice, which give a good base. And the cumin seeds add that extra, distinctive taste. I usually add raisins and a few chopped nuts too.

VII: Fruitarian Drinks

For refreshing summer drinks, or even as a main breakfast drink on a really hot summer morning, you will need a juice extractor. Shop around - there's quite a wide price range. The very, very expensive ones will probably give you a very clear liquid which we personally prefer to avoid. The cheaper ones work on a centrifugal/filter principle and will turn out medium-thick juice, leaving a pulp with some liquid still left in it. This we put through a strainer - the thicker stuff makes good ice-cream or an excellent fresh-fruit jam. We mix the pulp with a little low-sugar commercial fruit jam (apricot makes a nice neutral mixer) or mashed banana, and spread the result fresh onto muffins and scones. It won't keep long of course, as it is mainly fresh fruit.

Use any juicy fruits (the bready fruits, like bananas, avocados and papayas don't work of course). We remove the big stones as in plums and peaches - this is important, or you'll ruin your juicer. And if you make juice from citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits they should be peeled first. Also remember that some fruits are sweeter than others. In general we find that a mix of two or three different fruits works well. One fun thing is to use watermelon, that red melon with those annoying black seeds in it. You just cut off the thick green skin, cut the red interior into right-size bits to feed in, and let the seeds be filtered out by the machine's normal centrifugal process. The only problem here of course is that you can't use the pulp for jam as it's too seedy. Same really goes for blackberries or other seedy fruit. This is the stuff we strain to make the fresh-fruit jam. One wouldn't think of an apple as being very juicy but surprisingly, it is. An apple with citrus fruit adds a bit of natural sweetening.

Now we often have fresh fruit juice for breakfast in the morning instead of tea or coffee; it's light and refreshing, it doesn't "weigh you down" after, or attack the liver or pancreas or other sensitive areas.

I have already suggested you might see if you have a herb shop within reach so you can buy the herbs loose for your teas. This is much cheaper than using bags.

If you are lucky enough to have a Chinatown nearby ask around for the Herb Store where they sell medicinal herbs (the store owner may well be a Herb Doctor too). You will probably find this store will be a good source for all kinds of Chinese packaged teas made of fruits, flowers and roots. The names probably won't mean much to you. Look on the back and you may well be treated to a dissertation in Chinese-English extolling all the wonderful things this tea will do for you and what it will cure. Even if you take all this "with a pinch of salt" you can be fairly certain that these teas are healthful, and prepared under controlled conditions. We have quite a wide selection, which we drink mostly with a teaspoon of honey and the same of lemon juice.

For example, we quite often have a Chinese digestive tea made of Tienchi Flowers. The tea comes as an instant powder in sachets. It is quite bitter. The lemon juice is also very sharp of course. Strangely, however, when bitter tea and sharp lemon are mixed, the whole tastes very mellow. The honey helps of course. Anyway we enjoy it. And of course it has no "heavy" after-effects; indeed it really does seem to benefit the digestion. Another Chinese herb tea we have regularly with an unpronounceable name came with a fervent assurance from the Herb Doctor that it is "good for cleana bloood!". He's been at it for 30 years since he was fifteen, and his herbal arts go back a thousand years... so who are we to argue.

Another interesting tea possibility is Tamarind - if you can find it. You get blocks of dried tamarind from a Chinese or Indian store, cut a square-inch off, break it up a bit and pour boiling water on it. Preferably make it in a teapot. Stir around a bit to further break it up, then leave covered for at least 5 mins, preferably 10 - the longer you leave it, the more flavor comes out. You'll need honey with it, as it's quite abstergent!

If you want a more substantial drink any time try the basic citrus smoothie with some tofu added before you whizz it. After you have whizzed it to a smooth consistency, you can add more bought apple juice or orange juice then whizz again.

When buying fruit juices by the way, be careful to read the small print. Avoid the "blends" and check for "100% juice". If the contents say "sugar" or any sugary substance, forget it.

We did mention the word "coffee" a moment ago and if your alarm bells started ringing - you may like to know a bit more about caffeine. It is not a beneficial substance to be sure, but you should know that it lurks mainly in the cheaper, wild "robusta" varieties of coffee. The purer "arabicas" contain almost no caffeine at all. The cheapo packaged coffees you buy are almost wholly robusta, and high-roasted too. Buy beans from a good store and make sure they're 100% arabica, then grind your own as you need to.

This text is taken with permission from Anybody with questions should email

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