Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Day Three - Live Below The Line

So. Last night was not good.

I went to a friend's album launch. There was a group of us there, good friends of mine. The gig was amazing (they're called Clock Opera, check them out) and it was lovely to see all my mates. Everyone is very supportive and curious about my Live Below The Line challenge. There was lots of chat about the 'rules' of Live Below The Line, i.e. if someone gives you something to eat without you asking for it, does that break the rules? They didn't want to see me missing out on the fun, having to watch everyone else getting merry while sipping on tap water. One of my friends 'accidentally' bought an extra pint of lager and gave it to me, and I happily accepted. I knew it was cheating. I drank it anyway. 

About half way through the gig I started to feel sick. Really sick. I had to stumble through the packed crowd to find a toilet where I promptly threw up. I watched most of the rest of the gig from the back of the room but then felt so dizzy and weird I just had to split. 

Coincidence? Yes. I'm not suggesting that my body, knowing that it was only supposed to be drinking water, rejected the rule-breaking pint of beer. No. I think that I probably I hadn't had enough calories that day, it was hot and sweaty, the beer hit my quite empty stomach and...yuck. Or maybe I had a little stomach bug. 


This wasn't the only slip-up. 

On the way to the gig I had a very sore throat and nipped into a newsagents to buy some cough sweets. I walked out with my 79p lozenges it it me that I had just spent nearly my whole day's budget. Without even thinking. I felt terrible and stupid. It made me think hard. I can get medicine for any simple illness, cough sweets for a sore throat, paracetamol for a headache, antiseptic and plasters when I cut my finger, and this doesn't effect my weekly food budget. I don't have to go hungry for a day so that I can get simple treatment, let alone if I were seriously ill. That means that, globally, I am one of the lucky ones. Damn lucky.  

I guess that's the main thing I've been thinking since starting this challenge. That I am lucky. There are so many tiny things that I take for granted. Cough sweets. My spice rack. Meat. My lovely cooking oils. Shellfish. Exotic, expensive, imported, out of season fruit and veg. My treat cupboard, with dark chocolate and meringues and sachets of angel delight. Yes. Damn lucky. 

Enough about yesterday. On to today.

I woke up with a hangover, which is impossible after only one pint of beer, but boy did I feel rough. Taking the advice of some of my followers, I wanted to get a little more protein into my day so I 'bought' about an inch of chorizo (the only meat I had) from my fridge. As it was bog-standard chorizo that cost £2.25 and it was about 10 inches long, I estimate the inch at about 25p. The lunch that I made with this was the tastiest thing I've eaten all week so far (recipe below) and in the evening I was feeling too tired to rustle anything else up so turned the leftovers into a quick soup. I should have cooked up some cabbage to go in it because I haven't had much in the way of vitamin-y greenery today but I didn't have the energy. You see the irony in that, right?

Anyway, here's what I ate today.

Breakfast: Plain porridge, an orange, hot water with lemon.

Lunch: Rice with chickpeas cooked with chorizo, broccoli and garlic. (this is the first meal I've made so far that actually tasted rather good, so the recipe is below)

Dinner: Soup made from leftover chickpeas from lunch and some chicken stock.

Now I'm home, in bed, writing this. This evening I went to a discussion group but had to leave halfway through because I just wasn't feeling good - I felt dizzy and tired - I just wasn't much use. My brain just wasn't working, my limbs felt heavy and my head was throbbing. Maybe I'm a bit ill. Or maybe I'm not getting enough help from the food I'm eating to keep my body and brain working at full capacity.

I feel bad about the chorizo. Cheater. Strictly speaking I'm out of money now. But, darn it, even just a little bit of meat makes dishes so much more tasty. All it took was this much:

Chickpeas with Chorizo and Broccoli in Garlic and Lemon

Large tin of chickpeas, drained
Half an onion
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
An inch of chorizo, finely chopped
Broccoli, cut into small florets
Zest of one lemon and half it's juice

Sweat the onions down with the garlic. Add broccoli and saute until just tender. Add chorizo and cook for a minute or two so it releases it's reddish oil into the pan. Add lemon zest, juice and chickpeas and cook until heated through. Season to taste. I chucked in some chilli flakes too.

It's ever so simple but really quite delicious - fragrant and lemony. Would be great with a big handful of flat leaf parsley thrown on.



  1. Yeah, meat is a wonderful thing when you can afford it. I'm hoping this week to get some.

    Sorry you were ill. And i don't think it's cheating if someone gives you things :) It happens in real life!

    Good point about medicines vrs. food. This is a constant worry in my home. Family member can't go without meds, so sometimes its meds over food.

  2. Your food photos are amazing. Well done on highlighting this fantastic cause.

    It's not the end of the world to cheat, it fact it raises MORE awareness, your food versus medicine for example and the fact that we CAN just go to our fridges and cheat if we really have to.

    If we were truly living below the line we couldn't do any of these things, so anything we do, whether it's do it well or cheat each and every day, highlights exactly what we are hoping to highlight, extreme poverty.

    You're doing well, be proud of yourself. You could be feeling dizzy if you are drinking TOO much water. Monitor it carefully.

    Sue xx

  3. I like your simple recipes and your wonderful food photos :) "Chickpeas with Chorizo and Broccoli in Garlic and Lemon" sounds very interesting and looks delicate! I imagine it tastes awesome, so I'll try this one too!