2018: A Year In Food
In 2018, my gym coach assigned me to keep a food blog so he could track my meals. Through developing healthy eating habits to satisfy all of my nutritional needs and a rigorous exercise programme, I lost the 21 kg between January-August 2018 I'd gained on anti-depressants.
I wanted it to be somewhere more private rather than being shoved down people's throats (literally) through Instagram/WhatsApp. Hence I've posted my culinary creations here.
Being vegetarian and/or vegan always presents a challenge in terms of hitting the protein target so this was particularly the most interesting challenge for me.
I made a conscious decision to stop food blogging in 2019 (due to time restraints), but it's useful to have a year's diet documented as a reference and a source of inspiration!
A very dark and haunting short story inspired by a dream that I had as a child...
He walked through the streets of Paletin in the scorching sun. The buildings were smudged into blurry browns, pinks and sandy yellows through his sweaty tears. He had been stowing the sack of provisions for the Emperor for what seemed like miles in that hot sandy desert, he could only think of his destination. Tapestries and a mixture of other worldly goods were being sold outside the long line of dusty bars. A lonesome snake charmer was muttering in one corner of an alleyway that reeked of disease and poverty. An ancient woman dressed in filthy rags passed me as she scratched strange and frantic signs into the hard sand. The boy had long stripped off his only shirt in the sweltering heat and wiped his sweaty forehead with his shirt. The sun raged at an unbearable heat but there was a dusty breeze, which tugged and scuttled down by his bare feet. Loaded camels plodded by children who ran around, careless and naked in the hard, dirty streets.
As the boy was caught up in his curiosity, he was startled to find a hot bony hand rest upon his shoulder. ‘Kava Marci de Rachto! Foyer din nanas geisha sod Ulna firs,’ said a harsh, deep voice. The boy found himself peering at a withered, old man with deep-set lines streaked across his face. The man’s eyes were so deep and terrifying that the teenager drew back, His hair trailed with length down his back, ragged, uncut and splashed with grey, like the mane of a dappled horse.
But threatening signs told the boy to obey. He followed the man down some steps and through a grand, heavy oak door, with large tarnished gold handles. The man bowed him inside and shit the door behind the youth. He was trapped.
The room stretched a long way underground. There were a hundred gold chandeliers on the low ceiling and millions of jewels hung glittering from each stem. Voices rang throughout the area but no person appeared to be there. It was dreamlike and ethereal. Light areas and dark areas lay about like feathers and clouds seemed to float just off the ceiling.
Gold pillars stretched like oceans apart but stood fast under the weight of the tunnel, He passed through a room that seemed to swim towards him and disappear behind his ears. Then paintings appeared which showed images of shadowy roods in rich golds and red and pools of boiling lava against the black of the rocks.
The collection of rooms seemed to last forever until he finally got to a wide, sweeping flight of toffee coloured steps. He began to climb. A while later, he ascended onto a veranda of dazzling white stone.
Up here it was cooler than the stuffy rooms below and there were decorative lines of seashells along the walls. Thin pillars stretched upwards from the edge, and in the middle of the floor was a sprawling double bed with a white duvet. A pale fish sculpture was positioned right in front of the bed, which was of matching colour.
Could this be the emperor’s headquarters? After all, he hadn’t received any details of what the place was like. Looking down he saw the sea, with a beach and swimming pool. Many people splashed and played down there, in the scene about a hundred miles away.
The negative sister and the positive sister were in the meadows. The negative sister was called Koriana who was the loudest of the two but the king and queen of their green and prosperous land, their mother and father, loved the positive sister most of all who was called Sarah. Koriana had long black hair and a blue dress. The positive sister had long blonde hair and a red dress. It was an evening and the Lion King sisters were allowed outside to explore the meadows within their boundaries and had to be back before nightfall. They took the cart-train that ran along a wooden rail. This wooden rail ran from the small palace, across the many rolling hills to an area ten minutes ride away.
The cart slid over a decorative tree stump with many branches adjoining it, like a group of hands reaching up to the sky. Those hands or branches held balls of light. A while later, the sisters reached their destination. A patch of grass was surrounded by a shallow bowl of hills.
Koriana and Sarah had just been seated on the old iron bench when there was a scuffle coming from a hole nearby. Koriana stood and looked into the hole. There seemed to be a hedgehog or something closely resembling one, tucked in the hole. To their amazement, it spoke.
‘Koriana and Sarah, follow me...’
‘Mumsie told us never to follow any stranger, it might be dangerous,’ warned Sarah.
Koriana ignored her sister and crouched down. She could just fit in the hole, (it looked small because it was hidden by thick grass) and she slipped into it.
Sarah looked crestfallen and followed her. It was clear that she didn’t like the idea of doing this. The sisters followed it through a tunnel into a large room, furnished with huge, grand lilac sofas and armchairs. A large paneled window was on the far side that looked over a huge lava fall, dropping about twenty feet and flowing into a lake of boiling magma. The ‘thing’ addressed them.
‘One of you is capable to overcome the flow. Whichever of you survives will receive many riches. You will get all the gold and silver you wish for, you hear me?’
‘We musn’t’ started Koriana but the skarrp just shook his shaggy head.
‘No girls, it is time for me to decide what happens here. I have waited about a hundred years and more for this hour. Tonight you will see who is really positive. You will do it.’ He laughed an evil, manic laugh that screeched and rattled through the room.
Koriana and Sarah sat on the cold floor of their cell, chained and gagged. Koriana groaned loudly. Sarah checked her timepiece.
‘Ten minutes to midnight,’ said Sarah, though she was very muffled through her gag.
Sarah recalled, around five hours ago, they had been taken down to the dungeon and hurled in there. She recalled the dark twisting tunnels they had to walk through, at knifepoint. She recalled...
A faint whispering that was now sounding through the cell. At first she thought she’d imagined it, but she saw Koriana suddenly glance around.
The cell door clanked open and nine guards stood there, their faces invisible by hard steel masks. Koriana and Sarah were thrusted into a standing position and were lead again through the dark twisting tunnels.
At last they came on to a balcony, which overlooked the lava flow that dropped in a solid curtain about twenty feet down. Sarah realised they were just to the right of the large window. A plank of wood rested on the edge of the brick balcony. The guards ordered Sarah onto the plank. When Koriana came onto the plank, it wobbled dangerously. The guards pushed the sisters off. There was a moment of sheer terror and the sisters fell. Sarah grasped onto the nearest rock jutting out from the side of the flow and Koriana fell lower but grabbed a rock just below Sarah.
Gasping with relief, Sarah lay against the rocks, carefully backing away from the splashes of lava fizzing out of the flow to her right but to her horror, something was pulling on her dress. Looking down, she saw Koriana clutching her dress and pulling her down. She leant down and thrashed at Koriana who nearly fell but just regained her balance. Sarah jumped over onto the window ledge. She was leaning against the glass when the skaarb pressed a button. An electrical charge came through the glass via some carefully positioned wires. Koriana had an idea; she jumped over to Sarah and pressed her against the glass. Despite the heavy voltage going through her, Sarah rubbed the heel of her shoe against Koriana’s legs. Koriana bellowed and yelled loudly while Sarah panted and gasped. Sarah mustered up all her remaining strength and pushed Koriana over the edge. Koriana grabbed hold of the edge. Sarah moved away from the window while Koriana jumped towards the flow. She began to climb up the rocks on the side. Sarah watched, horrified. Koriana turned round and lunged at Sarah. The girls fell off the edge. They grasped the rocks, terrified.
They moved around, Koriana starting to attack, while holding on for dear life. Sarah defended herself. Sarah’s hand slipped over Koriana’s as she began to ease it off.
‘May the river and sea preserve me!’ screeched Koriana.
They shook and fell down a little way, Koriana in front with Sarah’s back against the rock. Sarah pushed at her, but Koriana bumped her to the side.‘May the seasons preserve me!’ cried Sarah.
But at that last word, Koriana lost her grip and fell down. She grabbed onto Sarah’s dress as Sarah watched, thunderstruck. As the last bell of midnight sounded, somewhere above them, Koriana’s hands slipped from the effort and she tumbled into the great cauldron of infernal hell.
Her scream was cut short as she landed in the molten rock below.
Once again, it was evening and the sun was setting behind a purple sky. It was exactly twenty years since the fall and Sarah stood over the hole. She was older now, around forty and much wiser.
She wore a long green dress and a green bonnet and was with her mother and father in the meadows where her sister had last seen the daylight. Her head was bowed as she remembered her sister’s best times and prayed silently for her. Silence reined that while.
She remembered how she climbed up the flow and found the room deserted. One of the panes in the window had been shattered. She had found her way back through the tunnels to the surface. She had found a book, which was now stowed away in a box in her room, about stealing priceless treasure from the underground chambers of Paletin. Now she realised the evil skaarb had killed himself by throwing himself out the window and cracking the rocks at the bottom. His soul and body must still be deep in the rocks, now that the magma had changed to water.
She sighed, realising that her parents were waiting for her. Once again she pictured the endless journey through the tunnels among the nine mysterious guards in the grey and hazy underworld.
Sarah walked back to the cart and travelled back to her parent’s home, over the rolling fields and down over the branches with the lamps. At the house, her father went into the house, and she followed. Her mother, a tiny woman with curly hair followed, adjusting her dress. Once in, she turned on the light and sat.
The man stood with Sarah on the veranda, now their home in Paletin. They had been married for twenty years but never had a child. They were happy together as the man told him about his duties to the emperor.
‘...And I came up here, and I jumped off the edge...’
‘Whatever were you thinking, Carlo?’
‘I don’t know. I just had a mad urge to swim in the pool down there, of course I was badly injured that day and had to go to hospital.’
‘You sure surprise me.’
‘Sarah, I’m much better than I was then.’
‘I know, so am I.’
To unlock a secret, hidden world, visit: www.lorallian.co.uk
Rory spent the first few years of his life in an ice cave, carving out his palace of wonder. He's a bit of a love doll, but he who melts the ice shall have their reward.