Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Murderer and the Courgettes

Day 23

Then: 15 stone 5 pounds (215 lbs)
Now: 14 stone 5 pounds (201 lbs)

Last night Jo said “You know, you’re really quite a thin man; I’d always thought you were big boned -- now it’s obvious you’re not. You look like Ben (my lithe, handsome 29 year old son).”

I think it was a compliment. The fact is that since I started this diet three weeks ago to the day, my chin has reappeared and my belly, those friendly layers of cuddly pillow, have receded by more than half. My jeans are loose – threatening to become too loose – and my confidence in my own looks has grown considerably. Sure, I’m still a 58-year-old grey haired oldie, but I’m standing taller, I’m no longer breathless and I can now easily raise my legs to hurdle the childproof gate obstacle course scattered all around the house.

This morning’s weigh-in was particularly impressive because the new, patent YuKan diet (which, regular readers will note, I’m making up as I go along) allows three small new potatoes every two or three days. The potatoes have to be self-grown, of course, together with the salad. Well, at 201 pounds, I now weigh less than I did when I first met Jo in 2003. It's also, for English readers, a whole stone less than I was three weeks ago. It also means I have just six pounds to go to my own target of 195 pounds, and just another stone (note how I describe this absurd mountain as if it's just a small incline - "just", indeed!) to my perfect, officially Dukan-approved, weight.

We tried the courgettes last night. Well, I had courgettes, Jo claims she had zucchini – she still hasn’t got used to our English terms. They’re still tiny, about four inches long, but sautéed (yes, sautéed, in a diet – who’d have thought it?) with a little olive oil, some mint, garlic slivers, dried chilli, finished with lemon zest, they are little crisp pieces of Italian heaven. I would have added a couple of anchovies, but we’d run out of that essential Italian flavouring and I couldn’t be bothered to open a fresh tube of anchovy paste for such tiny specimens.

My five courgette plants will provide us with five courgettes every day for the next two months. We had them with a slab of organic salmon, cooked to keep moist: that is, you score the skin (I always buy fish with the skin on), fill the scoring with sea salt, brush with oil and pepper and fry in a hot pan, skin side down without touching it, for around 3 minutes until the skin is crisp and brown. Flip it over, season, and pop it in a hot oven for another couple of minutes. The result: moist and pink in the middle, with crispy skin – perfection every time. And a mountain of salad straight from the garden, with weird yoghurty dressing. For the first time, I think I’m rather enjoying this diet.

No sign of the murderer, and we’re now locking all the doors the whole time. All our neighbours are nervous, which makes us even more so. Husbands are staying home from work, and women aren't going out alone at night.

Apparently today police found signs of him in a village quite close to ours. They also published a new photograph of him, taken a couple of days ago in a store where yesterday I bought some paint.

The police say it shows that he’s lost weight. I wonder if he was on the Dukan diet? If so, he’d have to start killing sheep out there on the hills above our house: there’s precious little other protein to eat, and the nearest fat-free yoghurt is ten miles away in Waitrose. Yesterday he broke into a house and stole food – he even used the microwave. Well there's nothing microwaveable here apart from baby milk. But he would find some lovely little poussin ready for tomorrow night. You need to roast them for around 45 minutes: I doubt he’ll hang around that long. But we do have plenty of vanilla yoghurt if he's really desperate.

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