A tasty meal is like the hunt for Red October. I just have to keep going with the drive to hit that sweet, or in my case, that hot spot. Not everyone shares my ambition but I keep going, undeterred by the disappointment of having no taste buds and little saliva left.

“That is the hottest chilli you will ever have. You just need to shave a tiny bit off and that will do you,” said the log man as he handed over Jamaican Bonnet. I couldn’t help but wonder if his booming voice was born of too many chillies. He is the loudest person I know.
“Wonderful,” I said, gripping the bag.
“Good girl,” he said and headed off towards his wheelbarrow.

One good turn deserves another, so before I went to chemo, I knocked up a cheeky little soup, made out of leftovers, with just a tad of chilli, a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, a hint of ginger and a mini amount of garlic. I thought I was rather modest in my ambitions, but not only did I outstrip my own expectations, I stripped out the lining of my lucky recipient’s mouth, oesophagus and stomach.

I don’t know why some people pick at their food. I’m full of steroids, which is like being in training for Fight Club. I’m always hungry and always casting about for things to do or eat, or a sparring partner at three in the morning when everyone else is asleep. That is everyone but toddlers, who are hopeless at having meaningful conversation, when they are busy fighting their own battles with sprouting teeth.

While I wolfed down the said soup, my chum took mouse sized mouthfuls until she declared she could not eat any more. “Are you feeling alright?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said. “It’s not that.”
“Don’t you like it?”
“It’s a bit on the hot side.”

Now that I come to reflect on it, a tad of chilli, a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, a hint of ginger and a mini amount of garlic are subjective measures. I could just have easily said, a quarter of a Jamaican Bonnet, a fistful of salt, although I tried my best not to over salt as I don’t want to silt up my veins, a teaspoon of cayenne, a root of ginger and a bulb of garlic. Apparently, this is too much. What is wrong with people?

It’s a good job I don’t have a sweet tooth because processed sugar is discouraged. It feeds my middle-aged fat cells, stimulates my hormones and works in direct opposition to my avowed ambition to kill the “you know what”. That said, I wonder why it is that every time I go for chemo I’m offered a biscuit in a plastic wrapper. I’m using the term loosely here. That’s the biscuit not the plastic wrapper. While it might give a passing nod at wheat, there is nothing else in that biscuit that resembles food. About the only thing it has going for it is preservatives, which I might yet need to fall back on if all else fails.

I wonder why it is that when sugar becomes the enemy it’s so freely offered by those who preach no sugar. “It’s because that’s all we have to offer,” said the nurse.

I’d happily rustle up a vegetable curry with just a tad of chilli, a pinch of salt , a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, a hint of ginger and a mini amount of garlic for those of us who spend Thursdays plugged in to a drip. I bet none of them would pick at their food.

Written: Friday 16th December 2022