“Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices - just recognize them.” Edward R. Murrow
I'm feeling a bit lazy again today - the result of too much wining and dining with friends last night - so I thought I would revisit my long list of websites whose titles piqued my interest. And as a result I found myself reacting, somewhat unfavourably to both of the above - partly for similar reasons and partly not, which made me reflect on my personal prejudices and to ask myself was I being fair? After all, who am I to criticise (and I will) their efforts. For they both seemed to have had, indeed still have in the case of one of them, many more readers than I. Which must surely be some measure of success. And not one I am particularly striving for - my effort is purely to entertain myself and give myself a small sense of achievement every day.
The first site is called An Empty Stomach is the Best Cook which I thought was a whimsical and unpreachy title. However, when I found it I was confronted with a number of disappointments. First of all it appears to be dead - in that the last post was dated January 2014. It was started in 2007, so they kept it up for 7 years I guess. Yet again, there was no farewell, so I hope they didn't drop dead or something. You would think would you not that if you were closing down you would say so?
When you try to find out more about the author you don't get a lot - no picture and not a real name - Adrestai. Almost incidentally you learn that the author is gluten, soy and dairy intolerant, and by the end of her (I am assuming a her) blog was mostly eating a Paleo diet - the diet that has been much hyped by the disgraced Pete Evans here in Australia. And this is an Australian website - the author is from Brisbane. Paleo really turned me off though. I think I have written about that too - the nutritionists are not that keen on a Paleo diet because there are no legumes or grains, but I believe that ultimately the jury is still out.
I dipped into the posts and checked out a category called Random from which I learnt a little more about the author:
"I long to be creative, but I've never been the person who's good at drawing or making things look pretty or even developing or creating something myself, so food is a wonderful way for me to be creative or make something within the structure of a recipe. Food Paint-By-Numbers. I love paint-by-numbers. It probably speaks to my control freak perfectionist side too, because you can control the outcome by the way you follow the recipe." Adrestai
Which is pretty much me really. I confess I don't do paint-by-numbers, but occasionally I do do a bit of colouring in. I find it oddly soothing.
This website is indeed an amateur one - there are no ads flashing at you all the time, which is great. That said, in several of the restaurant reviews - there are a lot of them - she talks about having been invited there as if the owner thought it valuable that she critique the place.
Initially however, I was put off by the very narrow window in which the text appeared, and I wasn't particularly enthralled by the food, or the restaurant reviews - well it's Brisabane - but then I'm feeling very sleepy and therefore less enthusiastic than normal. And all those food intolerances and the Paleo thing rubbed up against prejudices that I really should not admit to. So I decided to ignore it and turned to the second on my list.
Which was a site called Have Butter Will Travel - which, as I said, was at least a different title, and suggested a light-hearted look at food and travel. So I was somewhat taken aback to discover it was a site which is largely about the keto diet.
The lesbian couple who run this site are Dan and Erika, shown here on one of their overseas trips. They both had pretty severe weight problems and had tried various diets to no avail. Then in 2016 they tried the keto diet - with great success, and they have both written fairly long articles on their individual struggles. You have to admire their determination and the fact that they lost 40kg and 50kg of weight respectively. That's a lot, and having myself lost a mere 15kg and found it difficult, I have nothing but admiration.
However - keto. And this is where another of my innate prejudices comes in. For the general opinion amongst the dietary expert community is that the keto diet is dangerous. I wrote about it long ago. Because fundamentally it is founded on eating fat rather than carbohydrates and sugars. And hence, I suppose, the title of the website, which they began in 2017 to spread the word and to help others with their struggle with obesity. For it was true obesity they were struggling with.
I was also marginally annoyed by the fact that the title logo was cut off at the top and the bottom - the bottom being words which were presumably important - I think they are low carb - travel - life, and the top being drawings of kitchen tools. There is something wrong with the editing there. Which, of course, might be the fault of WordPress - I really don't like WordPress having tried it myself - admittedly a long time ago. And this is a commercial site - lots of ads flashing at you on the side and in between blocks of text. So very annoying. They do 'talk' a bit as they present their recipes though, which is a plus. Some websites have no 'talk' at all - just recipes.
However, I was so turned off by the keto thing, that at first I decided to ignore this site too. But then I thought, why not combine the two into one post and explore my diffidence - nay prejudice - a little. Is Pascal right?
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” Blaise Pascal - De l'art de persuader
I dared to ask myself for example whether I was put off by the couple of Have Butter Will Travel being lesbian, and initially very overweight. I fear ever so slightly perhaps, but this does not make me happy, because the pair of them have worked phenomenally hard to lose all those kilograms and to keep them off. The site is also very full of advice on how to do the keto thing. Almost exclusively in fact. They may well be misguided but the intention is to show others that losing a huge amount of weight is indeed possible. They want to spread the word and help others. The travel section is more about how to travel being on a keto diet, than much about the places. And the recipes, of course are all keto.
So the upshot is that I'm not one of Albert Einstein's select few:
"Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds." Albert Einstein
I was disappointed, and shouldn't have been.