Way, way back at the beginning of this century, in 2000, some years before Thatcher finally died but also before the rise of the Brexit fascists, so almost halcyon times indeed, along with some local friends from Deal — making up part of a larger group — I walked through the Sahara over a distance of about 120k. taking about 9 days, to help raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Relief (now Support). An organisation close to me as I worked there for some years as their IT Manager but also because my family tends to die young from cancer related issues — if they don’t lose the plot through dementia that is … — so was more than a little appreciative of their work, then and now. I’d encourage you to donate to them if you can.
It was however a fun, strangely innocent episode, and we managed to raise approx. £5,000 for this walk for them, so that’s good.
And what reminded me of this time?
I’m reading a book by Andrew Coe called “Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States” and came across this passage…
and gathered at the table for three meals a day of western food and drink. This was an incredible act of communal will, because the Chinese city was never more than a stone’s throw away and sometimes just outside their windows. They must have smelled the aromas from Chinese kitchens wafting over from Chinese houses. They could not have missed the “long line of victualing stands, furnished with fruits, cakes, sweetmeats, soups, and such like” in the narrow streets that formed the border between the factory compound and the greater city.
…where the British, the Americans, the Dutch and all the other Western nations, kept tight in their separate little mercantile enclave, isolated from the rest of the Chinese mainland and the main population, chose not to eat anything other than familiar “home” dishes, albeit ones cooked by the ubiquitous Chinese servants.
This refusal to dive in and take advantage of new tastes, flavours & ingredients was kind of understandable in the late 18th Century. In the 21st? Not so much. But humans continue to surprise me.
One of the other walkers, a young Northern lad existed solely on Pot Noodles. For 9 days. Every meal. Every, single fucking meal. Thats’s pretty much all he had brought with him in his rucksack. We were well looked after, the Bedouin guides cooked amazing evening meals for us everyday. Pretty fabulous food to be honest, despite the fact that, as it was all carried with us, not all of it stayed as fresh as on Day One and the bread especially became more than a little chewy towards the end. But lovely, lovely Moroccan food.
And he, he chose to stick with Pot Noodles. None of that “foreign muck” passed his lips. I felt sorry for him and his unwillingness to try anything different. But his loss, our gain, so that’s good as well… I can’t recall his name. It may well have been Keith.