After the indulgences of Bali, I was happy to return to the raw vegan sensibility - fresh, ripe, organic fruit and vegies, sprouts, seeds and occasional nuts. Simple, grain free, unprocessed, with nil by mouth other than herbal tea after sunset (which is 5.45pm here at 11 degrees south). The exceptions to our raw diet are a small amount of tempeh (an Indonesian delicacy made by fermenting soya beans), steamed sweet potato and dry grilled eggplant.
Aquaman strung together an impressive 25 days caffeine free, whereas I crumbled after nine - my longest stint totally caffeine free (with not even green tea) for at least ten years. I was shocked by the mental space hijacked with thoughts of coffee, the internal struggle to stay away from the bean and leaf, and the feelings of deprivation as I drank another rooibos. Giving up yoghurt and cheese was much easier. It was pathetic, annoying and I was napping like a wombat. Behold the power of a single shot. Lord knows how I’d react to anything stronger, or if I had a three-cups-a-day habit.
We are fortunate to have some foodie friends that aren’t afraid to have vegans at the table, and this week has been a culinary sensation of epic proportions. Firstly, a lunch next door with our newest neighbours, a Moroccan/Israeli living in Bali and his Italian friend. Cue falafel with tahini dressing, the most hummus ever to be served on the island, mixed salads, toasted rye bread, grilled eggplant with chilli, and floods of olive oil. All served beneath a shady coconut leaf cabana with a white sand floor.
After 24 hours to recover from the surfeit of garlic, we attended the annual Lodge afternoon tea, with its much anticipated menu of Balinese black rice pudding with coconut milk and banana, hot donuts and tea. Yes I said donuts. As in “I want to wash myself with a sponge on a stick” kind of calories. It is my one deliberate fried food item of the year, and I ate it with as much mindfulness as I could muster among the animated conversation.
We had a 48 hour sabbatical after the donuts and before the third invitation; a glorious raw meal with our friends Colin and Linda. Despite an unexpected break in power supply, Linda came through with her promise of banana and pistachio “semi-freddo”; the exclamation mark to a poetic stanza of ingredients.
Back in the days of no refrigeration and smoky pots of rice cooked over an open fire, I couldn’t imagine ever seeing a pinenut or mizuna leaf in this environment. A splash of balsamic vinegar at someone’s house was a luxury to be savored for weeks. Now we have rocket and fancy lettuce, miso, walnuts, dates and Lindt chocolate. They are all still carefully rationed, but I am grateful for their mere existence and the generosity of friends who share their supplies.