When I read Herald food writer Pamela Hasterok’s article on fat in September www.durangoherald.com/article/20130917/LIFESTYLE02/130919569/, I could really relate.
She talked about how a generation ago, the predominant dietary thinking was that fat was the root of all evil. I remember being at my job during that era listening to two young women about my age coo over a brand of chocolate cookie that was sooo delicious -- and had no fat! Looking back, the cookies were surely loaded with sugar, but sugar was no biggie. Fat was evil. But my thinking on that was to be radically changed when I spent a year in Spain working as an au pair (fancy word for nanny).
When I arrived to my assigned family in Alicante, Spain, situated right on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, I was initially appalled at the amount of oil in their diet. When I was served a salad, it was swimming in olive oil with a little splash of vinegar. Sautéed veggies swam in deep pools of it. Everything, it seems, required a thorough olive oil drenching before being permitted access to the dinner plate. Great, I thought, I’m going to be one of those girls who goes abroad and comes back 20 pounds heavier from indulging in the local fare.
But then I looked around. There were NO obese people. In fact, all the women my age were enviously thin. And they ate. Spaniards where I was typically ate breakfast, “la comida” around mid-afternoon, and a light dinner around nine.
The family I lived with was intent on re-educating me on a proper diet. They talked about how consuming a wide variety of fruits and vegetables with a little bit of fish or meat was key. Habitants of that sunny, temperate area had the advantage of having access to farm-fresh produce and fresh seafood all year. I never tasted fruit as good as I did there.
By the time I left, I was a believer. In the years since, science and popular thinking has come around to what they were telling me. Recently NPR reported on a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine that found that women who followed a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fish, nuts, vegetables and fruit were less likely to develop chronic diseases and memory or physical problems in old age than women who didn’t.
To this I say, “buen provecho.”