As I mentioned in a previous blog, Warlock, with its inimitable tagline, “Sometimes the only answer to death is lunch”, is a favourite—and reflecting on this led me to today’s blog topic: what would a perfect lunch look like? Well, wonder no further: this was today’s perfect lunch, one that Olivia and I have consumed with minor seasonal variations year ’round, shown immediately below, and instants before consumption:
What are the components? Serena tuna, Italian style in oil (but more on that below), ripe avocado, pieces of carrot and cucumber, brazil nuts and almonds, fresh ‘living’ basil, Modena balsamic vinegar, Mason’s Creek Extra-virgin olive oil, ground pepper and coarse-ground salt, a clove of fresh garlic per person crushed at the last minute (all healthy foods share at least one characteristic: they want to bond with oxygen at indecent speeds), and the last of the self-seeded, home-grown tomatoes. Mmmmm.
This is what it all looked like, pre the mixing process:
For reasons known only to her, Olivier prefers to reverse the standard salad-building process: in the bottom of the bowl go the plucked and torn leaves of basil, followed by the vegetable pieces, followed by the avocado, the crushed garlic, followed by the tuna (well-drained) and, last of all the tomatoes, all garnished generously with the balsamic vinegar and the E.V. Olio d’oliva. Notes on the O.O. to follow, below—the oil is one of the most important ingredients.
The zestiest fraction of the taste sensation is, without question, the tomatoes, second only to the pungency of fresh, raw garlic. There are only a few items I grow in my garden: dark purple figs (the truly fabulous black genoa variety), the black muscatel variety of grape) and tomatoes. This year’s crop was 100% self-seeded from the previous year; and the species revert to their ancestors in the process, and the result is small, acidy, sweet, flavour explosions. They looked like this when I plucked them an hour or two ago:
And the oil: first, sincere thanks to Malcolm Boulter for drawing our attention to this particular oil and in fact personally carrying many bottles of it to us here in Canberra: grown on the neighbouring property to his in Portarlington, Vic., this is the best-tasting olive oil either of has ever had. And, in Australian, when olive oil is labelled as “extra-virgin”, by law it must be 100% extra-virgin. Of course this term does not refer to the olive trees’ sex lives but rather to the stage in crushing process at which the olive oil is cold extracted. And it must also be noted that this happy state of affairs exists nowhere in Europe when only an admixture of extra-virgin olive oil is sufficient to have the label bear that term. And who can forget the Spanish olive oil disaster of 1981? Ah: food labelling laws and human greed!
Notice how much fat-bearing food there is in this meal: in addition to the olive oil there is avocado, Brazil nuts and almonds, in addition to that is contained in the tuna. I drain at the tuna always because one cannot know what olive oil is packed in to the tuna, nor does one really know what grade it is.
I mention this aspect of what makes a good lunch because when I last had my fasting blood levels measured the ratio of HDLs to LDLs was 1:1. According to her, the ‘gold standard’ is 1:3 (HDL:LDL). My doctor was amazed at the ratio shown in the blood results, and asked me how I did it. “A diet high in fats, in particular unprocessed vegetable oils, and lowish in carbohydrates” was my answer. She said that although my cholesterol levels were bordering on high, she had no doubt that the protective benefits of having such high HDL levels far outweighed any of the alleged disadvantages of having relatively high cholesterol levels. I have little doubt that pre-agricultural humans had similar HDL/LDL levels in their bloodstream.
Anyhow, the end result of this lunch is an absolute taste sensation, where every mouthful has an incredible mixture of textures, flavour, good substances and all-round good feelings in its consumption.