Written by Harriet Dyer

Voices

The Life Palavers of Harriet Dyer: Food and I

Harriet Dyer was a human catastrophe: drugs, drink and institutions. She’s back on her feet and has some life lessons to share. This week she’s serving some grubby thoughts.

food

I always get frustrated when I’m asked what my favourite food is because while everyone else seems to smugly know quick-smart what they like to eat best, I never know what to say.

If someone asks what my last meal would be if I had one day left on Earth, I’ll be jiggered – that’s even worse! Usually I just panic and say, “Roast dinner” because that’s obviously the ultimate feel good on-the-plate action.

This panicky response has a long history. When, as a kid, my mum said I could choose any food my little heart desired for one of my birthday parties, I chose a full roast. My friends looked ever so confused as the Ghostbusters party plates struggled to contain the gravy as it was sloshed all over the meat and potatoes.

Although a roast is undoubtedly a treat I still feel like I haven’t tasted my favourite food yet. There’s so much out there that seems so delicious. Whenever I watch street food programmes or Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives I sit there salivating and wish I could reach in and munch it all.  I don’t know why I do it to myself. It’s always late after a gig when I tune in so I end up just feeling sad that I won’t be able to rustle any of that up before going to bed hungry. Rubbish times.

Because I don’t have a holiday planned any time soon I’ve made it my mission to sample food from all over the world in an affordable fashion via the food market in Manchester. I haven’t been disappointed so far.

Next on my list is the Vietnamese street food stall, followed by the Lebanese one.

I once sampled Lebanese food in a rather ropey takeaway. My dish had something dead resting on top of it – I’m still convinced it was a slug – so I feel that might not be the best experience to base an opinion on. I’m looking forward to giving it another chance and wiping that particular memory from my upstairs larder cupboard.

Just as people who are overweight could potentially have a problem, people who are underweight also can – without it automatically having to be bulimia or anorexia.

I love eating but like a lot of people when I get stressed my appetite is affected. Food feels like it’s stuck in my throat: if it does manage to shimmy on down then there’s a knot in my stomach waiting to meet it so it cavorts back up again. Nice.

When this happens people always assume I don’t want to eat so I can remain thin but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I always keep trying until I can manage something.

For some reason if I eat with people I trust I’m usually fine; also living with someone really helps. It’s hard to feel motivated to cook just for yourself but I find cooking for someone else somewhat joyful…providing they’re not ill afterwards.

I’ve always found it hard to put on weight but whenever I express that I get peculiar looks like I’m wearing a porcupine for a hat. It wasn’t a normal day at school unless someone threatened to snap my legs in half; whenever I go to the doctors I’m always quite-to-very underweight. At my lowest weight I remember looking in the mirror while naked and truly resembling one of the skeletons in Jason and The Argonauts.

Sometimes after gigs audience members come up to me and say things along the lines of, “Gosh girl, you need to eat more – look how thin you are”. Let me make something clear: just because I’m of the slender variety this is still not ok. Just as people who are overweight could potentially have a problem, people who are underweight also can – without it automatically having to be bulimia or anorexia.

Could you imagine the outrage if someone went up to another human and said, “Gosh girl, you need to eat less, look how fat you are.” You wouldn’t go to the theatre then wait for one of the actors afterwards just to comment on their weight would you? It’s no different to that. Maybe because comics often share more of their personal lives than a lot of other performers some folk think this is a perfectly rational thing to do. It’s not.

Next time you’re wondering about an aspect of the person onstage that isn’t immediately something to do with the show, maybe mind your own God damn business you nosey parker.

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Written by Harriet Dyer

Harriet Dyer is an eccentric and full of life palavers human being that originally hails from the land of Cornwall.