Coded green.

Monday 11 September 2006

Soggy blue cereal

Pic of the day:

My childhood cereal

Actually I did not know back then that cereal existed. For one thing, I spoke Norwegian then, not English. I am not sure we have a corresponding word in Norwegian even today. When it comes to the cereal we eat for breakfast, they are either called breakfast mix if they consist of more than one ingredient, or simply the name of the grain. Corn flakes are called by their English name, while the native oat flakes are called "havregryn" ("havre" is the Norwegian name for oats). They are definitely oat flakes. And the thin ones require only moderate chewing, ideal for a quick meal. Just add skim milk and jam.

I am not sure how much I consumed of this during various parts of my childhood and youth. I have very few memories of my childhood, probably because I did not think it important at the time. I found my books and my daydreams far more interesting than my everyday life. But I know that in my late childhood or early youth, I would regularly consume a bowl of raw thin oat flakes in skim milk and with lots of jam, preferably raspberry. My mother discouraged the excessive use of jam, but gave up eventually without turning to violence. Besides, it was not as if I couldn't use every calorie I got. This was before the current age where children grow fat.

I moved out from home at 15, living with other relatives for three more years and then in a dorm for two years, at least as far as food is concerned. After that I've lived on my own. And in these decades I have barely touched oat flakes. I tried corn flakes a couple times but didn't get through an entire box before the fad faded. I also tried some granulated muesli thing; that fad lasted only a couple days. It is not until now that I suddenly find myself eating large bowls of oat flakes again, this time with blueberry jam. Perhaps it is because I once again live in a house rather than a basement and eat in a kitchen rather than in a home office. Or perhaps it is a form of nostalgia. Or perhaps it just tastes good. It does, even if you can't see it.

I may even be genetically programmed for this particular meal. It consists of arch-Norwegian ingredients. Except for the sugar in the jam (and I use the low-sugar type but without chemical sweeteners) it is all stuff that is typical of what my ancestors ate, when they did not have to subsist on sheep during the long winters. While wheat grows in Norway, the season was dangerously short up until the last couple decades. In the dry and sunny parts of the country, to the south and east, it usually succeeded, but sometimes the winter came early or lasted long, and the crops failed. Oats ripen much earlier, and while it may yield less and contain more fiber, at least you won't wake up one morning and see your fields covered in snow before you could harvest it. Milk, of course, was always a main part of our diet since so much of the land would grow little else than grass. In days of yore, the cows would spend the summer in the mountains. And in fall, people would go out in the forest to harvest blueberries and other bounties of nature. That was before we got paid so well that we no longer have time for such. Though I guess some still do it to relax or for the erotic experience.

So over the millennia, the body of my ancestors may have adapted to this diet. Scientists find that while we are all closely related, most mutations that persist over time are related to food. Each type of food gives a different proportion of such things as starch, fat, protein and fiber. Even different forms of sugar or protein are treated differently in the body. So whoever is able to utilize the local food sources most efficiently, has a benefit. Back when starvation was a very real problem, being able to digest the local foods was the key to survive and spread your genes. With my ancestors eating this stuff since the late Stone Age, it is a good bet it won't hurt me one bit. And it sure tastes good.

Then again, so do many other things, and no man knows what my next fad may be. Certainly not I.

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Generations
Two years ago: The unexpected evil
Three years ago: OMG they killed Anna Lindh!
Four years ago: War and rumors of war
Five years ago: Remember this day
Six years ago: Monoculture
Seven years ago: Loosening my religion

Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.

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