Dear Mystery Woman,
I don't mind that your table companions turned around to stare, breathing over my shoulder, when my breakfast arrived. I know that they were just trying to decide what to order and it seemed like you were out on a family outing, and you can choose your friends but you can't choose your eggs-florentine-oogling family. I even quite liked it when your brother/cousin/alternate male family member asked the waitress for a Coke, because it gave me the smug satisfaction of knowing that they don't serve that kind of beverage (because this is Cuba Street) and that he would have to settle for an organic Phoenix Cola. But what I did mind is your comment that you couldn't order the halloumi that morning because it is "dangerous stuff".
Just quietly, cheese is generally thought to be less dangerous than a lot of other things. Knives, for example. Or bombs or sulfuric acid or baboons or pedophiles. I can think of a few situations where perhaps halloumi could be considered to be dangerous, perhaps if you are deathly lactose intolerant, in which case this blog post is largely irrelevant but I have always been an over thinker and I am okay with that. Other situations could include if a tonne of halloumi was about to fall out of the sky and you were about to be pelted with many little cheese sized bricks. I'm trying not to think about the dangerous implications for all of the little animals who have miserable lives because of the dairy industry, because I already can't eat porky things or chicken and giving up cheese would be as hard for me as giving up lipstick. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that that's not what you meant because you ended up ordering something with chorizo in it.
Cheese is not dangerous. Cheese is delicious. Sure, it might be dangerous if you ate cheese and only cheese for every meal for a whole year. But it would be dangerous to only eat carrots or chocolate or watermelon for a year. Alone, a food can not be dangerous. Food is just food. It does not have ill intentions or moral attributes. Food can not be 'good' or 'bad'. Foods have different nutritional components, yes, and eating everything in moderation is really great but labelling a food as 'bad' only contributes to a weird, fucked up belief system around eating. A belief system where business women can't buy chocolate off my friend Izzy without commenting on how 'naughty' they are being. Where a human being can't go to the gym without being told they are 'being good' or that they are being 'virtuous' if they eat some grapes, even though they might just like going to the gym to punch things and eating grapes because they taste delicious. A belief system where this kind of stupid Facebook status update is normal and 'liked' by four people:
These words, the "good" and the "bad" and the "virtuous" and the "naughty" are so insidious. They are body shame and blame, tied up in little adjective parcels. They are body surveillance culture, hidden as offside remarks. They are the words that say it is okay to be fat, as long as you are dieting and running up a hill every five minutes, because God forbid you love your body the way it is. Those words are about as stupid as this annoying commercial, because this is how chocolate biscuits have to be advertised:
I'm not sure what I am most bothered by here. Am I offended that Tim Tams are supposed to be a naughty illicit secret or that talking about openly about sex like this is such a NAUGHTY GIGGLE?
Mystery woman, you are a grown up. You control what you eat. You are in charge of eating what will nourish your body and what will make you feel amazing and what will taste delicious. If you think cheese is dangerous because it might make you fat, then you should learn to love yourself. Your body is going to be with you for your whole life. It might change. It might get fatter or thinner or hairier or sicker or stronger, but it's yours and you are stuck with it, so you better love it and nourish it and make it feel wonderful. Your body is not your enemy. Cheese is not your enemy. Neither are Tim Tams or Leeks or Muffins. If you want, you could read some of this stuff by the Fat Nutritionist or learn about intuitive eating. But most importantly maybe you should trust your body, stop worrying and eat whatever the fuck you want. And even more importantly if you want halloumi you should go to Aro Cafe instead of Olive, because their portion size is actually worth sixteen dollars.
Ally Garrett, cheese defender extraordinaire.