Welcome to The Epic! I am launching this blog as a manifesto for and a guide to living well. The title and motto of the blog are taken from the Epicureans, at least some of whom believed in the notion that not one minute of the future was guaranteed to them and that as a result they had the duty to live life to its fullest every moment.

I believe in discovering fun and pleasurable things wherever I find myself each day and I am told I have a knack for unearthing them. My hope is that by sharing in my pleasures and some of my ways of finding them you will begin to collect all the riches that lie in the moments of your life. They are there. Take them! All our lives should be.....Epic.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Everyday Drinking: The Diet Plan

I previously wrote to introduce the fantastic anthology "Everyday Drinking", comprised of Kingsley Amis' articles on imbibery. Since so many people have a dieting resolution in the early months of this or any year, I will share Amis' sage advice on the subject:

The first, indeed the only, requirement of a diet is that it should lose you weight without reducing your alcoholic intake by the smallest degree.

Now this IS sage advice. He posits that his plan will contain none of the charts, tables, or menus of the typical diet book that inevitably ends with a statement that "of course" there is to be no alcohol. To the point...

Of COURSE? No ALCOHOL? What kind of people do they think we are?

Not trial lawyers, that's for sure. To paraphrase F. Lee Bailey, there may be a great trial lawyer somewhere that doesn't drink, but I never met her. The cocktail is the fuel of courtroom inspiration. Or the balm for it. But I digress...

Amis constructed his diet, many years ago, around the notion that you must omit bread, potatoes and sugar from your intake. Take that, Dr. Atkins. He then transcends the merely mortal dietologist by excluding vegetables and fruit as well. But he reminds us that for these trifling sacrifices we retain DRINK. He sustains life by the allowance of fish in any quantity at any time. Kippers and a martini, anyone?

Dining out is always a tough test for a gourmand on the culinary wagon. I know. Particularly when dining in business company. How does one stick to a diet under the possibly scornful and income diverting gazes of corporate associates? Amis suggests telling your companions that

...your new found aversion to vegetables, fruit, thick sauces and the rest springs from psychiatric advice or a religious conversion, either of which you prefer not to go into now.

Also when dining out, it is recommended that you only attend restaurants where they serve food you hate. If this is not possible, then order a dish you hate. Like Chicken Kiev. Take a few bites to strangle your appetite. Then instruct that it be left before you as your pals down Crepes Suzette, huge steaks and the rest. You should be sufficiently proof to the temptation by then. Another master-stroke. All these years I have been wasting my time by ordering what I actually LIKED and then trying to eat a tiny bit of it. I should have seen that the true path to physical enlightenment was to order things I DETEST.

Ultimately, Amis concludes that

Alcohol science is full of crap. It will tell you, for instance, that drink does not really warm you up, it only makes you feel warm--oh, I see; and it will go on about alcohol being not a stimulant but a depressant, which turns out to mean that it depresses qualities like shyness and self-criticism, and so makes you behave as if you had been stimulated--thanks.

In the end, the Amis Diet Plan is another very amusing romp through one very literate drinking person's day. He shreds the world of diet writing while providing urbane and useful advice to the imbiber who is tired of "zipping up his trousers at 45 degrees instead of vertically". That this wonderful book should accomplish both tasks at once is the heart of its appeal. And that of Kingsley Amis.


~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Mr. Lane: I agree with Mr. Amis completely. I even wrote a post about the same subject. See link below. Thank you.
Mrs. Scoffs


M.Lane said...

Mrs. Scoffs...I thought your booze diet haiku was GREAT! As is your blog. I am putting it on my links list.


heavy tweed jacket said...

I have to find this book by Kingsley Amis. This is a very funny post. I like the idea of ordering what I detest. Sounds harder to actually do, I'll bet. Apparently, exercise was not an integral part of the Amis diet?

Coffee with Cathy said...

It's funny because it's true! I'm going to Amazon right now and getting this book. Thanks for sharing.

M.Lane said...

HTJ, he gives passing reference to exercise only. Not a recommendation.

Cathy, thanks for your visit and comment! I hope you both enjoy this great little book as much as I have.


Zingiber said...

There is a line attributed to frank Sinatra: "I feel sorry for people who don't drink because when they wake up, that's the best they're going to feel all day."

M.Lane said...

Sartre, how true! I have a CD where Dino relates this too. Those fellows should KNOW.


M.Lane said...

Sartre, how true! I have a CD where Dino relates this too. Those fellows should KNOW.


tintin said...

I always tool a bottle of Courvosier VSOP with me on winter field exercizes. Getting up in the middle of the night in 20 below temps was always made easier by having a slash of cognac from the bottle before getting out of the mummy sleeping bag. It only makes you feel warmer? That's all I was looking for.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Solved this years ago... switched to a twist in the martini -- saved thousands of calories from the olives. These things add up you know.

M.Lane said...

Tintin, I long ago became a full card carrying member of the "illusion is usually better than reality" club. Good point.

Easy, a fine strategy! And you get a shot of vitamin C as well. Sort of.