Carbs are lovely aren’t they? So dependable. So comforting. There’s nothing a bit of stodge can't fix.
So why are we so scared of them?
We’ve vilified the poor potato. The white loaf is becoming practically obsolete amongst the young professional crowd, swept aside in favour of sturdier substances which promise to fill us up for longer, like rye bread and (gasp) quinoa bread. White pasta is all kinds of bad. If we must eat it, we must eat vast quantities of the whole grain stuff before embarking on some sort of intensive hit-class. Something to do with digestion and GI.
I’m not sure when I became the carbohydrates’ biggest cheerleader. It was probably around the time I read a headline saying ‘vegetables are the new carbs!’. Ridiculous. Let vegetables be vegetables! Stop turning them into something they don't want to be! They were not intended to act as a sub-standard substitution for spaghetti.
This month, it seems, the ‘scientists’ agree. A report carried out by Nutrition and Diabetes concluded that white pasta probably doesn't lead to a big bloated tummy after all, and that it might actually reduce the likelihood of obesity. It concluded that pasta, ‘contributes to a healthy body index, lower waist circumference and better waist to hip ratio’.
Unsurprisingly it made the headlines. Sadly, there is nothing sexier than talk of a tinier waist. ‘Rejoice!’, proclaimed the papers. ‘Pasta doesn't make you fat!’ ‘Put down your spiraliser! Stop eating all the eggs! We’re allowed it again!’
Regardless of the veracity of the report, the fact that it even made the headlines reveals something fundamentally wrong with our relationship with food in the UK.
Our diets are a revolving exercise in deprivation, substitution and trickery. Why do reports like this even make the news? Why do we need to be informed of the ever-changing arguments for eating certain things and avoiding others, inexorably distorting our understanding of what we should be eating.
Obviously the Italian diet differs to ours in the UK. This is just part and parcel of a whole succession of factors beyond our control, like history, weather, varying patters of immigration and timetables. Yet, one of starkest differences between the two nations lies in attitude, rather than diet. We all talk about food, but whilst Italians have lengthy discussions about what they are going to eat and what they have enjoyed eating, in the UK we talk about what we shouldn't have eaten and what we’re going to try not to eat.
Sitting in an office of women is a sad reminder of this. There is something quite disturbing about sitting opposite someone with a tupperware full of soggy strings of leftover courgetti slathered in tomato sauce and listening to them proclaim that it ‘tastes just like spaghetti’. It tastes good because you’ve lathered it in something else. You may as well give up the pretence and gobble down a tupperware of tomato and garlic sauce for lunch.
And, what of cauliflower rice? Who wants to spend their evenings in a tussle with a blender, pulverising a large cauliflower in an attempt to fool themselves into believing they’re eating rice? It doesn't taste of rice. It’s too small to taste of anything. The only reason it fills you up is because you’ve eaten an entire cauliflower plant.
I’m glad this study might have inspired some people to rekindle their relationship with the refined carbohydrate. But the point is, we shouldn't need to read a compelling argument to do it.
I vote we all just become a bit more Italian. Lets just enjoy some carbohydrates every now and then, without feeling like we’ve rendered ourselves to a lifetime of cellulite and wobbly bits.