|Cheese on the La Bouche stall on Broadway Market.|
Who knows what it means, but I dreamt about cheese last night. Not just any old cheese – well, okay: pretty much any cheese.
Blue cheese and cream cheese; waxed cheese and peppered cheese; smoked cheese and fruited cheese.
Cheese on crackers and cheese on it’s own; cheese as part of a meal and cheese as a sneaky snack.
Double Gloucester and Stinking Bishop; up Wensleydale and down to Cheddar; from Gorwydd Carephilly to Red Leicester; from Stilton to Shropshire Blue.
There's Mrs Kirkham’s Lancashire cheese and Mrs Bourne’s Cheshire cheese – both white and crumbly and with a real tang.
Cheese with fruit and cheese without. Cheese with fruit cake and cheese with crudités; cheese straws and cheese dips to start the meal or just to accompany a glass of pinot grigio.
Cheese with holes and cheese with vine leaves. Goat's cheese and cow's cheese and ewe's cheese and buffalo cheese.
And that’s before we cross to foreign shores.
Gouda and gruyere, comté and manchego; morbier with it's stripe of ash and Fourme d'Ambert with it's glorious saltiness.
Salty feta to compliment twinkling emerald broad beans. Camembert, ripe to the point of melting.
Cheese roasted in its box and drizzled with honey or orange juice. Parmigiano Reggiano – so precious that Pepys buried his to save it from the fire.
Dreaming of cheese, I found myself in Wallace and Gromit terrain, briefly convinced in my sleeping state that the moon is made of cheese.
What had triggered this fixation?
The answer was simple: hunger.
I may well have been wrong in my diagnosis of Monday’s bout of the belly ache: by Wednesday afternoon it had become clear that it wasn’t gone.
One option remained: a complete fast.
Since I’d had little food on Tuesday and less on Wednesday itself, my fast began, in effect, late that afternoon and lasted all through yesterday and until this morning.
It seems to have done the trick, but if there’s one thing that not being able to eat does, it’s make you obsess about food.
The other thing is does, after a while, is leave you a tad faint.
Talking to a neighbour last night, she’d suggested something gentle to start with: rice, nice and plain.
But I already knew that it would be cheese.
“Oh, don’t do dairy,” she advised. Yet past experience of loss of appetite because of a stomach upset tells me that cheese is usually the first thing I reach for when I'm ready once again for food – and it doesn’t seem to harm me in such circumstances.
Indeed, my mother always used to swear that eggs were gentle on a rebellious tummy.
However tired I was last night, though, sleep didn’t come easily because of the hunger (a salutary reminder of what many millions experience on a daily basis). The mind is restless precisely because the stomach is empty.
And so, while the old wife’s tale has it that cheese will give you bad dreams, it was more the case that a lack of cheese, and the thought that, a few hours later, I could finally eat some, caused cheesy dreams.
This morning, early, I snacked on a little Bavarian smoked cheese, a little Cheddar and some cream cheese on TUC crackers - the latter would add some welcome salt back into my system.
Then back to bed.
Later, after a shower, and already feeling better than I had for days, I tucked into a chicken and mushroom Pot Noodle. Yes, I know it’s bad - but somehow it felt suitably safe. I permitted myself a couple of cans of sugary drinks too.
And hours later, it was still all calm in the gut.
After which, it was a case of getting back to real food, with a steak and Jersey Royals and peas f' me tea – the first proper meal since Sunday. And boy, do I feel better for it.
For the first time in days, if someone told me to say ‘cheese!’ I could actually manage it.