Visionary writer J.G. Ballard‘s list of simple but enjoyable foods would probably make most struggling “healthy living” bloggers’ heads explode. Especially the ones on restrictive diets whose mission is to bore everyone around them to death by talking of nothing else. Ballard, who spent two years of World War II in a Japanese internment camp with his family, also remembered the postwar food rationing that persisted into the ‘50s in the U.K. Even so, he wasn’t obsessive about food. In fact, he saw a happy correlation between food and sex.
One should love outside one’s own head. I believe that the tongue is just as important as other organs. If you have an appetite for food, you’ll have an appetite for sex. I’m always suspicious of people who lack an appetite and I admire people with strong appetites. However, now I’m 72 I don’t eat a great deal and, let’s say, my tastes have simplified. It is a matter of metabolism, and I’m bored. I’ve eaten everything.
I live alone and eat rather modestly when I’m at home…
I wake at 8 a.m. and have a couple of cups of tea. Midmorning I make a coffee to get my brain in gear. I used to have a large scotch (and that worked even better). Alcohol used to provide a large proportion of my calorie intake and my life enhancement, but I’m too old for that now. I don’t drink spirits any more. Carte Noir is a good substitute. I’ve always drunk instant coffee at home—ever since I read Elizabeth David, who wrote about its virtues. For lunch I eat odd things—Parma ham with a few drops of truffle oil. Dinner is usually an omelette.
If I’m out I like some lobster, but you have to be lucky because it can be very disappointing, and I order a lot of crab dishes. I’m not as keen on beef as I used to be but I still enjoy a nice juicy steak. I’m also very fond of game. I love quails—Maquis do a wonderful quail dish—but I like grouse best of all. I eat a lot of game because the flavour is richer, it’s darker. I drink it with a good red wine. I prefer French wines, possibly because they were the only good wines when I was young. I used to drink a bottle of wine a day, now I have less: half a bottle a day.
Below, J.G Ballard profiled by Melvyn Bragg on The South Bank Show: