Loss The Bert Balladine Way
Harrison aka Al Qahira
all, let me state that I am not obsessed with food, but I do believe
in eating three meals a day in a timely fashion. I like to start
out with breakfast to fuel up for the day, then have a light lunch
around midday to keep me going and then dinner somewhere around
six. This combined with an occasional special treat of ice cream
keeps my stomach and me content and non-demanding of my thoughts.
The schedule has worked for me for years;
did I know that by traveling with Bert
my stomach would be put to an endurance test. As you can tell,
we survived (me, my stomach and Bert) – I am here to
tell you about it.
A couple of
years ago while traveling in Europe I had arranged to meet Bert
in Vienna to attend one of his workshops. I took the train from
Budapest to Vienna and met the workshop sponsor at her house.
She and her husband offered me early supper, which I accepted
(I had traveled with Bert before!) That evening Bert and I went
out around ten to eat and to see one of Bert’s dancers perform;
unfortunately, the club we visited didn’t serve food at
that hour, but – hey, what the hell – I’d eaten
five hours before. So much for Friday!
I had continental breakfast – bread, butter, jam and tea.
Bert had some smoked sausage, but I don’t eat that sort
of thing. At noon I had a sandwich or something light. After class
Bert went off with someone, saying that he would be back soon
and that we were going to dinner with the sponsor and her husband.
I had half a roll left which I had brought from Budapest so I
ate that, thinking it might be all I’d get for some time
– little did I know! When Bert returned after about an hour
he told me all about the ice cream he had while he was out. Ice
cream is my favorite food and he knew that! I asked, “Did
you bring me some?” He responded, “No, it wasn’t
very good.” I’d like to have come to that conclusion
myself. “Well”, he said, “we’re going
to eat as soon as Renate (the sponsor) gets here.”
Some hours later Renate and husband and daughter arrived. I was
faint with hunger.
went racing off with Janos driving like a madman. I swear
we were doing 60 MPH in the city, but that was okay since
we were racing to get food.
We made a
couple of stops to pick up dancers until we were packed into the
car like sardines; probably it was a good thing I hadn’t
eaten! Making our way up into the mountains above Vienna we stopped
at a hofbrau house and found a lovely spot outside overlooking
the city lights. To our dismay we were told we couldn’t
sit there – no waiters or something – so we moved
to a not-so-scenic spot. When we finally got the attention of
someone and wanted to give our food orders we were told they had
stopped serving food at 9:00 or 9:30 – was is that late
already? So off we went again, this time at 90 MPH, to another
place that was still serving food. The smell of food cooking was
almost too much to bear given my starving state. We finally ate
at about 10:30 p.m. that night.
Show with Bert, Glenn, Gladys and friend at a Rakkasah Festival
That was not
the first time I had nearly starved to death “on the road
with Bert”. I visited him at his ranch for a couple of days
a few years ago. Breakfast comes late there, about 10:30, and
usually consists of eggs from the ranch (to which I am allergic),
bacon if I’m lucky, otherwise some kind of wurst or sausage
which I can’t eat, and some form of bread, which I do eat
in quantity. One day we left for San Jose after breakfast. Bert
was scheduled to teach a private lesson in the late afternoon
and a class in the evening. It’s about a 2-1/2 to 3-hour
trip by auto and we planned to stop for lunch on the way.
As we drove
through San Francisco, Bert began telling me about the wonderful
Fantasia Bakery, which had all kinds of goodies, including absolutely
sinful chocolate cake. Next to chocolate ice cream chocolate cake
is my favorite food! I asked, “Are you just going tell me
about it or are we going to stop there?” We stopped. The
slices of cake were about 2”x2-1/2”x1/2”; however,
in that small space there were about 3000 calories, most of them
from fat, all marvelously delicious! YUM!!
Off we went
to San Jose, no lunch stop. I should have known. To Bert the piece
of cake was lunch; to me it was a snack – now where’s
lunch? It was not to be. We arrived at the studio; Bert started
the private lesson, and before it was over the students were arriving
for the evening class. So much for supper, on top of no lunch.
After class, about 9:30 p.m., the sponsor served meatballs with
something (I don’t remember what; I think my memory cells
had died from starvation.). Since this same sort of thing had
happened before, I mentioned it to Bert on the way home.
said I should have told him I was hungry, that even his cat
told him by getting up on the dining room table and walking
around when she was hungry. Somehow I didn’t think the
dining room table would withstand my parading around on it!
was the time Glenn
(Bert’s cousin) was away from the ranch. For those of you
who don’t know him, Glenn is an excellent cook. Bert does
not cook, so when Glenn is not there it’s catch-as-catch-can
when it comes to eating. I was in the kitchen about 9:00 a.m.
fixing my tea and toast when Bert came in and said, “You
should eat some of the cake Glenn left for you.” I opined
that it wasn’t a good idea to start the day with something
that sweet and that bread would be more substantial. He assured
me we would be eating an early lunch. WRONG AGAIN! I should have
known by then, but I ate the cake in anticipation of an early
lunch. We left about noon, taking a goat to drop off at a friend’s
farm, but stopping by at the feed store (unfortunately, only animal
feed). Then, when we arrived to drop off the goat, we had to wait
and see all of the animals this person had. Also, the lady was
concerned about Bert and had to give him some frozen food so he
wouldn’t starve in Glenn’s absence. Eventually we
were off to Novato to drop off some chickens.
the hell had they come from? I knew about the goat because
it was in the cab of the truck with us, but the chickens were
in the back. They were destined for some “gentlemen
farmers”; that meant they knew little about farming
and even less about chickens.
“Bert as Teacher” offered to show them how to tell
if the chicken was about to lay an egg. One guy demurred; he wasn’t
about to do that, which amused Bert because the young man was
a medical student. The other one at least tried. All the while
I nearly wet myself laughing at their discomfiture. When the egg-laying
class was over they asked Bert to translate a letter they had
received. We were offered something to drink, but having a glass
of something alcoholic on top of one piece of cake five hours
earlier – no, not possible. I settled for water. About 3:00
p.m. we were finally ordering our “early” lunch.
thing to remember when traveling with Bert: he does not feel hunger.
Perhaps this is a leftover from his early days of going hungry
during the food shortages of ’45-’46 which followed
the war in Europe. I think he may have learned then to ignore
his feelings of hunger.
the road when traveling with Bert:
carry something to “nosh”on.
eaten between breakfast at 10:00 a.m. and supper at 9:00 p.m.
is considered lunch by Bert.
something to “nosh” on.
- You may
be starving, but Bert isn’t or isn’t aware that
something to “nosh” on.
- Get up
on the dining room table and prance around; he seems to understand
the connection between food and hunger when there is a visual
- MOST IMPORTANT!
Bring something to nosh on – unless you want to lose weight;
then think like Bert and just don’t think about food –
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