Of what whales eat and other musings…

Ok, yes, I missed a deadline last night… excuse – I was drugged out on the Dramamine I took for seasickness (being the possessor of one of those sad stomachs which rears up angrily if I so much as stray a couple of metres into the water at the beach!) but am going to make up for it – it’s 365 posts in 365 days – remember – my loophole is I can write two posts or even more on some days so I get there – trust the Indian to find the loophole in the rule that I made for myself – oh, lord! We are all politicians in the making and I had fooled myself into thinking that i had embraced no ‘isms’ whatsoever – one lives and one learns things about oneself!

The whalewatching trip out of Boston harbour was incredibly exciting – we sighted no fewer than twenty one whales and a seal which followed us for over a mile (see just how American I’m becoming – actually going non-metric!) and kept popping its head out of the water every few seconds to eye us curiously – maybe it was wondering whether we were very large prey? I was careful to not go too near the prow of the boat – after all – fat is the most difficult substance to procure in nature and we do not want to tempt any predators with our extra kilos – pounds rather!  And those waters do harbour sharks – the tour guide said so!

The whales seemed to be putting on  a special show for us as they cavorted in the water – showing tails and undulating silhouettes – they are unimaginably graceful for such large creatures. And no wonder they get to be that size – did you know that they can feed continuously for six months – like I mean – a mealtime lasts that long – with no breaks and then for six months they can go without any food whatsoever! It’s called a slimming diet – no food – and boy do they need it by then!

From a day that starts out warm and all you need is a shirt, the boat zips into the ocean and then suddenly I am feeling like ice-cream – semi-freddo – soon to be fully freddo! I mean – it is bone-chillingly cold. And I begin to think of hot soups and hot parathas and generally hot anything will do! The glorious dance of the whales drives everything else out of my mind till it is time to head back.

Thinking of what whales eat – krill and plankton and small fish – (all stony cold, I bet – I wouldn’t want their diet even if I could eat for six months continuously!) and Moby Dick and by some strange association – the hunting of the Snark… brings to mind quorn! We’d been talking about it with one of our hosts on this trip – the incredibly hospitable, warm couple – Neena and Anupam – who are veritable encyclopaedias (encyclopaediae?) of knowledge on almost anything under the sun and I learnt for the first time that quorn – unlike my imagination which had characterised it as being made of veggies and Marmite and mushrooms and eggs – compressed into little pellets (I swear!), it was actually a microfungus!

Wiki says :

“Quorn is a major meat substitute product within the UK and Ireland.[1] The brand was launched in 1985 by Marlow Foods (a joint venture between Rank Hovis McDougall and ICI). Quorn is intended to replicate the taste and texture of meat.[citation needed] All Quorn foods contain mycoprotein as an ingredient, which is derived from the Fusarium venenatum fungus and is grown by fermentation using a process that has been called similar to the production of beer or yoghurt.[2] The fungus culture is dried and mixed with egg albumen, which acts as a binder, and then is adjusted in texture and pressed into various forms. Additionally, the carbon footprint of Quorn Frozen Mince in the UK is claimed to be 70% less than that of beef.[3]

I am shocked – but like I said – we live and we learn.

All that is fine but quorn still doesn’t sound very appetising to me – am going to try it and tell you what it’s like. In the meantime, I get hungrier and hungrier – a packet of chips does little to allay hunger. An ENORMONGOUS (I promise there is no non-messy way to eat it) sandwich – I have to keep picking bits of cabbage and mayo and ketchup and mustard and various unidentifiable objects off my clothes through the day! – and a yummy red velvet cookie (they are called whoopie pies – such a cute name!) are what I get – here’s the latter…


Don’t be fooled – it’s not hard like our biscuits, it’s soft! – more like a cake. Adapted from a recipe from Oven Love

  • 1 cup flour/maida
  • 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 tbsp. salted butter, softened
  • Scant 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 small egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla essence
  • ½ cup whipped yogurt
  • 1 tsp red food coloring
  • 1 batch cream cheese frosting – (whip together 4 tbsp cream cheese, 2 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence and 1/2 cup of icing sugar (more if you lie ‘em sweet)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚ F
  2. Using something round, trace evenly spaced circles onto pieces of parchment paper sized to fit two cookie sheets. Place the parchment on the cookie sheets so that the side you have drawn on is facing down; set aside
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl,cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Blend in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the yogurt, beating each addition just until incorporated. Repeat so that all the yogurt has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Blend in the food coloring
  4. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe the batter onto the parchment paper using the tracings as a guide. Bake 7-9 minutes or until the tops are set, rotating the baking sheets halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets at least 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred to a cooling rack. Repeat with any remaining batter. Allow cookies to cool completely before proceeding
  5. Fill the frosting in a clean pastry bag fitted with a plain, round tip. Pair the cookies up by shape and size. Flip one cookie of each pair over so that the flat side is facing up
  6. Pipe frosting onto the flat-sided cookie of each pair, leaving the edges clear. Sandwich the cookies together so the flat sides are facing each other and press gently to help the filling reach the edges. To store, refrigerate in an airtight container

No this is not the whale’s slimming diet – it’s the one in the other six months – the fattening one!