St. John Valley

On skyr, cold tea and oatmeal

I highly recommend skyr, cold tea and oatmeal as a diet. Seriously, I have some idea if this works, but in light of the present situation, it will have to suffice.

It’s worth noting that the MS I have is plagued with bizarre symptoms, that, if it weren’t for the persistence of the thing, I’d probably find laughable. At the moment however, laughing hurts. It manifests itself in electric shocks up one side of the face when I move my mouth, or try to chew something more solid than oatmeal and skyr.

 For those who mightn’t know, skyr is a type of yogurt. It’s Icelandic in origin, heavier and richer than Greek yogurt, both sour and sweetish. I got wind of the stuff in a hop-over from Reykjavik, tried it and took to it instantly. It also figures in some of the “Sagas of the Icelanders,” a favorite read. Somebody dumps a barrel of skyr on another unfortunate bloke and that forms part of the story’s revenge theme. Chaplinesque, and how like Icelanders to have the local product on hand for just such a use.

Skyr was also used in the past by Icelanders to preserve meat. One dares not tread where others dare to go.

The cold tea part is more mundane, but as some like their tea iced, I prefer it strong and black and cold and drink gallons. Well, not in one go, but by the pot. I used to marvel at the ways tea lovers nattered on and on about the right way to prepare a proper cup and find that five bags in a six or eight cup teapot, add boiling water and let sit for the morning on the counter works. British labourers (sic) like so-called “builder’s tea” — strong, hot with milk and two sugars. Blah. 

The oatmeal bit is probably hereditary and habitual. It’s still the greatest breakfast invention ever. Except in some countries where it forms not only part of the breakfast diet, but the diet itself. In Scotland (yes, that again), oatmeal has different incarnations as boiled and served with salt, watered, over-nighted and chewed accordingly as crowdie, or occasionally served with a strong brown beverage known as single-malt. There’s a fiddle tune called “Whisky before Breakfast” and one wonders how it got its name and where it came from.

The medicinal properties of common oatmeal are not touted enough, though some merely label it as ‘heart healthy’ without any explanation. The stuff is said to drag cholesterol out of the bloodstream kicking and screaming. Where it goes from there is anybody’s guess, probably the liver, where it happily resides undisturbed. Not so, I hear. It gets ‘eliminated,’ which bears no further explanation.

On another note, there are those who probably would take exception to writing on a subject as mundane and probably as personal as one’s current breakfast diet. I suppose there’s a sort of philosophical turn to this. I have plenty to say about today’s political landscape, but demur somewhat in favor of something my father told me once; “keep your hands and your thoughts to yourself.” I can think of no better advice for certain others to take.

Besides, most of us live in the day to day and go about our business with scant regard for those things over which we have little, if any control. I can control what I eat. I have to control what I eat. 

Right now, skyr, cold tea and oatmeal does the trick.

Dave Wylie’s life and work experience runs the gamut from newspaper editor to carpenter to grant writer to boat builder with lots of other work wedged in-between. Wylie currently is president of a management company that oversees an elderly housing complex and president of the local historical society. He resides in Madawaska.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.