More Ovaltine, Please!

“Ovaltine”
October 10, 2005
By Gretchen Smith

I can judge the overall health of my life by one simple thing…when I start to like Ovaltine things have gotten really bad.  My affinity for Ovaltine began in Belize Central America when my neighbor Mrs. Guzman would offer a cup to me.  It always tasted so nutritious and delicious.  In Belize resources were scarce and simple things like vegetables cost a fortune.  I used to go fishing for food but usually came up empty so Mrs. Guzman would take pity on me and supply with a nice warm cup of Ovaltine.

Sometimes there was little to eat but I rarely complained for I loved my little hut just steps from the sea.  No electricity or running water made for an interesting life but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.  There was a crazy artist just down the beach from me  and I recall thinking how weird he was.  His name was Tom.  Everyone tolerated him…nobody liked him.  Now more than 10 years later I find myself the same…a starving artist.  I’m sure Tom liked Ovaltine too.  I always keep some in my cupboard and when times are plentiful it gets pushed to the back.  When I can see the label start to peak through it is a reminder that I need to go shopping and soon the jar is buried deep in the recesses of the cupboard once again.  Every so often God decides to humble me and I open the cupboard to find the Ovaltine front and center.

I pulled out the jar today and read the label like it was my last will and testament.  Sugar, Cocoa processed with alkali, barley malt extract, sweet dairy whey (milk), beet extract (see Mom I am too eating my vegetables), salt, mono and diglycerides, molasses, natural caramel flavor, vanillan.  I also noted the fact that it is a highly nutritious drink containing high percentages of the daily allowances of a variety of vitamins.  45% of Vitamin A, 45% Vitamin C, 8% Calcium, 15% Iron, 50% Vitamin D, 60% for Vitamin B-1, 45% for Vitamin B-2, 45% Niacin, 45% Vitamin B-6, and even 8% of my daily phosphorus needs.  It’s also fat free and cholesterol free which is fabulous for those of us trying to lose weight.  So basically if I drink 3 cups of this stuff a day I will be abundantly supplied for my dietary needs.

I’m on my third cup of Ovaltine today and considered cooking my beans in it because even an onion is out of my financial reach today.  Things are bad and the warm liquid soothes my worries and replenishes my tired body.  The nice thing is that due to the periods of starvation in my life my body has become quite adept at storing fat.  When times are good I eat abundantly and my body cooperates with my starving artist lifestyle by saving every little morsel.  I suppose if I were on one of those survivor shows that they would sacrifice me for food because at 6 foot tall and 300 pounds I could feed a tribe but I know that it wouldn’t be the meat they were after but the Ovaltine I had stored up over the years.

I have been praying for God to help me lose this extra weight and it seems he has answered my prayers with Ovaltine once again.  I have not quite hit rock bottom yet…I still have some beans and flour and even some fine Kenyan coffee and one can of chunky vegetable soup for my last supper but it is the Ovaltine that I covet the most.  I shall start rationing it as my days come to an end.  How long can someone like me survive on a diet of Ovaltine, beans, and my own body fat?  I’m not sure but I suppose I’ll find out. Jesus fasted for 40 days so I am thinking that perhaps I will notify my parents that my funeral will be in approximately 4-6 weeks.

When times get tough like this I often browse through the local paper to see what menial job I could tolerate but I am not hungry enough yet to allow the outside world to influence my creative endeavors…afterall, the Ovaltine jar is still half full so there is still hope for this starving artist.

You can find out more about Gretchen Smith at the following links.

Gretchen Smith
PO BOX 1022
Paducah, KY 42001
270-243-0444
tallartist@hotmail.com
www.tallartist.com

Are you an artist with a food related story to share? If so, then share it by sending it to info@starvingartistsdiet.com. Also send a photo of you, a sample of your work (if possible), and your best contact information (website, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). It will then be posted to this blog. All contributions may be edited for grammar and only edited for content with the contributor’s permission. I look forward to reading and sharing your stories.

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The Idaho Story by Amy Bleu

Amy Bleu

My band and I were nearing the end of a one week tour of the Northwest, and heading to a small college town in Northern Idaho. We had a volunteer roadie (which is extremely rare for us). He is someone very close to us so I cannot reveal his identity for fear of embarrassing him as this story progresses. I had eaten a small lunch and was not the mood for digging into my snack stash, which included vegan minty creme-filled chocolate cookies, roasted garlic flavored soy crisps, and tortilla chips. I figured the guys would all want dinner, too, so I suggested a pit stop. My bass player/husband and our roadie said they had eaten a hearty, late lunch and were still full. My accordionist stated that he’d had a giant lunch earlier and was still full, but might have a snack once we got to the venue.

We were going to be performing for three hours. I’d hoped we could set up quickly enough to allow for time to eat at the bar, if there was indeed anything I could stomach there, which as it turned out there was not. We also had some technical issues during set up/sound check, so there no time to break for food before the first set. Luckily our accordionist, Adam, was going to start the night off with a solo set, under his moniker, Bellows Bot. I told him I was going to run outside and look for something to eat really quick while he played, and asked if I could pick up anything for him. He said no, but asked if I could look in the car for a protein bar he’d left in there. I went out to the car and couldn’t find his protein bar but I found a fruit snack bar that my husband Matt had left in the car so I grabbed that. Then I headed off in search of vegan food.

I walked a couple of blocks and saw nothing open. A few people were walking my way so I asked them if they knew of any place that served food and was still open. They said there was a bagel place just another block away that stayed open until three AM. When I got there, my mouth already watering, I surveyed the menu and found a bagel sandwich which sounded healthy and vegan: loads of veggies, no cream cheese, no mention of any other kinds of dairy. I ordered that one and headed back to the bar with it. As soon as I sat down at our booth I tore open the wrapper and began to wolf it down. About half way into it, I began to wonder what was making it taste like something that had been scraped off of the bottom of our car tire. I opened the sandwich and found that it had been smeared with mayonnaise! I tried to reason with myself. I was already half-way done with my first beer of the night and would surely want to have a few more. I hadn’t eaten much else and there was no other food around. I had already eaten half of this disgusting sandwich. I figured, I might as well finish it. Three/fourths of the way through, however, I found I could not go on. My stomach felt ill and I lost my appetite.

As I silently cursed the entire town of Moscow, Bellows Bot finished his set, and I offered him the snack bar. I don’t remember whether he ate it or not. Once I finished my beer I began to get pretty tipsy, ostensibly due to my lack of nourishment. Great, I thought, and now it’s time to go on stage. I swore off booze for my first set, then hit the bottle again once our second set started. When the show was over I got very inebriated. My level of drunkenness was only surpassed by our roadie’s level. He was only 22, too, so he was a drinking rookie. We piled into the van, and then the roadie and I raided my bag of snacks. We indiscriminately tossed chips, cookies and soy crisps into our mouths, all the while laughing about non-sense while Matt and Adam were in the front behaving like adults. I started to get tired and nod off, when suddenly I hear an awful noise. I opened my eyes and was alarmed to find vomit on my shoes and all over the backseat of the car. We pulled over so our roadie friend could continue to empty his stomach. Then we pulled over two more times. That combined with the snow on the road added an additional ninety minutes to a ninety minute drive. Three hours later we arrived back in Spokane where we were all staying. I vowed to continue to push for meals for myself and my crew before shows, and to never mix snacks while drinking.

Amy Bleu is a performing songwriter from Portland, Oregon.

http://www.amybleu.com

http://www.myspace.com/amybleu

http://www.cdbaby.com/amybleu2

Are you an artist with a food related story to share? If so, then share it by sending it to info@starvingartistsdiet.com. Also send a photo of you, a sample of your work (if possible), and your best contact information (website, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). It will then be posted to this blog. All contributions may be edited for grammar and only edited for content with the contributor’s permission. I look forward to reading and sharing your stories.

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Bronson Maijala – Drummer

A hangover can be cured with a loaf of French bread. It’s $1.50 and supplies you with enough carbs to hide from the IRS. Most importantly, bread keeps you constipated. Constipation is key to an Artist’s survival. Nutrition must be stored for as long as possible…

Cookie dough is a healthy substitute for food. It’s got everything but fruit. Plus, you get full pretty quickly.You can eat two pieces of cookie dough for breakfast everyday, which should last you 12 working days. At $2.50 a package, that’s less than a quarter a day, and it’s healthy. It also makes you sh** black lava, which is pretty cool. By the way, sh***ing black lava is normal. It’s your body’s way of maintaining homeostasis…

Vodka is a great way to stay healthy without hurting your pocket. It’s about $4.00 a gallon and they all taste the same. You sleep like a baby, sweat out toxins, and lose weight. It’s like a gym in a bottle.

Bronson Maijala, Los Angeles – Drummer

http://www.vibraoptic73.bandcamp.com

(Do you have a fun, funny, intriguing, adventurous, or life changing story to tell about your adventures as an artist? It can be about food, shelter, clothes, or living in general. Please send your story in an email to info@starvingartistsdiet.com. Also include some pictures and contact information.)

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Amy Bleu – Songwriting Performer

“I used to work at a convenience store and would eat the food without paying for it.  I started gaining a few pounds and began to worry about getting scurvy because of all the processed food I was eating.  I couldn’t quit the free doughnuts and soda pop until I quit the job.

“Here in Portland, we have the most amazing vegan convenience store called Food Fight. Unfortunately, outside of the city, my band mates and I don’t have many options when perusing mini-marts.  We usually stop for a drink or sometimes grab a bag of chips, but we definitely can’t rely on the ‘fresh’ deli food which looks pretty disgusting anyway.”

Amy Bleu – performing songwriter
Portland, Oregon

http://www.amybleu.com

http://www.myspace.com/amybleu

http://www.cdbaby.com/amybleu2

(Do you have a fun, funny, intriguing, adventurous, or life changing story to tell about your adventures as an artist?  It can be about food, shelter, clothes, or living in general. Please send your story in an email to info@starvingartistsdiet.com.  Also include some pictures and contact information.)

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Sean Quinn – Comedian

Once my friend Kevin and I pretended to be doctors. Kevin’s sister was a doctor attending the conference, and she invited us to the hotel because two doctors couldn’t make it to the buffet, and she knew we were hungry. We had to wear name badges that didn’t match our appearances. I think my doctor was a woman and Kevin’s was Indian. We were unshaven, horribly dressed and probably reeking of liquor – basically, a step above homeless. I don’t know if they believed that we were doctors, but they were very polite and played along enough so that we could eat.

I’ve also snuck into Costco to get their free samples. If you go during lunch, they have a ton of free samples.”

Sean Quinn – comedian
Los Angeles, California
Seanpq80@gmail.com

(Do you have a fun, funny, intriguing, adventurous, or life changing story to tell about your adventures as an artist?  It can be about food, shelter, clothes, or living in general. Please send your story in an email to info@starvingartistsdiet.com.  Also include some pictures and contact information.)

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Artist’s Stories

You have reached The Starving Artist’s Diet: Artist Stories page. It is my desire that the many artists who visit this page will share their stories on what they have done to create their art. When someone has a true passion for their work, they are willing to make enormous sacrifice to fulfill that calling. While the term “Starving Artist” is a gross generalization, it’s also based in reality. Most artists at one point or another will suffer for their art. Many will have to do something else in order to just create. By sharing these stories artists can encourage one another and sometimes even provide valuable tools help others succeed or just survive.

I’ve always be a believer that the value of art is in the story of the artist. The work of an artist can be copied, but the artist cannot. The combination of artist and their art is what makes the work unique and valuable. My desire is that these stories will contribute to that value.

Please share your story by sending it to info@starvingartistsdiet.com. Also send a photo of you, a sample of your work (if possible), and your best contact information (website, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). I will then post it to this blog. All contributions may be edited for grammar and only edited for content with the contributor’s permission.

I look forward to reading and sharing your stories.

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