It started with an innocuous comment.
“I thought you’d given up on donuts?” said a voice from the back of the office.
Well, technically it wasn’t a donut. It’d been a handbrake-assisted drift into my assigned slot in the ‘NZ Autocar’ car park. Admittedly the rear wheels of the Bongo were now astride a flower bed but as the van hadn’t completely rotated then it didn’t count as a donut.
I was explaining this when he interjected “I’m referring to the icing sugar all over your chest.”
Bother. I had checked my chin in the mirror but hadn’t brushed the damning evidence from my manly chest nor my expanding waistline.
“Eating whilst driving is not yet illegal,” I pointed out.
“It can’t be far away,” came the retort. “If Waka Kotahi have cameras that can detect cell phone or seatbelt use, then they should be able to spot you shovelling a steak pie down your gob.”
The truth hurt. For while I’m not one to be applying mascara or shaving whilst driving, I do enjoy a light snack behind the wheel. But experience had shown me that some foodstuffs are infinitely more hazardous than others.
Take pies, for instance. I’d always been a sucker for mince and cheese but having searing hot gravy run down your arm can be a distraction when you’re weaving through motorway traffic. This has meant a switch to bacon & egg, which tends to cool quicker and remain relatively intact.
I’d also given sausage rolls the flick, as the floor wells were awash with flaky pastry from a decade of morning teas on the run. The mess wasn’t a major problem but the cabin resembled a snow globe every time I went over a speed hump. I needed to find something else to eat.
My first foray into alternative fare was the humble samosa. This ticked all the right boxes – it hung together well, had a decent spicy kick and had a higher percentage of meat-like ingredients than most sausage rolls. Unfortunately, it also put me in hospital – I hit one of the infamous Rodney District potholes at speed and the sharp corner of the samosa neatly excised my uvula. If you’re not sure what body part that is – relax, I can still have children.
(As a complete aside, the local Sperm Donor Clinic says statistically 11 per cent of all ‘NZ Autocar’ readers could be my offspring. Say hello to your Mum for me).
Looking for something a little softer, I stayed with the international theme and tried sushi. I found I was inclined to lose the occasional rice grain but overall the bite-sized portions tended to behave themselves in transit. Blandness was an issue so I found squirting on copious amounts of soy sauce was enough to appease my tastebuds. It was, however, less than satisfactory for any passengers within the sauce spray zone or who objected to me using chopsticks as I drove.
The final straw was ingesting a sphere of wasabi that I’d incorrectly identified as an errant avocado ball. It neatly cauterised the still-painful wound where my uvula had resided and left me blinking through a veil of tears for the rest of the journey.
Clearly I needed something that wasn’t designed to kill me.
I tried potato chips (too greasy), corn chips (not greasy enough) and rice crackers (a cruel blend of paper and polystyrene). I tried dried fish, battered fish and chocolate fish but only ended up with a compulsion to dig for worms.
In the end I succumbed to producing my own homemade muesli bars. If I avoided a yoghurt coating then my hands and steering wheel remained sticky-free. If I kept the refined sugar levels to a minimum then I could keep the threat of diabetes at bay. The mixture of natural grains would ensure my bowels remained regular and the fruit would be a welcome source of vitamins.
They are then the perfect snack. It’s just a pity they taste like cardboard.