I feel quite strongly about food. Not just the seasonal aspect of it, but actually how you can knock together something pretty tasty without pursing your lips at an imaginary camera and pretending you’re Nigella kicking off her new Louboutins (although I won’t tell if you won’t).
I get my love of food from my mother, who used to cater and would test out dishes on my Dad and I. All throughout my childhood (and ever since, whenever I visit home), we eat well. It’s one of the many reasons I’ve missed heading back to Glasgow this year (you know, because of that bloody virus).
Actually, I feel so strongly about food that I’ve done subheadings. So good luck.
Yes – recipe books are a big yes for me.
Not just because they provide you with recipes, but because if you get hold of a good one, the way that they are written can be just like novel. Nigella Lawson (I know, I’m obsessed) is an actual journalist, so she has amazing prose. I have one Jamie Oliver cookbook that someone gave to me (possibly as a practical joke) and look, I’ll be honest, it’s not great. But fair play to him, he’s made a career out of being incredibly irritating (something part of me also aspires to do).
You can find some really obscure ones too – I recently bought a cookbook about the Queens Night Market in New York. It’s not just packed full of great things to cook, but it’s pretty educational too. I’ve learned a lot about different cultures, particularly during a year in which our ability to travel has been stifled. Obviously, Delia is a staple, but let’s try and broaden our horizons a bit, eh?
Having said that, I wouldn’t want to piss Delia off – we’ve all seen how she shouts at Norwich fans. Luckily enough, I doubt she’s come across this blog.
Okay, so we probably haven’t been able to eat out (or help out) as much as we would have wanted to this year.
But there’s nothing – nothing – like eating out with your friends or family. That’s the great thing about food, it’s not just there for sustenance, but it’s there to bring people together. Whether it’s a quick burger at Five Guys or it’s dinner with a couple of courses at your favourite restaurant, you can’t escape that you’re sitting together, chatting and laughing in a social setting because there’s food in front of you.
And there are so many to choose from. A couple of weeks ago, we went up to North London for dinner with friends at an amazing French deli that pretty much exclusively serves charcuterie boards and wine. It was amazing.
Did I google “Can you die from too much cheese?” the next morning? Yes.
Do I regret it? No.
But the thing that made it was the conversations at the table. The cheese and cured meats just perfected it. Oh, and the wine.
Throwing Stuff Together
“Oh god, I have nothing in the fridge” – it’s something I used to say to myself regularly. But actually, a quick google of what you do have and you can find a recipe with pretty much any combination of back-of-the-cupboard tins.
I’ve come up with some pretty interesting and tasty combinations, and at the end of the day, you don’t have to try it again if it really didn’t sit well with you. But jot down anything that you did enjoy, because one day you know that you’ll go back to it.
And if you think it’s going to taste horrific, just chuck in as much cayenne pepper as you can find and it’ll blow your mouth up so much that you’ll forget that you even put macaroni cheese in a buckwheat wrap – just make sure you wash it down with a couple of glasses of Whispering Angel.
Now this is a contentious one. And it’s particularly dangerous when you’re at home alone and cooking for one. I am unambiguously confident that getting a bit of a buzz on while you’re cooking is accidental. And I really don’t want to hear an argument against that.
Of course I’m going to open a bottle and have a glass of my favourite Marlborough Sauv while I’m making dinner. It’s what I do. And you should too.
Something else that I think is a really clever idea to show the world what I’m making for dinner is to broadcasting it on Instagram (although it’s pretty impressive, I have to say). I was clearly made for some sort of on-screen role. Don’t do a Facebook Live though – you’ll get a torrent of real time abuse from your friends. Trust me, I’ve done it.
Just make sure that you have a glass of water next to your workstation as well as that very tasty glass of Cloudy Bay. You’ll thank me in the morning.
Look, food isn’t stuffy. It doesn’t have to be flashy or complicated and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to whip up something really wholesome that you, your other half and your friends can’t enjoy (you know in line with government restrictions etc etc.)
The only person that you need to satisfy with your culinary concoctions is yourself. And if you didn’t enjoy it, don’t tell anyone. It’ll be our little secret.