What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Mine is cookies and cream.
What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
Mine is cookies and cream.
He always asked for secret toast. His bedside table stacked with books, the curtains always flung wide open and the windows dangling on the edges of falling off. Surges of winter air when the months were cold and gusts of fresh earthy breeze in spring. In the summer hot air pregnant with the scent of the roses outside and the apple trees burdened with their scarlet load. Tangy and sweet.
Secret toast, melted butter, the thinnest layer of strawberry preserves. Preferably with a cup of tea. Cocoa when he was smaller. Becky would bring it upstairs to him. After he was tucked in bed. After the lights were turned off. After he had brushed his teeth. He would hear the familiar creak of the stairs down the hallway. The squeeze of the floorboard just outside his bedroom door. Secret toast and hot cocoa.
‘Now eat up and go straight to sleep,’ Becky would say, leaving him with it.
She wouldn’t sit and talk to him, or play a game of chess. He never stopped pleading. By the light of the moon, he sat alone in his bedroom eating his secret toast and sipping his warm hot cocoa. Sometimes the stars would twinkle through the large windows of his childhood bedroom. Sometimes the stars would twinkle through the dormer window of his adult attic. Studio attic. Stacks of books everywhere, no shelves to put them in. Stacks of books neatly put away in shelves in his childhood, probably by Becky.
Secret toast at 12am, 1am, 2am, three.
Secret toast with butter and the thinnest layer of the cheapest jam he could find at the local corner shop. Cup of tea with a splash of milk and a tablespoon of sugar. Sweet and strong, like arms guiding him through the tough moments of it all.
The loneliness of it.
But the comfort in its familiarity.
I think I am growing old. Folks, I ate a bakewell tart and did not gag. That is a sure sign of my advancement in age.
It means my tastebuds are mellowing, or falling off, or whatever tastebuds do when they get old. Where you begin to enjoy the taste of things that used to revolt you in your youth.
Olives? Can’t get enough of them.
Marzipan? Used to detest it and now I quite like it washed down with a mug of solid builder’s tea.
And now bakewell tarts.
Horrid tasting things, bit like those cinnamon chewing gums that Halls makes.
But I had just finished a mammoth cleaning session, was sweaty and tired, bit shaky because I realised that while my kids were happy and fed, I had forgotten to feed myself. Went rummaging in the cupboards for something quick to eat, shot of energy so to say.
And I saw those Kipling’s bakewell tarts looking back at me with their one-eyed innocence. The one eye being the glacé cherry on top.
And I picked one up and popped it into my mouth…. and it was SO BLOODY GOOD. My mouth immediately watered for more. So I had a cup of tea and two more!
What foods did you hate but grew to enjoy?
What is one thing you can eat and eat and eat and never stop eating until the packet is empty?
Mine is Butterkist sweet and salted popcorn. The microwave variety. The box comes with three packets in them, and I do not get them often, but when I do, I do not eat them daintily.
There is something so satisfying about a bag of freshly popped sweet and salted popcorn. I could keep going all day and have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Do you have a food that you just cannot get enough of? If so, let me know!
There is this beautiful book that I have become acquainted with, and it is called Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger. It is the perfect recipe book, just filled with the most decadent, good quality foods you can imagine. You can just think of eating these lovingly made dishes in the comforting, cosy glow of lamps, on rustic tables, using aesthetically pleasing cutlery, while the city just carries on outside. A loved one to share food with you is always a bonus.
My favourite ingredients to use lately are lemons, olive oil, coriander and garlic. You can combine these any way you please and you are guaranteed that the outcome will be decadent. Comforting. Quality.
The best food, in my opinion, is rice. It is so versatile. So filling. You can do so many different things to it and have an entirely new outcome every time.
I take my saucepan out, and drizzle in some extra virgin organic oil, turning the heat to low. I hum while I smash my garlic under a large knife, peel the skin off, and chop it up into little pieces that I throw into my pot. The garlic sizzles gently and the warm smell of it cooking gently wafts my way as I deftly squeeze the juice from a lemon, turning my spoon around to pull out the pulp. I don’t mind pulp.
In goes the juice, just when the garlic is sizzling but not browned, and in goes some freshly grated lemon zest, and in goes a healthy amount of salt. And in goes some pre-soaked rice, and also a nice heaped teaspoon of bright yellow turmeric powder. I stir it and sniff it and pour in some water until it covers the rice so that when my wooden spoon is inserted in the pot it covers the spoon halfway when the tip of the spoon is on the rice.
I then make sure my heat is turned as low as possible, put the lid on my rice and let it cook gently.
I then take some coriander, garlic, olive oil, salt, curry powder and smash all that together in a mortar and pestle. I have a lovely paste, which I smear onto some freshly defrosted cod (or fresh!). Into an oven dish it all goes, shoved in the oven for a good 25 minutes.
While my food simmers and sizzles away, I chop up an avocado, some cherry tomatoes, some rocket, some coriander (yes, again!), some cucumber and squeeze some more lemon over it, salt and pepper, olive oil (YES!!!) and toss it all up. Maybe some sumac? How about a little sprinkling of chilli flakes? Yes, that’ll do.
And then the yellow lemon rice is done, on a plate with a piece of soft salmon, the salad on the side, a drink poured into a glass, set on my rickety green table that is actually an old garden table but we don’t complain.. and that is my favourite meal ever.
What is your favourite meal ever? What are your go-to ingredients? If you could only ever eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
(mine would be rice!)
Recently I have been feeling really gross. Everything is disgusting. Everything smells bad and makes me gag. You know what smell makes me the most sick? It’s WASHING POWDER, folks. Yes, the stuff I use to make my clothes clean. I cannot STAND it. I take one whiff and I am done for. The very thought is making me heave.
why do you look like you’ve been slapped in the face? my husband asks, innocently, munching the instant noodles he has just cooked, oblivious to the fact that he has let out an instant-noodle stink bomb which has slowly spread its foul tentacles throughout the entire house.
because you’ve slapped me in the face with that abhorrent smell!
I have not been eating much, suffice to say, and as such I have been making myself more sick, and yes, more hungry. It really is a vicious cycle!
Which is why, yesterday, I let my husband drag me to a restaurant/’diner’ in Manchester called the ‘New Yorker Diner’.
It is set in an area which is practically the definition of Manchester. It’s on the same street as the Britannia hotel, which, despite its name and its grand exterior, has only been labelled a 3-star hotel. A horde of nightclubs and gay bars are situated on every corner, and if you walk five minutes in a straight line you will be passing under the majestic arch of Manchester’s Chinatown (does every city in the world have a Chinatown?!). Parking is scarce, or really expensive (I am staring at you, NCP. I have a massive beef with you. £7/hour in MANCHESTER?! Dirty piece of crap), and there are dubious goings on in the narrow streets behind the fancy main roads. Dolled up girls and dapper dudes, and sometimes dolled up dudes and dapper girls line the streets when the sun begins to set on a Saturday evening, laughing and drinking in readiness for a classic British night out with the lads and the girls and the both. Sometimes groups of women in a loudly stated ‘Hen’ huddle waddle and totter along, carrying massive blow-up male genitalia and declaring their nightly intentions with vivid pink sashes emblazoned across their fronts. Mottled-looking folk with extra large jackets trot nervously down dark alleyways and exchange goods behind filthy, overflowing bins. Groups of girls in hijab laugh and joke amongst themselves along the streets, as the night gets darker, and despite the strong smell of alcohol and weed and the dubiousness of the surroundings, one feels safe on the busy streets of Manchester. Everybody is out, everybody is intermingling.
The New Yorker Diner itself is designed to look like a cross between an underground bunker and an industrial site. You have to go down metal steps to be seated in an underground room, with naked retro bulbs dangling from wires which wrap around metal beams and line brick walls. Neon signs flash in the windows which are half covered on top by the ceiling, and you can watch people’s feetsies walk by. Very hipster indeed, but does look faux-grimy too, which, perhaps, is New Yorky? I wouldn’t know.
Anyway. I tell you I was retching all the way through the streets, passed the rubbish bins and plumes of weed smoke, holding my breath as I entered the restaurant. What if I couldn’t stand the smell? What would I do?
I took a tentative sniff and my goodness, I felt fine!
And when my burger arrived, handmade in a brioche bun with all the regular fixin’s; melty REAL cheese, sliced pickles, lettuce and tomato, and some beautiful sauce that was a little spicy and a lot I don’t know what, with a side of fries tossed in some kind of spice mix, and I took the first bite, I was transported, folks.
Transported and sublimed. I inhaled that burger, and those fries. Well, not the whole thing, I had the other half for breakfast the next day, but my GOODNESS.
I don’t know if it was because by that point I was half starved from being sick, so any food would taste like heaven exploded in my mouth, but man oh MAN I have been thinking of that meal ever since.
That SAUCE, what was it?? They call it ‘Brooklyn sauce’ but there is no indication of what might be in it. It is yellow, and very tasty, and so divine. It definitely isn’t mustard. Please, if you know, share your knowledge!
The basics of a good burger, I find, is to have a solid but tasty bun. The burger must be real meat, seasoned adequately and griddled to juicy perfection. The sauce must be hot, the lettuce fresh, the the tomato turgid. The pickles should be sliced generously, not too skinny that they flop flaccidly, and not too thick that they hinder the bite. And the cheese should be generous, yet not overpower the rest of the ingredients.
Also, New Yorker Diner? 10/10. No questions. You have to be comfy in a fast-foody-looking setting, though, because you order at the till and get one of those buzzy things that tells you when your food is cooked, and boy oh boy is it COOKED. Sizzling hot and melty and just divine. I am already planning my next sojourn there.
Exquisite, dainty layers.
A golden road, winding round and round, tucking into itself in a nest of warm dough.
Still, glistening, as the sun melts upon its surface.
Rising, gently, to the occasion.
Crisp, yet soft.
And rich enough that you only need one with your morning coffee.
Inspired by my 1am snack!
Here is another Friday, and another … failed week. I shall review Friday as opposed to anything else, because once again I have not finished anything of importance.
This week I intended to get up and leave the house by 5:30am in order to get to the gym for some intense spin classes, and incorporate a weight lifting workout, before work. I also intended to keep strictly to my proper healthy diet and not give in to overeating or anything that would wreak havoc on my digestive system. But oh, how alluring are those foods that wreak havoc on digestive systems!
I overslept three mornings out of five due to exhaustion. I tried to make it up on those three mornings by attending lunchtime gym classes. The first was a complete failure. I signed up for a Pilates class at my gym, and I spent an hour waving my legs in the air and yawning out of complete boredom. It did not challenge me at all and I kept thinking of the hour I could have spent doing a strenuous leg day! The second day I overslept, I tried to incorporate leg day during my lunch break, but time was my enemy and I only managed to do half of what I was supposed to. I pat myself on the back, however, because at least I DID something, no?
I truly failed when it came to my diet. At work, people love food. They love to bring in treats and desserts, and it is always someone’s birthday, or someone has returned from a Congress in another country and brought back goodies from said country, or someone brings in platters of cheese and crackers, or bowls of snacks because it’s their one year anniversary at work… the list goes on! And, try as I might to avoid it, I always manage to succumb. Always.
Added to that, I am sitting at my desk all day, and the 45min to an hour gym sessions I force myself to attend are not enough activity. So I am snacking all day with minimal movement, and I got on the scales this morning to see I have gained around 4 kilos since the beginning of October. I looked at my tummy and realised that the garish protrusion is not due to a bloat… who bloats in the morning after having skipped dinner last night?… it is due to fat deposits making themselves at home in my midsection. The worst part is, they are uninvited, ugly and don’t pay rent!
So today I am in a horrible slump. My week has tumbled down a rocky crevice and is lying at the bottom somewhere, in a crumpled heap. It is fine, but it has no energy to drag itself up and its heart hurts.
You see, I was reading Anne of Avonlea through to Anne of Ingleside this week. The years of Anne’s blossoming into adulthood, taking her stunning imagination with her, and also the burgeoning romance she has with Gilbert, and the beautiful family they produce.
Ah, Gilbert. How I always yearned for a Gilbert. Gilbert is handsome, reliable, ambitious but aware of his own limits and those of the world around him. Gilbert is worldly, but also a kindred spirit. Gilbert loves Anne relentlessly, wholly, truly, fully, and has always loved her. Gilbert has no eyes and heart for anybody but Anne, and he revels in her words and thoughts and takes active part in her musings and her worlds. Gilbert says he didn’t notice a ‘very beautiful woman’ because his eyes are only on his wife.
What a lie. No man would not notice a very beautiful woman. Some men notice them too much.
And, you see, when I first got married, I too thought I had a Gilbert. Sometimes I still do think so. But rereading these books again after a good nine years, I realised that Gilbert is as real as a blue moon. As passing as a little baby spider floating on a gossamer thread in the spring wind.
This week, I feel as if it is going to shambles.
I feel misunderstood. I feel ignored. I feel as though barriers have been put up to me, and while it might be partly due to my own attitude, I feel like no real effort is being made to truly understand me. I feel like I am the one trying to do the understanding, and nothing is being done to try to understand or appreciate my thoughts and needs.
I feel neglected.
I feel halved.
I feel sore and missing.
I wrote an ode to Friday, some time back, and today, Friday has done me no wrong, but I don’t feel happy in her warm embrace. She is still comforting, however. She gently reminds me of rest to come, warmth and tea. She reminds me I will be seeing my family soon, and that I have two glorious days in which to take care of myself. She also reminds me bitterly that I will not be able to take much time out for self care during these two days, but adds that some time is better than no time.
Marriage is hard. Sacrifices have to be made, and I want to make them, but my heart hurts when I think that perhaps, maybe, sacrifices don’t want to be made for me?
Oh. I’m feeling blue.
Here is a statement.
Cake is inspirational.
I say this as I lick the last remnants of the strangest and perhaps the most delicious cake I have ever eaten from my lips.
It was small, and arrived in a box. It was coated in a soft, luxurious film of glossy chocolate, and on top lay five single curls of the same, arranged to deceive my eyes. When the sharp knife slid down right into its core, and a small slice was gently pulled out of the whole, a golden brown substance oozed from the middle.
Once on my place, a cup of cinnamon and apple tea steaming beside me, I examined it. It was very brown, and I realised the little moist smudges within the cakey texture were dates. A date cake, then, coated with chocolate and filled with…?
I let my fork sink into the cake, taking a sizeable chunk along with some of the golden cream, and closed my lips over it.
An explosion in my mouth. Sweetness, solid cake, my mouth enriched.
First the dates. Not bad at all. Then the chocolate. Finally, swirling its fingers over my tongue, caressing my tastebuds, a surge of.. salted caramel?!
What an odd combination of flavours, but how well they worked together.
Immediately the exhaustion evaporated, I settled back to really enjoy this slice. Immediately my brain fizzled into action. I no longer felt lethargic. I washed my cake down with the deep warm cinnamon tea, the perfect balance to the overwhelming sweetness of cake.
The perfect high note to a day filled with lows.
I woke up ravenous today.
I wanted to eat,
everything in sight.
A mango was not enough for me.
I had to follow it up with a bowl of grapes.
Then I wolfed down an entire punnet of strawberries,
Craving the sugar,
but barely tasting it.
I was hungry, still.
So I went to the kitchen in search of more food.
There was nothing in the cupboards, and the fridge was empty
save for a wilted celery stick.
I scarfed that in a moment.
Then I sat down,
to think about
why the cave inside my stomach
could not be filled.
And as I thought, my throat constricted,
my lungs felt tight,
and I wanted to gasp for breath.
The knot in my chest loosened a little,
when some tears
rolled down my face.
And I realised,
that all this time,
I was not hungry,
I was just sad.