Firstly I’m pleased to report that a careful week of recuperation and rest leaves me in much better fettle than just seven days ago. More treatment due in next few weeks so I’ll just enjoy it whilst it lasts. The calmer, warmer and even sunnier weather no doubt helps.
Those who know me well know how much food has featured in my life. I have always enjoyed my food and thus have been rewarded with my ample figure. Food for me has been such a source of happiness on so many levels. Firstly I have enjoyed being a cook both for dinner parties and when I was for larger gatherings catering for 50-100 at the Cricket club. Two memories stand out. Firstly the millennium year we had a party to bring in the new millennium and I catered for around 60. I asked people to pre-order to make preparation easier and everyone did. On the night one of the dishes a sumptuous Venison in Guinness casserole was proving popular and it became clear that the chicken eaters were ordering the casserole. Luckily I had always over-catered and on this occasion this proved helpful no-one was let down. Finished by 10 pm I could enjoy the evening and watch the fireworks at midnight.
The second big cook I recall was two years on preparing for 100+ people coming to my 50th and I was trying to get friends and family organised to help me prepare. It was at the cricket club again. Now people being helpful is one thing. People who want to help by making helpful but largely irritating suggestions are another matter. I knew how to cater and what I wanted doing. I was becoming frustrated by the ‘suggestions’ from everyone who knew better.
‘you know you wanted these tomatoes chopped this way would it not be better to do them in this way and then add onions on top rather than try and put them inbetween’
‘not sure that blue cheese, walnuts and pears go together’
‘these chicken legs need doing on a higher heat than that’
‘do you really want to do chips – why not just do potatoes easier to cook’
And so on and so on. My elder brother was observing this and noticed my rising frustration. He recognised a fuse was about to blow. He went over to my friends and whispered something to them. A few minutes later they left the small and over crowded and overheating kitchen. He shut the door.
‘right tell me what needs doing. Just give me a breakdown of what you want and I will do it’
Harmony was restored and I was left free to create the buffet I wanted. It was my fiftieth and I was going to do it my way. Somehow he understood and we merrily spent the next three hours, chopping, slicing, plating, arranging, heating, cooking and presenting a buffet fit for such a party. I swear that was the greatest moment of brotherly love I had ever received from my elder brother.
Small dinner parties have always been wonderful occasions too whether preparing and giving or receiving. Good food, good company, relaxed conversation is rarely beatable. Sometimes the meals are not as good as you want but most of the time your friends take it in their stride and we just enjoy the evening together. I treasure all these occasions, for me it feels like a great way to spend an evening with friends or family.
Of course as we became richer going out for meals became more than seeking a cheap curry at the end of the night and the enjoyment of eating at good restaurants is something which has become increasingly a feature of my life. Only a few weeks ago I had a celebratory meal with my two children recognising six years of survival when we always return to the same restaurant as a reminder, you cannot beat evenings like that.
Given my history with food it is frustrating to record that I now struggle both with the giving of food and, perhaps more alarming, the enjoyment of food. It has been one of the more unnoticed aspects of the last six years. I think fatigue makes the preparation of food a little daunting particularly catering for a dinner party. Planning has to be different and usually involves thinking of dishes which I can prepare in advance so I can relax in the evening when I am more likely to be tired. But the motivation to cook when someone is coming is very different than when I am on my own.
I am sure others understand this but cooking for one, particularly if you are fatigued, is a dispiriting thing to do. To cook good food involves detailed preparation and to make for one feels like you want to get it over quickly. I have had a lot of salmon, new potatoes and peas over the last few years, ok to eat but a bit repetitive. But now cooking at all in the evening has become a chore and combined with a growing disinterest in food I can end up with beans on toast on too many occasions though I do like beans!
I don’t know if it’s a solution but recently I started to order one of these ingredient delivery companies. I discovered one which will cater for one, I only have to order minimum three meals a week or can miss entirely and it is ecologically sound company and low carb food. The food comes packaged in a brown bag and contains everything you need. There is seven steps to cooking it and in average 30 minutes cooking time. The food is good quality and it ensures I get a decent meal. There is no waste which make an average £8 per meal much better than throwing away lots of unused ingredients. See pics below of some of my efforts. I use Mindful Chef.
I still like eating out and really enjoy those occasions with friends and family. I do not have the appetite I had and select less challenging food but I think the occasion helps the eating. I hope my enjoyment of eating food does come back, even if I have to eat out or let friends and family cook. It is one of life’s joys and as a social interaction is great. I can only hope my love of food returns, I am trying.
My week in photos