Updated: Jun 24
“I appear to be running an ‘all-inclusive resort,” remarked my witty cousin, ground-down by relentless demands of constant home-feeding.
Normally a ‘Suzy-homemaker’ champion of the self-made meal, three months of feeding the masses has driven even the most committed parent to seek an alternative: “I never thought I’d see the day when Harry (son) and I would queue for 20 minutes in the car for a Big Mac,” noted the Sussex-based mum, but “anything for a change!”
I’m not sure I’d have truly appreciated this call to arms BC (before children). But now, now, I’m definitely in harness.
Cooking’s always been a passion, rarely a necessary evil. Creating taste sensations for the pleasure of others was, in the main, an unrivalled positive.
BC, meal planning would start several days before the big event. A flick through the recipe book de rigueur preceded the Waitrose saunter, inspiration gleaned from promised offers and glistening posters of happy, shiny people who quelled any doubts you might have about that super-priced aubergine.
Delighting in the foraging of suitable ingredients, I would emerge thrilled with my cache and eager to create.
Once home, soothing music was ignited, an accompanying glass of wine poured. We were off along the road of a culinary crusade.
Did that really happen? Surely this was somebody else masquerading as me in a (slimmer) body?!
Lockdown life has produced a plethora of changes and ‘The curse of the lunch’, with its supporting cast of comfort eaters, hangs near the top of my worst-sellers hit-list.
Pre March, weekly life was punctuated with school dinners; packed lunches (OK, I know you had to be involved, but preparation was factory-style at a moment of self-serving, not that of the consumers’); a trip to the ice-cream parlour perhaps; weekend dinners at the houses of friends; Sunday lunch with family; coffee with a walking pal; mid-week supper with a contact.
In short, someone else taking the catering strain.
Current life demands the kitchen be on perma-drive, a revolving door of preparation and consolidation; the consumption ‘altar’ at which all but myself now worship.
Last weekend, for twenty blissful minutes, the dishwasher stood empty. Eying one-another suspiciously – me, reminding myself what the back of it looked like; it, a gleaming maw offering acceptance of its inevitable Denby Imperial Blue load – I actually found myself sympathising with the trusty machine, duly administering a thorough anti-bac cleaning, salt and Rinse Aid top-up as a guilty antidote to its non-union supported workload.
Far from being a pleasure, food has become the cross we all must bear.
I go to bed worrying about the next day’s requirements and gaps in available foodstuffs. Wake to thoughts of beef stews and Bolognese that can be eked-out over two (or, better still, more) days. Chickens that morph from curries to soups in the same pan.
Step forward baking. Recently assuming Saint-like status and released from the confines of early pandemic flour-dearth, this now takes centre stage on our work-bench of life.
But there’s always a fly in the vanilla essence isn’t there. Bridget Jones’ classic quote, “It’s a universally acknowledged fact that if one area of your life starts going well there’s a reciprocal downside to endure,” being the perfect encapsulation.
In a cruel twist of reverse psychology, the deliciously buttery pastime delivers large on the satisfaction rating, rekindling the love-in so lacking in current kitchen life, while simultaneously, and cruelly, whipping you with calorie overload.
So, by necessity, we find ourselves back to the multiple, dull, daily walks so beloved of early lockdown life.
Of course, this means a greater absence from the kitchen, less time to feed the masses, equating to more stress and an enhanced need to bake to forget.
All aboard the gravy-train everyone. You bet.
May I suggest an elastic waistband madam?
15 June 2020