Monday, 25 July 2016

How things taste

When I was lying in bed feeling like I'd already died a couple of months ago, my publisher friend curated me a 'playlist' of books that I'd enjoy. She'd carefully ordered it to balance heartwarming with cutting satire and the first on the list was Tuesday Nights in 1980. The author captures a dynamic / person pitch perfectly by describing what they taste like (hard to explain - read it). So with Molly Prentiss fresh on my mind, I thought I'd do the reverse: describing the taste of food with the feelings.

B Street Deli's jacket potato followed by afters of cheese and grapes four weeks later: change, bravery, excitement, and finally doing something constructive with all those middle class 'the world is a shit place' feels you feel.

The shepherd's pie at the Skylight Cafe: doing something for yourself, not being flitty, attempting to make your grandmother proud, and trying to make something of your ideas / yourself because you can see a future.

The roasted summer vegetables (aubergines, red onion, peppers) with a summery dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, chickpeas, coriander, sultanas, walnuts) on cous cous that you can finally not-drown (Ottolenghi) tastes of calm, fulfilment, lightness, and finally feeling whole enough that you don't need to explain yourself online anymore. Oh, and being able to cook, obv.

That's all, folks xxx

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Recipe - Lots of Vegetables and Beans in a Stew

Something of a confession to make: the fog hadn't really lifted. I thought it had but I spoke too soon and maybe in my head was thinking I'm definitely still gonna die before the year is out even if it's a time when no one is expecting it. (Yeah that feels very mental to write down now.) Anyway, luckily the meds *actually* kicked in I think sometime in Amsterdam while having a very mind bendy 'what is hair / what is time / what is gender / maybe this is all in my mind' time. Anyway, whichever drug it was, it worked! I remember in January / February at some point describing everything as feeling very colourful. When there are some positive effects that go with being quite clever and very sad, it is easy to pretend to yourself that makes it ok. Yeah, probably the good things aren't as 'vivid and acute' now but they're still pretty fuckin bright. Opposite of depressed happiness is wading through  a desert and filling up on sweet nectar on your hands and knees straight from the oasis. Now, it's having running water in your house. Less exciting to drink from a glass but at least you know there will always be water. Hey, I'm pretty pleased with that metaphor! Anyway, for my diet, the side effect is not either eating gross junk food because IRDGAF but still eating. Look!
Ok so for this, two sliced onions, four cloves of garlic and two red chillies fried in olive oil until translucent. Add two courgettes, three peppers, two aubergines chopped into chunky pieces and around 300g cherry tomatoes halved. Turn up the heat, add two bay leaves, a tsp of dried thyme, a tbsp of dried oregano , a tbsp of tomato purée and 250ml wine. After about 3 mins, add a can of drained cannellini beans and turn the heat down to a simmer. Add a large handful of parsley and coriander, finely chopped at the end.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Review - De Aarige Pars, Kantjil & De Tijgre, Foodware

With the return of my appetite came a real craving for salty, meaty fast food. Not really clear to me whether I’ve been eating like there is no tomorrow because I haven't *really* accepted that there will be a tomorrow and therefore IDGAF about things such as the environmental impact of eating meat, my health or my weight. A more charitable view of eating meals such as two potato waffles with vanilla ice cream is that I'm uncomplicated about food. I guess it's the kind of thing you don't appreciate if you have but would miss if it was gone. The only type of food shame I get is the ‘is this how an adult really feeds themselves?’ kind, and even then not strongly enough to avoid buying things as spaghetti hoops and Viennese whirls every time I'm in the shops. Anyway, my pre-holiday diet included: a fillet o fish, 12 chicken nuggets, a 2l tub of vanilla ice cream, eight potato waffles, 12 Linda McCartney vegetarian sausages (vain attempt at getting my avoid meat in week rule to kick in), an Indian takeaway (inc meat), KFC, a Morley’s inc weird coleslaw of mysterious origin, two unexpected BBQs and four chocolate bars (haven't bought a chocolate bar since 2014 maybe).

Thinking about it, my holiday diet was much healthier. Very cheap and informal Persian food from De Aarige Pers including an aubergine thing which beat that of Silk Road. Incredibly well planned / timed Indonesian rijsttafel from Kantjil & De Tijgre.
Vibrantly coloured and incredibly flavoured dishes served in neatly designed Foodware by a man I briefly thought I might try and seduce / move in with in the hour before heading to the airport. 

Monday, 4 July 2016

Review - Asian Takeaway, Le Garrick

While I recognise that it's far more likely that the pills have kicked in than Glastonbury has cured all my ills, the coincidence has helped to romanticise. It is really great to not cancel plans constantly and waste many hours staring listlessly unable to read and do basic chores like laundry. It is really, really relieving to not constantly think about ineffectual ways of dying triggered by eg open windows (would just break some bones) and walking by canals (I'm not that bad at swimming). Probably most relieving is for the first time in maybe two years not constantly obsessing about whatever thing I've assumed has been making me unhappy (not having a job, boyfriend A, obsessive rebound, job, boyfriend B, having no direction) when the biggest contributing factor has most likely been a chemical imbalance. And I can eat again! While it's been some consolation being the most thin I've been as an adult, it is much better having the desire and energy to eat again, particularly since I was taken out for a birthday steak. Look at the onion soup!
Le Garrick
Second best steak I've had, second best creme brulee, second best onion soup. Very atmospheric, really sweet but not over the top service. Much tastier and better value than Hawksmoor (where birthday tradition began), frankly. 

Asian Takeaway
Appetite sustained itself all through the week! I finally managed to find the hole in the wall where Asian Takeway in Peckham lives. Not quite Curry 2000, but willing to give it another go and get a wrap.

Monday, 27 June 2016

On Glastonbury and Brexit

Some thoughts on Glastonbury and Brexit

- Don't care about the 11 hour journey or the terrible backpack induced shoulder pain or the mud. It's as great as everyone makes out

- Feel sad that the country I've loved and lived in for 21 years is becoming increasingly unwelcoming to foreigners 

- Feel sad that the core values I associate with Britishness as a first gen immigrant - acceptance, (comparative) liberalism and freedom - have been proved overly optimistic

- Feel sad that so many people feel disaffected enough to understandably, if in my opinion mistakenly, to think so differently from me on this

- Feel elitist that it's very easy for me to think and behave the way I do because I really have no understanding of true hardship

- Feel ungrateful that I don't appreciate how lucky I am

- Feel euphoric having a perfect moment at Ezra Furman playing Haunted Head - 'I was born this way I'll die the way' - enough to make me want to be alive now and for every year just to have more moments like this 

- Feel incredibly lucky to have such great friends and so many of them

- Feel selfish that I have been and can be so depressed to not even care that they care

- Feel at the same time both incredibly pleased with self and incredibly 16 year old embarrassed for slipping over so much in the mud that I waded through barefoot and alone from SE corner to the Park (ouch) 

- Feel guilty for being such hard work

- Feel churlish for having been unable to appreciate 3.5 years of unmitigated kindness and pleased I made a friend

- Feel clean and really great to being naked in company. Hooray for communal showers 

- Feel really, really bleak at the thought that this wonderful respite is soon to be over 

- Feel like I want to be over, and how incredibly painful it is to simultaneously not want to be here but feel that it would be such a shame to go

- Really, really just want my thoughts to stop. Exhausted 

- Feel better. Sigh 

- Feel the same thrill as at a high quality Netflix series as I do re: post Brexit developments 

- Feel nervous when remember that it is real life

- Feel like should avoid thinking about real life while I can - the unforgiving nature of the electorate doesn't need to be another thing to feel more detached about 

- Feel like I would be PJ Harvey if I was a musician 

- Consider how I will pack and party differently next year 

- Consider whether thinking so far into the future is a sign it's getting better or is me playing pretend like I'll have a normal and existent life in a year

- Feel like a princess not knowing how to take a tent down

- Feel sleepy 
What Ari ate this week
4 cereal bars
6 clementines
Delicious curry goat
A warning and restorative cup of 'can't believe I waded through mud chai'
Trippy pie and mash 
A few bites of a 'I'm very grateful for all you do and want to reaffirm that I don't expect it' lobster roll 
A really gritty but delicious pork roll

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Recipe - Smoked Mackerel Pate

So when I was all 'each time it gets easier' re career fails and break ups and al that jazz - I stand by that, it does. But I rather over egged how chipper and optimistic I sounded about it. It's true that I wasn't feeling particularly miserable about either of those things but, less promisingly, the reason for that is all my energy was going into kick starting my will to live gene. Really hard to care about corporeal sadnesses when you're contending with the dull ache of the 'I just can't' feeling. The two are linked, but more in that when you feel like you just can't, a weird self preservation kicks in where you're aware that the risk imposed by regular sadness is too great so you make much better long term decisions. It's hard to stomach both not wanting to wake up and not wanting to go to work in the morning so it's easier to quit. But then, as the fog starts to lift, the regular sadnesses hit you in a very boring way because you were maybe hoping that had got swept away rather than just delayed. SO BORING. But, with feeling regular person sad, you also remember a capacity for feeling regular person happy too: I quit my job hooray // I'm going to Glastonbury // these new boots are perfect for outrageous flirting w Crate staff all summer. I even managed to cook fish pate twice this week (better than the photograph below looks) which now I think about it is really just like savoury fishy yoghurt.
Smoked mackerel pate (barely a recipe)
200g smoked mackerel, skin and bones removed
120ml creme fraiche
50g Philadelphia
1 tsp creamed horseradish
Handful of dill, finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Black pepper

Pulse everything to the dill together until an almost smooth consistency (or however coarse you like it). Add the lemon, pepper and dill. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

What I ate the week following my birthday

Project managing is a skill in every context, including when applied to your life. It's all about timing things to mitigate damage. As an adult, it's quite tricky to find a few weeks to be incapacitated even if the long term gain of a mental reboot is well worth it. But it's all about calculating the right time: if you're stable enough to quit your job, you've got the mental wherewithal to avoid falling off a precipice (both literally and figuratively). Still, there are some functions you've got to keep going, so here's a guide to keeping it together when you are too old to let things fall apart:

1. Don't bother trying to put game face on. No point

2. Wear dresses. Fewest arm movements required to put on. Also, no need for bra

3. Make plans (it is easier to move if you have a reason to move)
(Be upfront with your pals that you will probably cancel your plans)

4. Use pockets of energy to respond to texts because it is not nice to worry your friends 

5. Track when in the day you have energy and pounce at those times to do things like wash and drink water. Take some pleasure in the fact that things which usually come so naturally (good housekeeping, seeming like you're competent) can go to hell so that in a few weeks when your capacity is back you won't stress about them 

6. Keep your friends close, keep the freelancers closer

7. Buy yoghurt so that when chewing seems unsustainable you get calories from somewhere 

8. Avoid the tube. Jesus

9. Work remotely and cultivate an excellent telephone voice so no one can see the Miss Havisham look you're rocking most days

10. Go dancing, but don't get fucked up. Don't need to if the music is nice enough and it's a mode of socialising where you can legitimately be silent and kind of on your own

What I ate this week
Yoghurt and jam x5 - like an incredibly delicious Muller corner
Birthday cake - egg free and fuckin' delicious
Leftover birthday potatoes with a fennel, crumb and olive topping - really not my best work
Tuna pasta - surprisingly, probably the best I've managed to make ever
Half of a Wetherspoons chilli dog meal shared with your daytime carer - a highlight
A breakfast that you organised but then all your friends bought the things for and cooked - delicious, with a special shout out to the slow scrambled eggs, and also thank you for bringing so much yoghurt
Jerk chicken by White Men Can't Jerk - good, but not great
A birthday meal cooked by your soulmate, even though all week you've behaved like an ungrateful churl - haven't even eaten it yet but can already promise it's the best ever