food

I Am So Angry I Shall Have To Have Sausages For Breakfast

This utterance from my good self sprang forth during a moderately tepid online conversation this morning and, indeed, having typed these immortal words I at once threw down my phone and marched to the kitchen to get some sausages out of the fridge. Being so incredibly British, I am not especially comfortable with either dealing with or expressing emotion that extends much beyond ‘I’m very well, thank you’ and rely heavily on food and drink to handle unexpected sensibilities. 

Sausages are a good failsafe food for all manner of things. They are appropriate at any time of the day or night and cover such diverse applications as the humble sausage sandwich to elaborate casseroles, toad in the hole to the mighty bangers and mash (with onion gravy). My personal favourites are the magnificent Newmarket sausages, but I tell you – there’s absolute nothing wrong with a Richmond, either. (Other brands of sausage are available). 

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And as I devoured with some ferocity my breakfast sausages, I began to think about all the times I turn to food in place of actually just expressing anything close to what would be described as ‘feelings’. The following is far from definitive and variants on the theme are of course influenced by availability of time and supplies, but this is a passable example of my menu of maladies…

Over The Moon – Steak and chips, with a huge salad and variety of condiments. And that pepper with all different coloured bits in. Whether there is something to celebrate or everything is just great for no real reason at all, nothing says utter delight like steak and chips. Sometimes I like an egg on my steak, sometimes cheese (a spicy cheese, if possible). I don’t mind if the chips are skinny or built like railway sleepers, but they must be crisp and piping hot.

Very Chirpy – Ideally I will have the time and energy to make a lovely curry from scratch and spend several happy hours doing so. The only problem with this is that the joy of making the curry is in danger of tipping me over the edge to ‘over the moon’ and then I want steak and chips. I see no reason why one cannot have both.

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Delighted – Why, it can only be a traditional roast dinner! Whilst best enjoyed on a Sunday (when not playing cricket), a roast dinner is perfect any day of the week. For mid-week delightedness, a roast chicken dinner is wonderful. But nothing beats really pushing the boat out with, perhaps, slow-cooked beef or lamb, accompanied by crispy roasties (cooked in goose fat, if we’re really making a thing of it), honey glazed carrots and parsnips, asparagus in butter and the humble garden pea, gently steamed. Yorkshire puddings are an absolute must and, if you can bear it, chuck some of your lovely red wine into the gravy. I could go on all day about roast dinners and the endless varieties, but the most important thing is to get everyone you can find around your table and have a few bottles of the good stuff close to hand.

Happy – All of the food, all of the time. This is my default setting both in temperament and appetite, a fact for which I am very grateful. When I am consuming everything with gusto, I know that all is right with the world.

Subdued – When not exactly unhappy, but not quite full of the joys of spring, I turn to comforting and easy to construct food such as cottage pie or spaghetti bolognese. Levels of onion and garlic in both dishes can be adjusted according to the mood of the moment and there is excellent cheese potential here as well. It is good to make a huge version of either and then I feel comforted in the fact that there is now a lot of nice food at my immediate disposal. 

A Bit Fed Up – Cheese on toast or pancakes, if possible made by someone else – if not possible, then made while tutting a bit and sighing occasionally. Actually, I’m not fed up at all, but now I’ve written ‘pancakes’ I really fancy some.

Grumpy – This is not a good state of affairs as I have the tendency to be rather unreasonable when I am grumpy. The only recourse under grumpy circumstances is something like an all-you-can-eat Chinese, or tapas or a sampling menu. Lots of different flavours, textures and aromas are required to distract me from my hump and remind me what is really important in life – which would be eating, obviously.

Sad – Oh dear – this doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I find it best to treat it with the same regard as ‘happy’ – all of the food, all of the time. That way, I fool myself into thinking I’m happy and – voila! – happiness descends once more.

Absolutely Furious – If I am especially volatile then it doesn’t really matter what I eat, but I would advise feeding me very quickly as the source of my fury is likely to be because I am hungry.

Smug – Crispy duck breast with plum sauce, horseradish mash and steamed green beans. I don’t know why, but this is my go-to dish when feeling particularly pleased with myself.

Love (unrequited) – Pies are the best way to deal with all kinds of heartbreak and romantic disappointment. I favour a sturdy beef and ale over something lacklustre such as chicken and mushroom, personally, but whatever pie it is, it must be a proper pie with pastry all the way around – not just a stew with a top on it. Shortcrust pastry, at that – save the puffy stuff for desserts and buffet food.

Love (requited) – Mostly eating absolutely nothing at all, or if I do, it is healthy and lean, just in case the object of my affection wants to see me in the nude. Once the first flush of anxiety-inducing  emotion is out of my system, I default back to delighted, very chirpy and over the moon. Because love is wonderful and should be celebrated with food. Except when it isn’t, and then grumpy and absolutely furious are both perfectly acceptable.

Important To Note – Remember that there is nothing that cannot be achieved when starting the day with a fine Full English Breakfast and a healthy supply of tea and cake throughout the day will overcome all challenges and obstacles. The only thing that can ever hold you back is hunger itself.

By the way, ignoring all your emotions is ridiculous and dangerous but some of us find it very difficult to quantify our own internal workings. I know I do and I’m a bloody writer for goodness’ sake! The best thing to do is have a friend at the end of your phone who is equally inept and will not baulk at messages or phone calls that begin ‘I am sad/angry/frightened for some reason and I want you to know’. I cannot tell you how invaluable this is. Thank you, emotionally inept friends, you know who you are.

A Little Bit Of What You Fancy

My Nan always says ‘A little bit of what you fancy does you good’. Mind you, she also says that you should put salt on slugs and sit back and watch them fizzle, but let’s not get into that. Her mantra extolling the benefits of self-indulgence from time to time is one upon which I have been musing ever more frequently. I know I do tend to bang on about the importance of working hard and making an effort but, well, a girl is only human, after all.

I can tell you right now what I don’t fancy. I don’t fancy sitting for endless hours at my laptop, surrounded by notes and paperwork and emails, wrestling with prose that becomes drier by the minute and politely arguing for weeks on end about what three words will grace the cover of my collected works, while outside the sun shines and Pimms is poured within punts that glide down the River Cam. No. I don’t much fancy that at all.

So bugger it, I’m not going to do it.

Books and work can wait a while as I seek out Pimms and punts and adventure. I shall visit my friends, who have surely forgotten what I look like by now, and descend upon family and eat all their food while wearing my best clothes and fanciest shoes. I shall hold my special ones in my arms and tell them I love them. I shall play cricket – quite a lot of cricket, actually. By Sunday I will have managed three matches in a week.

 

Because life is too short.

And a little bit of what you fancy does you good.

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Please note – if you are my publisher or an esteemed colleague from Middlesex University – Haha only joking! I’m working really hard on everything, honest.

Disproportionate Responses

I am not an overly emotional person, for the most part. My British upper lip is as stiff as my over-ironed collars and I often display a polite disinterest in the face of over-wrought outbursts from all but my very nearest and dearest. There is little that inspires such excitement that it must be displayed outwardly. Except, of course, for food. I find food ridiculously exciting. Someone who knows me well gave me a thoughtful gift that represents my entire emotional range in coaster form…

Over the years, I have spent more time thinking about food than I have my lovers and found it to be a greater source of jealousy, too. I have forgotten the names of many such lovers, yet remember with fond affection a leg of lamb I cooked one summer five years ago. I am protective of food, obsessed with and even a little aroused by it. My response towards food is disproportionate. 

Bad grammar makes me a little twitchy, too. Incorrect usage of ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ inspire violent thoughts. Ending a sentence on a preposition is likely to invoke feelings of incredible discomfort, even though I realise this is now a largely outdated transgression and it often produces an unnatural word pattern. I don’t care how awkward I have to make that sentence – over my dead body is it going to end in a preposition. Just recently, a very disproportionate response to a preposition languishing at the end of a sentence was produced from the seemingly innocuous activity of listening to music.

Now, I have written music and lyrics. Even I do not think the medium of song is an appropriate place to be applying the stringent rules of language and grammar. That would be ridiculous. But, even taking into consideration the need for artistic license, I was thrown into a fit of fury by one particular song.

Whilst searching for something on an old laptop, I became distracted by a long-forgotten music library which contained, among other things, Use Your Illusion 1 by Guns N’ Roses (the ‘N’ being fairly irritating when surely an ampersand would not only do, but would be more aesthetically pleasing). I used to be a big fan of Guns N’ Roses and other bands of that ilk and for old times’ sake I hit play. The whiney, nasal vocals of lead singer Axl Rose were more annoying than I remembered, but nonetheless, it evoked dazzling memories from those glorious, cider-soaked summers of my youth when I rode motorbikes and had unsuitable boyfriends, so I let it play on.

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Rock & Roll

Then came one of my favourites – Live And Let Die. Overlooking the fact it was written by Linda & Paul McCartney (my least favourite of The Beatles, one of my least favourite bands), this is a pretty good song. And Guns N’ Roses do a stirring version. Which makes why I haven’t noticed the offending lyric before even more mystifying. Especially as I always sing along, as is my wont. The lyrics run thus…

When you were young and your heart
Was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(You know you did)
(You know you did)              sing these bits in a super high voice!
(You know you did)
But if this ever changin’ world
In which we live in
Makes you give in and cry
Say live and let die
Live and let die
What did it matter to ya
When you got a job to do you got to do it well
You got to give the other fella hell
You used to say live and let live
(You know you did)
(You know you did)       yeah! sing the harmonies too!
(You know you did)
But if this ever changin’ world
In which we live in
Makes you give in and cry
Say live and let die
Live and let die

 

Let me draw your attention to the line that follows ‘But in this ever changin’ world’. Yes that one. Now, alright, it ends with a preposition – that is annoying. But it’s a song, so… maybe it’s okay. What really isn’t okay is where those bloody McCartneys have actually set up the line in such a way that no preposition is needed on the end… BUT THEY PUT ONE ON THERE ANYWAY!! THE BASTARDS!!

I suppose you could argue that it is essential for the integrity of the melody but I would argue right back at you, sir, that BOTH ‘ins’ are not necessary at all! It would be perfectly simple to drop the first ‘in’ by replacing it with a breath between ‘world’ and ‘which’. I agree that dropping the last ‘in’ and extending the ‘live’ (‘li-ive!) doesn’t sound quite as good, but it could be done. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED FOR BOTH OF THOSE INS!! Who would fool their audience into thinking they could relax and enjoy a well constructed sentence, only to shatter the hideous pretence only seconds later?! That, ladies and gentlemen, is what Paul McCartney thinks of you and I, the music-loving public. Bastard.

Anyway. This revelation has now ruined the song for me, but not only that – it has ruined the previously-loved Bond film of the same name, starring the immaculate Roger Moore and his performing eyebrow. Part of my life is destroyed forever, a ruinous mire of what it once was. And I am so very, very cross about it.

Disproportionate response? In this case I think, no. Fully justified.