I’m in a much more cheerful mood this week. The reason? Food! Specifically, my sister, Judie’s, little cheese and chilli biscuits. Completely delicious to nibble with a glass of wine. I have no idea how she makes them, but I hope she doesn’t lose the will to do so. She’s been shielding, hasn’t been out of the house for months now. Which is good for the cheese biscuit production line, but extremely difficult for her. I really take my hat off to all the millions of people living alone who have endured such an extended period of solitude so stoically. There may be tensions being holed up with potentially irritating spouses and even more annoying kids, but the thought of being totally on my own day after day, month after month, is terrifying. I think this dotty government should hand out prizes when this is all over. (I might get Marcus – or Daniel, as Hancock likes to call him – onto it. He seems to be the only one around here that gets things done.)
I’m sure you’ve all got them, those food moments in your life when something tastes magical, just absolutely right? No good trying to replicate it – like that blissful Italian holiday back in 1976 when nobody argued – because it was probably as much to do with where you were in your life, your hunger levels, the air, the company, as the food itself. One of mine is what we dubbed ‘killer pie’ in a Lake District tea shop – banoffee with an acre of cream on top, by any other name. Another is lamb chops and chips in a deserted mountain café in Crete with the cook and the owner having a domestic in the background. Another is my school friend’s mum’s cauliflower cheese… which she said, many years later, for sure was out of a packet, because her mum couldn’t cook. And my own mum’s fish pie.
I’ve been lucky in lockdown, foodwise. My neighbour got bored and baked these delicious cakes, kindly leaving 2 slices on the doorstep for us. We found a farm shop with asparagus – for which, I’m proud to say, I made hollandaise sauce (the first attempt did turn into scrambled egg, admittedly, but Jamie Oliver saved the day). And tonight I’m watching a Zoom demonstration with my cousin Mark, (www.cookingexperience.co.uk) who is going to attempt to teach me how to make risotto. Good luck to him, I say. I only tried to make it once and it was bullets-and-sludge, more suitable for sealing a wall – not that I know anything about sealing a wall, either, of course. So cheers to everyone out there improving my eating experience on so many levels. You are all much appreciated.