I think everyone has a secret and sometimes not so secret pleasure.
Mine is Eating. I love to eat.... I love the taste of pretty much anything and eveything... I love the new experiences, the old ones, the refreshers, the good, the bad, the rough, the smooth, the wet and the dry.
Many people that I know and indeed perhaps some clients of mine would tell you "Rachel just loves to cook", "Rachel is happiest in the kitchen", "Rachel is clearly driven by recipes and cooking". In some ways they are not wrong... there are always several ways of looking at things, this is society, this is how we roll and as for all people, I have clients that really know me and I have clients that I really know - rarely do the two meet.
The reality is that I love to eat - I love to dine out and I adore being cooked for - whatever it is, no matter how grand or how simple..... food is always a present, its exciting and a surprise. Following a recipe once is fun because the result is a surprise... the whole process is an adventure and it should be interesting and exciting. What I hate is bad food, careless cooking and a absence of immagination. The surpression of ingredients. What really find abhorent is a lack of surprise, the mundane and the "beige", beige taste. Yuk! This is what dragged me into the kitchen......
Many Chefss will tell you that they were drawn to food, that they have been obsessed by food for their entire lives, that their mother was an amzing cook and that they have fond childhood memories of wafting fresh bread, chicken roasts and their Mum's 'special gravy'.
They will then go on to tell you that they were naughty children who didn't like school - that their father was a monster and that they struggled with discipline or that they 'weren't very academic' or that they saw a way out of their environment....or another similar such story..... you get the vibe.
I fell into cooking and despite this being my full time profession for the last ten years, I never feel established, not only because I am poor financially but I still feel 'undecided' and under established within in my cooking repatoire.
Everything still feels new and fresh and like a brand new challenge. What to decide to cook, how to make the dish, will the client like it? Where shall ige tthe ingredients from....how can I impress.... or simply try to please.....???
I guess this means that I still enjoy my work and as the old Confucious quote goes "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life". I did not actually choose cooking... it sort of chose me......And it still does.... every long single day. I wish I could do something easier, I wish I could follow a more conventional path and I wish that I could conform to a different way of life. But I cant. I am addicted to the pressure, the burden for flavour, the relentless chasing of creativity, the travel and the praise. Each time has to be better than the last and always different from the last.
Now, here in lockdown, I realise how much I miss my career, my vocation, my purpose and I know I am not alone. 'Cooks' cook for the sake of it.....'Chefs' cook for the excitement of the adventure and every, single, dish is a brand new trip. Have you ever wondered why there were so many drugs in the kitchen? And, indeed, why so many chef's stay in the kitchen long after the drugs left? Because we are all Junkies.....it's just a matter of finding the bigger buzz and for most of us the dish is the drug and the Pass is the 'line' to our brand new high.
I am piling on weight faster than a turkey before christmas because I can't bear to waste food and I can't bear not cook every day. It's an addiction you see and a sort of worship that must be practised every day. I have a freind who is an artist and now, thank god, she teaches art and artistic prectices to a group of willing students. Gosh they are lucky. She says that every person has an artisic streak within them and that if it isn't 'watered' properly, whatever that streak may be, that part of us will wither and die.
Cooking is my art and if I don't check in once a day then I am simply existing..... do you see? Atheletes I'm sure are the same... A good number of my freinds are professional Three Day Event riders and I know that they would agree.... Our jobs are not just jobs and professions...they come from our cores. If we don't check in every day then we are simply existing....this is not a good state for any 'junkie'.
You see the predicament.....? Ive just taken my lovely terrrier for a long walk around a deserted Hyde Park...... just as I was thinking that this is something we could do early every morning, he tore off a claw and will now be confined to barracks for a few days...... and so the weight piling continues as now I have even more time to create and then.....yep.... youve got it....EAT!
I only started cooking because it seemed to be where the interesting people hung out. I'd become addicted to restaurants in my mid to late teens when I started dating a wonderful man who introduced me to them. After a few years of working a number of different jobs I was fortunate enough to make it into the kitchen. And not just any kitchen....... We will come to that over the next few days...... if you want.....
Now, yesterday was my birthday and my good friends of the world all took great care and significant notice of the day and went to extraordinary lengths so that I could feel cherished...... and I did.... The last year of my 30's significantly waved off and I am now into my 40th year on the planet.... oh dear.....please GOD make it better than the last few weeks......
Coronavirus or no Coronavirus there has been time for some signifiacnt reflection in the Bates Household, as to how one has been living one's life and I can assure you, I'm not entirely delighted with the contents of that Pan. Changes must be made. These are not just 'strange times' for now.... these 'strange times' are going to be here for some time to come.....it isn't as if we can all wake up one day and things will be back to normal; the economy is fucked and will be for some time... globally.... and whilst the government have taken extraordinary measures to support us all through this time - I think it really is extraordinary, thank goodness and the great British public for voting for our wonderful Boris - at some point that 'bill' will have to be settled. Am I the only that feels that we have gone from a 'care-free' existence straight into an ALMOST 'war-time' existence? A frozen economy, mass unemployment, strained national health service and rising national debt? These are foreign times for my generation and the one before and the one after maybe...... Initially, i think that many of us felt that this would be like 2008.... sadly, I fear this is worse. This isn't just one arm of the global economy that has made a 'mistake'. We are all in crisis. People are dying, health care professionals cannot cope and the pandemic rages on.
So in true 'Rachel' fashion....... I have decided to eat! To cook and to eat until my money runs out (probably next week) and to share my Corona Cupboard experiences with you......God I hope you can bear it!!
Fresh off of the list from two days ago's supper was simply a handful of contents from the bottom drawer (the veg drawer) of the fridge. I quickly cooked some freekah in a small pan - only a tiny amount - a small handful and got that going. In another pan I cooked off some mushrooms, some cavallo nero, some brocoli stalk ~(diced) and at the last mintue I added a bunch of Spinach. In addition to this I added some fennel seed, english mustard, soy and chilli. Once cooked I drained the freekah, seasoned the grains and mixed it all together.......I was then very naughty and had this with some delicious chipolatas from waitrose that I found in the back of the freeezer! Bloody YUM!! Now, that isn't such an unhealthy supper, it could be served with fish, lamb or chicken or even the dreaded TOFU if you must. The important thing for me was, that this dish is mine.....I invented it, the flavours worked, it looks fresh and clean and I would have happily delivered it, as part of any dish, to any one of my clients at any level. If all of those boxes are ticked... then I feel the 'dish' wins and gets to be blogged...do you see? Its not actually quite as straightforward as blithering on to you about what I simply decided to eat? Where would be the fun in that for either of us? Im not a cook you see....but A CHEF.......
Originally I had planned to have the freekah salad with confit duck legs but I changed my mind...... that shall be tonight's treat!
As of tomorrow my birthday cake will have gone - delivered to people far more deserving, (and thinner), than me and I will be on a very strict diet and closely monitoring my weight. There will be recipes to reflect this and I am going to use it as an experiment to see IF my own personal low sugar and low carb recipes can work.