I’m not a natural cook, but stick me in a kitchen with some simple raw ingredients, a recipe book and a glass of chilled Pinot Grigio and I’ll have a damn good crack at producing something that’s half way edible. Without a recipe I’m rather less confident, with a vastly reduced repertoire consisting mainly of, well, spaghetti Bolognese. But to me it doesn’t matter what I cook, it’s the act of cooking I find enjoyable. The problem is that I, like many others, rarely make the time to do it.
The sad fact is when working all the hours God sends its often cooking that drops off most peoples’ registers. And who can blame them? If you’re routinely trooping through your front door after nine o’clock each night the last thing you feel like doing is deboning a sea bass and whipping up a pomegranate and red wine jus. Far easier to whack a frozen ready meal in the microwave, or even grab the nearest takeaway menu and slump onto the sofa.
But the funny thing is that if you can find the strength to drag yourself into the kitchen and create something from scratch, it has an oddly therapeutic effect. I don’t know whether it’s the act of cooking itself – chopping and grating, seasoning and tasting – that is so soothing or the fact the time spent doing it creates much needed space for your brain to relax. But whatever it is I believe that cooking is good for the soul.
And then there’s eating. I’ve often posited that I would be an exceptional candidate for a career in competitive eating, such is my love of (and inability to produce normal-sized plates of) food. Diets have never held much sway with me, for I come from the school of thought that suggests food is one of the great pleasures of life. Why should we deprive ourselves of what we love?
As long as you’re not stuffing yourself with saturated fats at every opportunity the occasional treat is fine – my particular weaknesses being chocolate and Big Mac meals on a hangover (I am eating chocolate as I write this). Everything in moderation, including (and yes, I know this is boring) regular exercise is the way to lead a healthy and contented life – not existing on Ryvita with a hot water and paprika chaser from dawn until dusk. Where’s the joy in that? I’ll take an extra roll of back fat over shoulder blades so sharp they can cut through glass any day of the week.
Now where’s that takeaway menu…