When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.
Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009
It’s Jamie Oliver’s birthday today. Who would have thought that the fresh-faced, lisping youngster would become one of the most enduring celebrity chefs in history with his Naked Chef series? Although, in Jamie’s case, ‘naked’ refers to simplicity rather than nudity, the very word makes me want to cry. Our current cold weather defies description; my nose is drizzling and my face is too numb to feel it. Until the drizzly bits freeze up, pulling my top lip up toward my cheek in a lopsided grimace.
And so, as often happens, Sidey’s weekend theme is right on the mark, there is a call for comfort food. Yesterday was National Soup Day and, daydreaming of sunnier climes, using what I had in my pantry and freezer, I set out to recreate a Basque stew/soup I’d once read in a magazine. Onions, garlic, white beans, herbs, white wine, fish, prawns, mussels, tomatoes … and lots of chilli.
Eaten beside a roaring fire, it provided no small comfort.