Guardian Girl

Bumper xmas issue

Posted in Fashion, Food, Interiors, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on December 12, 2011
Show some zest

Show some zest

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Show some pity

DISCLAIMER: This post is really long, with not that many jokes. But it has a lot of pictures.

ADDENDUM TO DISCLAIMER: Just put some hysterical jokes in, reckon it’s well worth a read now.

“OMG, where do I even begin right now?”

I had a week off work and, rather then hiring a cosy cottage in the Cotswolds or jetting off in search of winter sun, I stayed at home and stuck masking tape on my tracksuit bottoms. To add to the excitement, they’re not even my tracksuit bottoms. Then I cooked enormous quantities of food I’m trying to avoid eating in anticipation of xmas corpulence and watched my boyfriend wolf it down (ELEVEN okra fritters in one sitting! If it’s allowed to mention your boyfriend and use exclamation marks in the same sentence without breaking the rules of decency!) Then I bought an All Saints dress I didn’t really want! The exclamation marks are a mask for the pain.

Raise your game

Raise your game

Lower your standards

Lower your standards

The fashion was actually fairly suitable staycation attire, as luck would have it.

Lounge hour

Lounge hour

Visiting hour

Visiting hour

Unfortunately I have been stung by using the magazine as my photo reference again. I was staying away from computers, what with being on holiday from the usual daily obligations. Of course now I come to snatch the online photos off the Guardian website and I find they’ve used all these different poses again. How can I make this mistake so often? Oh well, let’s truck on nonetheless.

Get

Get

Take

Your

Bore

Coat

Goat? Goitre throat? Wayne Hussey?

(Goat? Goitre? Wayne Hussey?)

I’m having problems getting the originals of these photos to load, for some reason. I know you’re desperate to see, so here’s the first and the second.

Good colour matching, I like to think? It’s just a shame I look so… disheartened isn’t quite the word. Bereaved?

The next issue ruddered me back into familiar and much-dreaded territory. I so hate copying the photos of the actual journalists. When I recreate the models’ poses, it’s possible to set aside vanity in the interests of taking one for the team. I feel I’m representing The People in our centuries-long battle against The Models. Yeh what’s delusional about that? Yeh? Come on then!

With the real people it’s difficult because you think ‘Ahaa, a real person! This one’s going to be easy!’ And then it isn’t, and then you’re sobbing in the wastelands outside your city in a white dress covered in dirt, in the rain, with violins. Actually you’re by a gravestone. Your face is covered in teras. TERAS! A futuristic version of tears! You will never even look as good as a normal person.

Actually even worse than the comparison thing is the fear that one of the below people might see the blog and be all creeped out. It’s like if a girl at school walked past you and a photo of YOU dropped out of her bag, and then another photo dropped out and it was that girl dressed up as you in that photo! Stalker! Weird! It’s EXACTLY like that!

Anyway we know why we’re here.

Jess Cartner-Morley

Jess Cartner-Morley

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Write in with a caption - I can't be fucked

Imogen Fox

Imogen Fox

Image of pox

Ridden with pox (this one was quite good wasn't it)

And now some spaces

to take us on to a new subject matter

maybe a subhead

Onwards foodwards

Spiced parsnip gougeres

Spiced parsnip gougeres

Spiced swede poogeres

Spiced swede poogeres

These were nice. No parsnips so, with the flick of an expert wrist, I substituted swede!

I actually managed to eat one, then walk out of the room. In fact I did this with all the week’s dishes: had a very small portion, then froze the rest for xmas. It may quite seriously be the first time I’ve ever exercised self-restraint. Feels incredible. All powerful. Scientological.

Orange and pistachio stollen bars

Orange and pistachio stollen bars

Orange and pistachio stolid bar

Orange and pistachio stolid bar

Wrongly photographed, right recipe. Based on the postage stamp-sized portion I ate, I’d say this was pretty great stuff.

Foot-long herb 'heros', with sausages and chilli cranberry sauce

Foot-long herb 'heros', with sausages and chilli cranberry sauce

Inch-long herb 'victims', with sausages and chilli cranberry sauce

Inch-long herb 'victims', with sausages and chilli cranberry sauce

These victims are going to be our Christmas Day breakfast.

That’s like something a proper blogger says isn’t it? I’m feeling so lifestyle!

Onion seed breadsticks, with shots of smoked salmon cheese

Onion seed breadsticks, with shots of smoked salmon cheese

Onion seed pugil sticks, with clots of smoked salmon cheese

Onion seed pugil sticks, with clots of smoked salmon cheese

Very tasty and easy breadsticks here. Recommend trying them. Think Monica might have something to say about my presentation though. Oh my, a revelation – Monica is what’s missing from this blog! I must contact her asap for some feedback.

Membrillo and stilton quiche

Membrillo and stilton quiche

Jam and stilton quiche

Jam and stilton quiche

What’s this? Oh yes, the quiche. Now this was really nice. Also been stuck in the freezer to be resumed on Boxing Day. Even Whole Foods didn’t seem to have membrillo, so I used fig jam, apparently to no detriment. It’s just like a sort of ploughman’s in a tart, no? That was an unsavoury turn of phrase, in hindsight, and I shouldn’t have used it. Let’s pray for computers to be invented so I can delete it.

Spicy okra fritters

Spicy okra fritters

Greasy, acrid shitters

Greasy, acrid shitters

Finally, the fritters. I found them seepingly cloggetory of the arteries but my flatfellow very much enjoyed them, as we have heard, so they must have some merit in the universe. Or rather in Hades by now I expect.

more pauses here

And for afters

A reel of painfully aspirational photos of my flat. Efforts at interior styling have, as usual, fallen and fractured their coccyx.

Dining booth

Dining booth

Feeding trough

Feeding trough

Living room

Living room

Existing room

Existing room

Kitchen

Kitchen

Addiction (to gin, by the looks of things)

Addiction (to gin, by the looks of things)

Exterior

Exterior

Posterior

Posterior

Conclusions:

  • The grand conclusion of the day is that I have now fried most of my money in oil, bagged it up and frozen it
  • If you see what I mean
  • So now I have to stop again, enjoy Christmas, wear what I want to the office party, and return at some point in the new year
  • This is just a prediction; I may write again tomorrow
  • If you’re thinking of doing some cooking for the days in and around xmas, I really do recommend the quiche and the breadsticks. And the stollen bars
  • Happy Xmas/See you tomorrow! To be deleted when we know what happens!
  • Suspense!
  • Been reading too many American writings and it’s stained my blog with exclamation marks and a ridiculous tone and loads of caps and italics, so prob best have a detox anyways
  • Oh god bye
  • Byeeeee
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Just a small slice then

Posted in Fashion, Food, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on November 15, 2011

It’s been a very unsuccessful few days in terms of Guardian-ness. Also in terms of being a reasonable human being. My phonecam keeps breaking, it keeps getting dark before I’ve had me photo done, I keep getting a bit ‘merry’ before my work with caraway seeds has been successfully completed.

The sum total of this week’s cookery attempts is a half-burnt, half-raw cake that contained no caraway seeds at all because there weren’t any in the corner shop and I had drunk too much gin to make it to the supermarket.

I took a slice of this cake to the pub for my friend Jess’s birthday. It was an attempt to win her trust back after last year, when I promised to bake her favourite cake as a birthday treat. As she left the house to meet some friends, I was mixing the ingredients. When she got back, I was in bed with a tummy ache. Something happened in between that I can’t exactly explain. All I know is, all the cake went in my tummy.

One year later and I’ve not really got a handle on this rapacious impatience around baked goods. You can see below there’s a fair amount of crust missing where I’ve removed the cake from the oven and picked off the nice bits before the middle has finished cooking.

Caraway and orange seed cake

Caraway and orange seed cake

Carried away with greed cake

Carried away with greed cake

I put the rest of the cake in a tupperware container in a cupboard, thinking Jess wouldn’t want the whole lot (that’s generosity for you). Later that night – after 10 hours in the pub, it must be said – I was found squirreled in the corner of my kitchen with the remainder of the cake in one giant piece between my paws, gnawing away while belligerently refusing to go to bed. Next morning, the internet told me that I had been hounding my long-suffering manfriend with nonsensical instant messages while he was trying to work; my memory told me that I had been monopolising the conversation in the pub with incessant talk about vaginas; my stomach told me that jagermeister, red wine, gin, rum and cider ‘don’t go’. Miraculously the words ‘it’s over’ didn’t crop up, so I’m going to do it all again next weekend.

Fashionwise, in contrast, I have managed to keep up appearances in the form of flattering, glamorous outfits and dangerously seductive poses.

Stripes sight

Stripes sight

Partial sight

Partial sight

Conclusions:

  • Know your sensible limits

    Know your sensible limits

Vietnamese pot-bellied pig

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on November 2, 2011

Turns out Hugh wouldn’t come out of the cellar so I untrussed Yotam instead, and he gave me a masterclass in salad making. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to cover Module 3: Julienning, but I passed Module 1: Putting Ingredients in a Bowl and Module 2: Frying Onions with hovering colours.

I cooked both Yotam’s salads, since one salad can never be enough. I personally found them both quite delicious although the beef contained large hunks of gristle (not Yotam’s fault).

My boyfriend was a little quiet during the eating of the salads, not making his usual appreciative snortings and smackings. It could have been because of the gristle, it could have been because of the abundant pomegranate seeds, which are not to everyone’s taste, it could have been because he was wondering whether he was going to pick up his napkin and find it full of yoghurt.

Warm Vietnamese beef salad
Warm Vietnamese beef salad
Blurry Vietnamese gristle salad
Blurry Vietnamese gristle salad

You can see what I mean about Module 2 here. I have an amazing book that tells you how to do everything properly in the kitchen, so no excuses on this front. Will read julienning section asap.

We didn’t get to eat this salad until something like 10pm because it took so bloody long to chop all the ingredients and fry and mix and peel and all that. Yotam is all about the prep. I dearly wish for a team of people to chop and weigh my ingredients for me, and line them up on the worktop in those little glass bowls.

The other reason dinner was late was that I had been up the Angel trying to buy cheap crombies. My workmate Sophie gave me a careful rundown of what did and didn’t constitute a crombie before I left the office, but by the time I reached the mall I was already confused. Something about wool, something about a collar. I texted poor Sophie a pic from the H+M changing rooms but unfortunately by the time my phone had actually got round to posting it (lazy iPhones) I had already reached the counter.The receipt was flapping victoriously in my hand when I received the response “No, I don’t think that counts as a crombie.” Anyway it’s a nice coat in a CDT teacher sort of a way, I needed one anyway, and it only cost £25.

Today’s outfit is not very see-through, thankfully. I thought about taking my bra off but my workfriendographer Charlotte and I decided the office corridor wasn’t the best place for it.

Spots
Spots
Acne
Acne

This dress makes lots of appearances on the blog because it’s one of the only lightish-coloured dresses I own. Light-coloured dresses in my experience are generally unflattering and impractical. However I might need to invest in a few more as this old maternity frock here (I have never been preggers, I just bought it because it leaves plenty of space for a pot belly after a large meal, and it was dirt cheap in a sale) looks like a crumpled snot rag on account of my never ironing it, and is covered in stains on account of my hopeful overestimation of the size of forks.

Conclusions:

Hellfire and brimstone, beans, and other national priorities

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on August 13, 2011

Good day.

Last week never really picked itself up off its weekend-scuffed knees. Not much to show for it all. I did cook a few bean recipes, all of which were very tasty and one of which is represented here through the medium of unskilled photography.

Fresh borlotti beans with onions and garlic

Fresh borlotti beans with onions and garlic

Fresh not-the-right-beans with onions and garlic

Fresh not-the-right-beans with onions and garlic

Somehow it didn’t feel like International Consumerist Blog Week though, do you know what I mean? When you’re a few roads away from rioting and the shops are boarding up their windows around you, you don’t necessarily take the decision to hammer on their doors and ask them to stay open ten minutes longer so you can buy a punnet of fresh biodynamic borlotti beans for dinner. Hence tinned chickpeas and black-eyed beans above and hence last week’s general quietness on the Guardian-following front.

Not blaming all of last week’s failures on the distraction of the riots, mind. I also had a very busy, not-wanting-to-wear-leather-gauntlets-to-work kind of a week (we all have them, once a decade or so) and the Guardian life dropped off the bottom of the list somehow. So I just busied myself with other stuff instead, like having a job, having a relationship and other such inconsequential minutiae of daily existence.

For all its pain-in-the-arseness though, I have set myself this imprudent challenge and I must keep trucking along. This morning I begrudgingly resolved to get serious again with the Saturday dawning of the new issue, despite really just wanting to have a lie-in and eat a fry up before coming to the office.

In any case I valiantly shambled off to the newsagent to buy the paper, tears of self-pity in my eyes, followed by a trip to Whole Foods to buy buttermilk and sumac () (this is a bold ellipsis to signify a a weighty pause of some kind). The ‘hugelyirritated’ person complaining about Yotam’s failure to explain halloumi here really ought to try swapping places with me for a week. I’ll show ’em hugely irritated. (Seriously though, leave Yotam alone! Get a dictionary!)

I cooked the buttermilk soup for lunch, following the recipe fairly carefully but not doing quite as much cooling as I might have done had I not been in a bit of a rush. The taste was happy. The photo, which I will display to you tomorrow after 24 hours of no doubt unbearable suspense, is sad.

Out of conscientious obedience towards The Measure, I am listening to The Drums/Money on Soundcloud as I type this. Muuuurrrrhh. If I want chittering beats, I generally listen to those of yesteryear. If I want to be cheered up, I generally listen to Peter André (a personal hero – so kind, so tolerant!). If I want mediocrity, I will at least gravitate towards a more gratifying melody than this. It’s all right and everything but it’s not one for the record collection. Or even a Spotify playlist, in all honesty.

Tomorrow I might buy those jodhpurs. Not sure yet. Can’t quite give a fig. Maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up all full of the joys of sourdough soup and new clothes, eager to spank a few hundred quid on the sort of garment Lorraine Kelly might wear in a photo shoot to celebrate her recent weight loss in Take a Break. I dunno, maybe they’d look cool on, like, Daisy Lowe or someone, but I bet I look like a bloody horse-obsessed Blyton-envisaged dyke in them. Or Tess Scabius how I imagined her in the book version of Any Human Heart. Worth a poke, but generally just too deliquently equestrian to be any kind of role model. I see they made her quite pretty on the telly programme. Didn’t watch it – Googled it.

OK, well beyond time to stop.

Fondies, then x

Conclusions:

  • Deary me, so morose today, slumped at my desk, now listening to Aerosmith (I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing) with a dramatic air, a belly full of posh chicken soup and the prospect of a new pair of designer jodhpurs seeming so tragic.
  • Deary, deary me.
  • Ah well.
  • Boyfriend just texted me to say soup was nice. That should probably incite some kind of ‘ahhh, that makes it all worthwhile’ response.
  • Nothing makes buying buttermilk before noon on a Saturday worthwhile. LEISURE TIME, rudely interrupted.
  • Foot stamping, lower-lip sticking-outing.
  • Really bye.

The torpedoes that broke the glutton’s back

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes by guardiangirl on August 2, 2011
Cheddar torpedoes

Cheddar torpedoes

Cheddar corrr-pedoes

Cheddar corrr-pedoes

The final report from last week’s issue, rather late because I’ve been off having a free will again (it keeps bursting through) concerns these cheddar torpedoes. Yes, mine looked like Iceland garlic bread, but they tasted…they tasted…so good that my boyfriend and I polished off the lot (minus one torpedo we physically couldn’t fit down our gullets [I tried]) in about 10 minutes. It was 11pm by the time I’d got home, mixed the ingredients up in a bowl, allowed the dough to rise in various stages, brushed over the egg wash and all that biz, and by that time you tend to get an appetite for The Thing in the Kitchen.
But check it out – I used an egg wash, and measured the ingredients again! That’s like two recipes I’ve actually followed in the past two years! I really might be turning into someone who does things properly, and it might be almost entirely down to Lepard and Ottolenghi, whose instructions I must finally concede do tend to have reasons behind them. This whole lesson has raised the question: exactly what battle do I think I’m winning by halving rising time, chopping veg three times too big, not peeling stuff, not cooling stuff, not melting stuff and so on? I’m sure it’s not so much laziness as a sort of impotent rebellion. Which leads to the question: are these scenarios the most appropriate way to channel impotent rebellion or should I set my sights higher? Perhaps measuring flour could be a cure for political apathy? Christ, I’ve discovered all the answers!
In the meantime, back to the eating. It is nobody’s fault but my own that I am fervently greedy. Looking at this week’s tart recipe out of the corner of a weeping eye, for example, I didn’t think ‘I could have a slice of that with my Sunday cuppa.’ I thought ‘That’s one step closer to a mobility scooter.’ The only way to get around this is by avoiding the stimulus all together – some people just got their synapses arranged that way. So I’m taking this week off cooking while I go for a few runs and eat a few chicken breasts, maybe drag my crucifix around for a few hours if I can find where I left it.
Outfitwise, last week’s fiction special and resulting lack of the usual two fashion stories meant I ran out of models to copy and had to ape (?) Jess Cartner-Morley instead. This has happened a few times before and it tends to infuse the day with an uncomfortable sense that JC-M is about to walk round the corner in the same outfit and give me a withering look. The fear isn’t helped by the fact that she actually lives round the corner, apparently. Anyway let’s just pray for plenty more fashion pages in future.
Scalloped edge

Scalloped edge

Over the edge
Over the edge
This week’s fashion is, so far, causing a persistent bad mood. Can’t they just have one fashion shoot inspired by Trog or the Sammiad instead of all this Dallas-ish spangle? Filtered through my pathologically unglamorous world, golden vestments and sultry pouts just seem to turn into orange Primark hand-me-downs and gormlessness. It generates a great sense of dejection, it really does.
Golden nuggets

Golden nuggets

Borange muggins

Borange muggins

Conclusions:
  • Doing this thing, there are weeks of great elation during which I genuinely feel I’ve attained a higher level of capable existence, pottering around with sage plants in my manicured hands and wearing accessories. But when it falls down, usually because life can’t always be organised around gold lamé and plum tarts, I feel the lack. Lord knows I feel the lack.
  • Better lighten up a bit.
  • Isn’t it incredible what you can do with an iPhone app these days? Just check out those colour-filling skills on display above. You’d think it’d been done by a professional artworker.

Pass the baguette, pass up the leather culottes

Posted in Fashion, Food by guardiangirl on July 27, 2011
Baked tomatoes with baguette

Baked tomatoes with baguette

Tomatoes baked with success

Tomatoes baked with success

Denim is back

Denim is back

...but I don't think this is what they had in mind

...but I don't think this is what they had in mind

Nice dinner last night. My lifelong most-hated foodstuff (not bread) came out a treat, much to my surprise. Friends can corroborate tastiness of this dish.

Today’s working day involved visiting a construction site. The dress code stipulated no shorts, which sadly meant I had to leave my leather culottes at home today. 500 builders breathe a collective sigh of relief. Another day, another set of mottled, hirsute English thighs ungazed upon from behind the safety goggles.

Last week’s Marks n Sparks swimming cossie arrived at work today. Looks pretty good, although have lingering doubts about mid-leg cut. Hidden bra support good news for wearing it as a body-con style top though. Time will tell all.

Not done much treating self to Measure-endorsed consumables so far this issue, but the week is yet youngish.

Work busy, mustache.

Non merci

Posted in Fashion, Food by guardiangirl on July 4, 2011

THE HIGHEST FORM OF NO.

Totally tropical

Totally tropical

Totally horrible

Totally horrible

Conclusions:

  • What further conclusions does a person really need to draw? This is a time for being kind.
  • Hugh’s sage and cheddar scones were incredible – really like eating the feeling of getting in a winter bed – and only took half an hour to make, all in. Everyone should give them a go (and you too could look like a model!)
Tagged with: , , ,

High-maintenance fashion, low-maintenance food

Posted in Fashion, Food, Uncategorized by guardiangirl on July 3, 2011
Reading palms

Reading palms

Bleeding palms

Bleeding palms

Today I spent so long trying to recreate the glamorous look of the Guardian model that I missed my friend’s entire birthday picnic in Lewes and ended up spending six hours on public transport in return for one hour of celebrations. By the time I got there, all that heavy-duty Sam Fox make-up had dripped off my face anyway, so I may as well have turned up fresh from my bed. Oh well, you live and don’t learn.

Dinner wasn’t much of a looker either.

Pasta with brown butter, sage and capers

Pasta with brown butter, sage and capers

Maggots with brown butter, sage and capers

Maggots with brown butter, sage and capers

Today my friend Sarah described the food photos on this blog as looking like a “wetter, less well-photographed” version of the Guardian’s recipes. I’d like to add “wan” to the list. Why does all my food look so damned wan? Why, for that matter, do I always look so wan? It struck me that actually that’s exactly what life is, really. A wan version of a magazine.

Happy Sunday!


Back after all this time

Posted in Fashion, Food, Recipes, The Measure by guardiangirl on June 27, 2011

I have barely thought about Guardian Girl for the past year or so. Recently, though, I keep bumping into people I haven’t seen for a while who ask me if I’m still doing it and why I stopped. I always tell them it cost too much money, freedom and vascular health, any one of which would be a good reason to stop a blog. Yet despite repeatedly going over the reasons why this is such a stupid idea, just thinking about the subject planted evil seeds of temptation in my mind.

On Saturday I finally got to thinking that it really has been too long since I’ve had a legitimate outlet for my third-rate puns and crushingly unflattering photos. I used to think that reading blogs was only for idiots, so I had no idea of the benchmarks when I first started doing all this business. Since I’ve been away I have read quite a few, which has allowed me to realise that blogs are rubbish, bloggers are morons and I don’t actually have to worry about being a good writer, saying anything clever or having any sense of dignity at all. This realisation has spurred me back into action.

So, here we are.

Happily for posterity’s sake, we begin again with pies and swimwear! As you will shortly see, not that much has changed in the past year.

(We actually began with soup, but my photo of it has got stuck on a different camera, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that making soup out of salad ingredients is actually nice, even if you still can’t be bothered to chop vegetables small and therefore end up with an actual salad floating in some hot water.)

Glade tidings

Forbade hiding

Forbade hiding

A bad start on the formatting. A bad start full stop, maybe. I did put a skirt on before I left the house. Don’t really know what the caption means – is meant to capture a general feeling, I think.

So that’s swimwear covered for the day; now on to the lard.

I should mention at this point that in the time I’ve been away I have managed to shack up with a man whose appetite for a good pie matches – and possibly even exceeds – the indiscriminating gusto with which I cook them. This is a great relief because although eating two portions of pie for dinner isn’t ideal for a person, eating four is very much worse.

Mackerel and lovage tarts

Mackerel and lovage tarts

Mackerel: a lovely start

Mackerel: a lovely start

It hurts to be so positive, but this really did come out good. A great recipe Hugh, ta mate. I used cheat’s roll-out puff pastry obviously, and ready cooked and smoked mackerel. Most of my potatoes had turned green and sprouted like so many limited-edition Shrek Mr Potato Heads (? quip too forced? and also why use ‘so many’ like an american when you from england?) so I chucked those out and just used the remaining couple that were just squidgy, not deadly. Are you supposed to save green potatoes to polish your silver and clean your windows with? I need to ask that woman with the big weird plait who turned out to have buried her stillborn child in a park. Anyway I am digressing into offensive territory here. The pie was delicious, all agreed.

Second outfit of the week and it has been a sweltering day. Needless to say, the blanket only stayed on briefly while Miguel (photographer of the day) took this distracted iPhone shot in which I can’t even keep my eyes open. That’s being wrapped in blankets for you. The rest of the day I resorted to the most pink and blanketlike dress I own, which is just a pink dress.

The wrap

The wrap

The Mummy

The Mummy

Measurewise, I have got on the case in astoundingly conscientious fashion and purchased myself some leg make-up, so as never to stray into the sheer-infested territory of Pippa M’s fashion mishaps, and a collected works of Jane Austen so I can understand what this whole Anna Wintour parallel gag is about. Totally with her on the smileys though.

I have neglected to purchase any Stella McCartney eveningwear (guess why), drink a G&T with cucumber (taking it easy on the booze at the mo) and am not yet sure what I’m going to do about this issue of the Orrefors crystal tumbler or HBC modelling for Marc Jacobs.

Will update.

Off to cook courgette and not-lovage pasta now. Has anyone managed to track down any lovage this week?

Conclusions:

  • Too hot for blankets, too public for bikini bottoms
  • Hooray for pie sharing
  • Salad soup, who knew?
  • Sorry about blurry and malformatted photos etc. One day I will neaten all this up.

Split peas and a broken heart

Posted in Fashion, Food by guardiangirl on February 24, 2010

Last night I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s piece on food and meat eating. I finished it with a lump in my throat, glad at least that dinner was vegetarian.

His thoughts on the significance of meals stabbed me in the clogged-up arteries.

As the months have passed during this project, the outfits and recipes have become part of my daily life, no longer anything remarkable. Most of my friends and many of my colleagues know what I’m doing and have long settled into their chosen level of amusement, bemusement or indifference, either leaving me to it or helping me pose for photos and eat pans of spaghetti for ten. The paper is bought first thing each Saturday morning, pages are turned, dresses belted, pans stirred, photos matched, captions written. The more familar my routine becomes, the less I question it and the more rarely I bother to scratch the surface of what I’m doing.

But on a personal level, it goes much deeper.

Taking food out of its context can sap much of the joy from eating it. Some of the pleasure of chopping, stirring, spooning and swallowing transcends circumstance, but for me any emotional meanings attached to the dishes I’m creating have often dissolved by the time the food reaches the plate.

Of course there have been many evenings like last Saturday, spent around the table with friends, happily slurping mangoey steak juices and talking about affairs of the heart. But for every one of those times there’s been a night like yesterday, spent alone in the kitchen in front of a daunting mound of ingredients, slicing veg mechanically and stirring in soured cream when I would’ve been quite happy with a simple, healthy salad for one.

It doesn’t matter how delicious a noodle soup is or how finely cut a cardigan – it’s the meaning we attach to it that makes the cooking and the wearing worthwhile. You can spend hours a day making your home look like an interiors shoot, copying catwalk looks and cooking River Cottage recipes, but it won’t buy you the love of a family or the glamour of a beautiful model, no matter what you read in the Saturday supplements. We all know this, so why does the belief that these things can be bought into endure so relentlessly?

This sounds more melancholy than I feel, but the matter continues to get under my skin.

Now I’m back to my running schedule I hope the rich recipes will become a treat again, rather than a dispiriting obligation. Now I’m living with friends I hope there will be lots of communal bread breaking around shared pans of food. Now I’ve got a sensible budget sorted I hope the odd new bit of clothing will feel like a wise investment and not a waste of cash.

As always, many of the problems I’ve run into doing this project have been a result of taking the whole thing to such an extreme level, and that commitment is a necessary part of the project as far as I’m concerned. But it still raises the question of what happens to the meaning of food – and clothes, and interior design and the rest – if it comes straight out of a magazine. Can you really buy into a stylist’s look or a chef’s favourite dish? You can put on the clothes and prepare the food, but what happens to the layer of meaning underneath?

Legume noodle soup

Legume noodle soup

Gloom and brooding soup

Gloom and brooding soup

Impress

Impress

Depress

Depress

Conclusions:

  • Comparing oneself to a plus-size model turns out to be far more depressing than comparing oneself to a stick. No excuses.
  • The noodle soup turned into a pan of pasta with sauce because I had lots of linguine to use up. But it was absolutely delicious.
  • I have high hopes for a regained sense of control and a renewed appreciation for cream-based recipes now my foot is unbroken and I’m able to exercise again.
  • If my hopes are dashed, I have a pact with myself to become the less snappily titled Health and Fitness Magazine Girl for a while and conduct a study on the efficacy of a different brand of manipulative claptrap designed to undermine your intuition and create false need in order to sell products. Sorry, I mean magazine.
  • Today I’m supposed to buy two pairs of trainers to replace my old Converse, one of which I can’t find and one of which goes beyond my budget after having bought the ingredients for yesterday’s dinner.