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Showing posts from February, 2011

The 2nd Bottle of Wine Argument

You’ve shared and enjoyed a good bottle of wine and you don’t really need any more to drink but...  hey, you're feeling good, relaxed, you could sit here all night chatting, so why not order or open another?
It’s usually half way through the second bottle that the accumulative effect of the alcohol makes one of you brave, rash or stupid enough to bring up something that would better be discussed in a more sober condition. A straightening of the spine, a narrowing of the eyes… if you listened carefully you’d probably hear knives sharpening themselves close by.  But you’re both blind and deaf to the signs of danger and you charge ahead.

Of course, the second bottle of wine isn’t always guaranteed to invoke an argument, but I have met a lot of couples who identify with it. My own most volatile experience of the phenomenon, which was compounded by a particularly dodgy moussaka (bad food always makes me grumpy), took place at an open-air restaurant in Heraklion, Crete and …

Teapot, Bakestone, Starlight

They belonged to my maternal grandmother, Alice James, who was born in 1909 and lived until she was 93. A teapot and its standing plate, a sugar bowl and two jugs, one for milk, the other for cream. Or perhaps the larger one for hot water and the smaller for milk? 'Yes,' my mother says, who remembers them in her childhood home, 'that would make sense.'
My paternal grandmother, Catherine Rees, died in 1959 when I was 8 months old. I have no memory of her but I have the bakestone, or planc as we say in Welsh, she would have cooked her welshcakes on.

My mother emails to say that Aunty Beryl-next door has died. We always called her that, not to mix her up with our ‘real’ Aunty Beryl, my father’s sister-in-law, who lived in Llanelli.
Aunty Beryl-next door hasn’t lived there for a while now. A widow, she moved a few years ago into sheltered accommodation then later, after breaking her hip, into more permanent care. But she was there before I was born. I never knew life withou…

Broken Cornets and Home-made Ice-cream

It is dusk. There are three of us, standing on the kerb in Chrome Avenue, looking up through the sliding window of the pink Tonibell van. One of us asks if he has any broken cornets to give away. We don’t have any money for ice cream. He might have said no, or he might have said, give me your hand and I’ll tell you. Which we will not do. Because we know him.
It doesn’t make sense for an ice-cream van to be doing its rounds at that time. Perhaps my memory has invented dusk for its dramatic effect, that uncertain place between the assurance of afternoon and evening, for the way our faces would have been illuminated by the van’s interior light. But perhaps he was there, at the end of his round, at the beginning of darkness.
Included in that memory are the details of all the other times he stopped in our street. He wore a pink nylon coat. His thin, black hair was smooth against his scalp. His face was plump and red and always seemed to be sweating.
When he hands down our 99s, a cone of so…

I won a Stylish Blogger Award...

... from the inspiring Angela Hirst at the good soup. I've been following Angela's blog since I first started The Hungry Writer project in October 2010. She's a cook, writer, researcher and teacher who completed her PhD, Eating the Other, Levinas's Ethical Encounter, in 2005. She says this about herself :

I love to write. It feels like dragging myself out of bed from a very very deep sleep each time I do it, but once I start, I don’t want to stop.
I love it when people cut through the romantic illusions of what makes a writer and tell it as it is. And I love writers who love to cook and eat!
Because blogging is all about learning and sharing The Stylish Blogger Award requires me to pass on the award to 15 other blogs I admire (and because, as Angela says, my blog stands at the edge of an almost dimensionless sea of food blogs there will be a few blogs that are rather more loosely linked to food) and to share 7 things about myself. So:  I hated to eat when I was small. I …

Anyone peckish? Food for thought.

Lise, the main character in the novel I’m currently reading, doesn’t seem to be that interested in food. So far she’s had ‘a cold supper’, has slept though one dinner and only commented on passing the bread and salt at another. She took a single piece of melon from a ‘breakfast buffet’ and sat at the kitchen table drinking wine one night and forgot about a freshly caught fish poaching to oblivion on the stove behind her. Maybe she sees eating as a necessary part of her days but not something that deserves too much attention. Maybe she’s too much in love to think about eating, or too busy adjusting to the emotional challenges of a new life, both of which are happening in alternating sections of the book.
When I read the words ‘breakfast buffet’ my mouth waters just thinking about what they might suggest: soft pastries, yoghurt and honey, a plate of fresh fruit, cold meats and cheese, eggs, bacon, sausage… well, okay, she’s in Mexico so perhaps less of the eggs and bacon, but what about…