I dream about food. Spiced lamb samosas for a dinner party of 12 until my friend says that at least three or four guests are vegetarian. What about the others? I ask her. Do they eat red meat? I don’t think so, she says. And there’s less than an hour before everyone arrives. We could go and get fish and chips, I suggest. But now I don’t want to be the one in charge. I don’t want to face these disappointed and disagreeable people. I say to her, if they’re invited to someone’s house for dinner they’ll just refuse to eat what they’re served? That’s just plain bad manners. I’m losing in all directions: my food, my friends, my generosity of spirit.
A fish-hook dream: one that threatens to tug me along by the lip for the rest of the day if I let it. And I don’t have to let it. I just have to recognise that my emotional response has been produced by the dream’s wake. I can keep my head above the water; I don’t have to go under.
This morning the lawn is spiked with tiny mushrooms.
I watch their caps soften and stretch like Dali’s soft watches until they’re just a smear of their former selves. Mushroom identification, on the web, is more challenging than I thought it would be but, as far as I can tell, these are Coprinopsis atramentaria – common ink caps – which are poisonous when consumed with alcohol. No danger of that happening: they’re not the most appetising looking fungi around, particularly as they slip towards their demise, but I’m grateful to them for introducing me to the delicious word of ‘deliquescence’, to dissolve gradually by absorbing moisture from the atmosphere, to melt away. But as beautiful as it is I can’t imagine ever using it in a line of prose or poetry; words with their roots in Old English, like melt and soften, feel more comfortable in my mouth, sound more authentic in my voice on the page.
But let’s stay with mushrooms. More specifically Mushroom Tartlings. (Or ‘tartlets’ if you’re from the BBC or just prefer proper words.) I use these loose-bottomed tins, prick the base of the pastry with a fork and pile in the mushroom mixture. That way there’s less of a puff pastry frame to munch your way through.
They are lovely - sweet and meaty in a non-meaty way. So why didn’t I think of these in my dream for the wanting vegetarians and unfairly judged non-red meat eaters? I could have saved myself all that angst. Kept my friends. But it usually involves a morsel of pain, a sprinkling of regret for not knowing better sooner, for me to learn something. In dreams and waking life.
Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about losing a friend.
Write about the early morning.
Write about poison.
Write about melting away.
Write about saving yourself.