Keeping warm. Staying whole.

I was driving from my parents' house to Port Talbot town centre yesterday morning and stopped at a pedestrian crossing to let a guy and his young daughter cross the road, obviously on their way to school. His tracksuit bottoms were tucked into long socks, his hoodie pulled tight around his face. Thirty years ago, maybe even twenty years, I'd have thought: man, you're in desperate need of some style advice. Yesterday my immediate response was, good on you for keeping warm mate, and wondered if I should tuck my leggings (under my jeans) into my socks for added warmth.  

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with no central heating and gas fires in only the living room and front room, I used to get dressed under the blankets on winter mornings, pulling my nightie off and my underwear on, tights, vest and petticoat, jumper and skirt, before hurtling downstairs for breakfast. 

As a teenager and in my early twenties I'd freeze in the line for a nightclub, sleeveless, bare legged, daring my teeth not to chatter rather than spoil 'the look' with a coat. 

These days I belong to the same style club as the long socked man: whatever it takes to keep warm in cold weather. 

Age or maturity? (The two don't necessarily go together.)

Heat and warmth and protection from the cold. I had them all at once in Llangrannog last Monday after a visit to Sebastien Boyesen's studio. Boyesen is the sculptor responsible for two pieces of public art in Port Talbot and a whole swathe of them around Wales, sculptures that draw on a region's history and myths, the lives of people who have lived and worked there. His bronze sculpture of St Caranog watches over the coastline here.

At the Patio Cafe/Caffi
Llangrannog, on Wales' west coast, is a one road in/one road out kind of village, roads that make you breathe in (in a futile attempt to reduce the width of your car), with a cliff-framed beach created for satisfied sighs and silent gazing. In a cafe at the shore I had a dish of fish chowder, two hunks of wholemeal buttered bread and a view I could spend my life with. 

Outside, the wind had nearly sliced me in half. Inside the soup, and the sunlight and sea through the window, made me whole again. 

Hungry Writing Prompts
  • Write about something fashionable or unfashionable.
  • Write about keeping warm.
  • Write about an episode from your teenage years.
  • Write about what's at the end of a road.
  • Write about what makes you whole
Llangrannog beach and cove


Fun on a plate

I'm turning into Cher. Not the one who seems to have difficulty smiling but the one who appeared with Bob Hoskins and Winona Ryder in Mermaids in 1990. It's a few years since I've seen it but I remember that Cher's character, a single mother, never cooked. Instead she concocted plates and plates of hors d'oeuvreamuse-bouche, canapés, appetisers, finger food, nibbles. 

Amuse-bouche: I learnt that while living in France. If you were with close friends you could say amuse-gueule (jaw, as opposed to mouth, perhaps an equivalent to our use of gob). 

I've never used hors d'oeuvre. Apart from wanting to say 'horses doovres' in a bad London accent I don't like what the words mean: apart from the (main) work'. It's too clinical.

Canapés, strictly speaking, are little mouthfuls of something on bread, toast, blinis, crackers or pastry. I suppose these qualify as canapés:

Ardennes pate on thin slices of toasted baguette with cress and a sliver of cornichon.
Herb and garlic smoked salmon and creme fraiche on blinis with fresh dill. 
Appetisers get confused with first courses. Finger food says 'buffet' and the older I get the more hostile I feel towards buffets. I want to sit down at a table with cutlery and condiments rather than have to stand up, balancing a glass and a range of food that shouldn't be sharing the same plate and look as if I'm enjoying myself. So I suppose my little invention of chorizo and prune (the less adventurous amongst you: please stay with me!) will either have to be filed under nibbles (which is a touch too twee) or I'll need to find a new word for small tasty things that precede a meal. Preceders? No, that sounds like a 1970s television series. 

You're going to have to like chorizo to like these, but you don't necessarily have to be a big fan of prune, because that acts as a sweet foil for the spicy sausage, creating a combination that is simply delicious. Oh, you serve them warm too. Less than 10 seconds in the microwave for a couple. Up to 30 seconds for a small plate. (Warning: they spit. But don't hold it against them.)

I had Devilled Eggs in Racks at Mizner Park in Boca Raton last summer. This was Florida so they were more small meal than little mouthful. A whole family of mouths could have bitten into one of them, at the same time. I've only played with egg appetisers once: hard-boiled and peeled quails' eggs served with three types of salt - sea, celery and garlic. 

I can understand why Cher only made little snackettes: they say 'party'. They're fun (at least, they should be fun) no bigger than one bite, and nothing too squirty or at risk of collapsing between the plate and anyone's mouth. And music. They should be served with music. And here's a short, spontaneous and eclectic list of some of my snackette party music. You may, of course, add your own. 

Anything Gypsy Kings

Have snackettes. Have fun.

Hungry Writing Prompts
  • Write about wanting to be someone else
  • Write a list of words you don't like.
  • Write a list of things you're a fan of.
  • Write about eggs.
  • Write about dancing.


Na Hai Wri Mo - Food, glorious food

That's National Haiku Writing Month and a challenge to write one haiku every day during February. They're only little poems and it's only one a day, so no sweat, right? Actually, it always surprises me how much discipline it takes to commit to adopting a new daily habit!  To ignore the voice that says, Oh don't worry, give it a miss today.

But Michael Dylan Welch's rolling project has Food as its theme this month. So how could I resist? Or perhaps it's more that as the hungry writer I feel I have a duty to participate! 

There's a daily prompt to focus and guide me. Today is Pasta. Tomorrow is Eggs. I hope there's roast chicken, chips, and chocolate in there at some point! 

I might get some good haiku out of this. I'll probably write some that don't amount to much. But I'll be writing, consciously. And in a direction I haven't dictated for myself - there are always discoveries to be made when I enter un-mapped writing territory. 

the waiter asks me again
which pasta I'd like

I think I'm trying to be too clever here: orecchiette means 'little ears' in Italian. But at least it's a start. 

spaghetti hoops
my grandson tries to convince me
he didn't do it

I'm trying too hard, tying the two halves of the haiku together with a band of iron, rather than a loose thread. Trying to get the idea of 'jumping through hoops' into the haiku. Haiku are light, fleeting moments captured, insights. This is clunky.

Oh well, there's the rest of the day. And maybe I'll have more luck with eggs tomorrow. And the rest of the month's prompts. 

Hungry Writing Prompts
Write a haiku. 
Write about eating pasta.
Write about following a map.
Write about cleverness.
Write about being lucky.