Skip to main content

The Hunger Trap (and my inexcusable, creativity-barren attempts to escape from it)

I can count the number of ready meal items I buy at home in the UK on one hand. Make that less than one hand: Tesco Finest Prawn and Chili Fishcakes and Four Cheese frozen pizzas. They're quick 'feed me/us now' options. The fishcakes are for me when I'm on my own: baked and crisped up in the oven and slipped onto a rocket (arugula) salad. The pizzas are for us both on a chow down in front of the TV night: we undress them, top them with a selection of fresh sliced tomatoes, char-grilled artichokes, hot and sweet peppers, black olives, maybe a few slices of Waitrose's Italian fennel salami on mine, and wait 15 minutes for the oven to exert its transforming powers of bubble and melt.

So why was I gazing into the icy bowels of a freezer at Publix supermarket on Deerfield Beach, here in south Florida, a couple of nights ago as if it held the answers to my culinary dreams? Some possible reasons. 

Tony wasn't hungry so I was looking only to feed myself. It was late, 8pm, later than I'd normally eat. I was tired. And I'd gone around the curve of hungry into the strait of being over-hungry where my blood sugar levels start to plummet and I get grumpy. All of which are pathetic and clatter together into one big unacceptable whine, making me more than deserving of what followed.

1) When I got home the box of Cajun flavoured frozen Wild Atlantic salmon told me I'd need to defrost it for 8 to 12 hours and 2) 1 hour and 30 minutes later the frozen Lime & Coriander Shrimp emerged from the villa's oversized oven, big enough to cook a small goat in, looking as appetising as the fragments of wave-shattered jelly fish along the shore when we first arrived on Hillsboro Beach, and with, I imagine, a similar consistency.

C'mon! I can do better than that. I know I can. And with very little effort. Some al dente pasta tossed in softened, chopped garlic, olive oil, parsley and grated Parmesan. A fried egg on hot buttered toast. Or just a dish of sliced fresh tomatoes drizzled with oil and salt, sprinkled with chopped spring onions, or scallions as they're called here, and bread to mop up the juice. It's not rocket science; it's not even science.

This story doesn't end well. (Although there was a satisfying interim event of a crustily seared but melt in the mouth medium rare filet mignon with a bottle of J Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon that didn't allow for even the seed of a whine to be germinated, let alone planted.) Last night I gave the (defrosted) salmon a chance. And promptly slid it off my plate into the bin. Salmon should taste of salmon not a fishmonger's rag. 

But I wasn't completely thwarted this time: on my plate was a pile of curly green rocket drizzled with oil and a baked potato whose skin had been rubbed with salt and whose creamy heart was draped in sour cream. Ahhh. There's nothing like letting ordinary ingredients run about (almost) naked to make me smile.

Hungry Writing Prompts
Write about throwing something away.
Write about being 'almost' naked.

Popular posts from this blog

Pie, pie glorious pie

So often when we talk about food we are talking about family. In fact that was how the hungry writer blog began, nearly six years ago: weekly memories or life stories linked by the theme of food. Food is nurture and love. It can be celebration and anxiety too. It can also be a battleground, as the parents of young children know so intimately! Which is rather a satisfying segue into the family featuring in this week's blogpost: The Radfords. Because if anyone understands the feeding of children, really, really understands, it has to be Sue Radford who, with her husband, Noel, has 19 children. You can read about the family on their website but don't rush off yet as what I really want to talk about is pie. And specifically Radford's pies.
Noel Radford has been a baker for 25 years and opened his own bakery in 1999 in Heysham, Lancashire and makes pies with locally sourced ingredients. That, along with his skill as a master baker, means that the pictures of the 'filled to t…

Eat, laugh, cry, remember: Baked Camembert

Once, on a holiday in Malta, I dressed Tony up in my gypsy skirt and stretchy white vest, used two satsumas for breasts and made up his eyes and lips with the brightest colours I had with me. Then I took a photograph. He didn’t seem to mind, in fact he seemed quite tickled by the fuss and attention to detail, but the quantity of rosé we’d shared at Snoopy’s restaurant on the seafront in Sliema earlier in the evening might have had something to do with that.

This was 1988. There were no digital cameras for instant viewing (and, praise be, instant deletion). The only instant photographs at the time came courtesy of Polaroid, with their packages of square film and box-like cameras, and slid out of the front of the machine on shiny thick card that everyone huddled over and watched develop. But they tended to be party cameras, appearing at Christmas, birthdays, engagements. You captured your holiday photos on a proper camera, one you had to load and feed film into, then unload and drop off…

The Mythic Biscuit: Oreos

My childhood biscuits were mainly plain but had lovely names: Marie, Nice, Rich Tea. Quiet biscuits. The kind of biscuits that would never interrupt a conversation. Polite, not pushy. At the other end of the spectrum, and only irregularly present, probably a result of practical economics, were cheeky Jammy Dodgers, irritable Garibaldis, and self-contented and reliable Bourbons. And even more irregularly, the flashy inhabitants of a Christmas Box of Biscuits: Pink Wafers. I ate them at the same time as not liking them very much, a bit like Miss World Contestants in sparkly dresses, too much eye make-up and a saccharine idea of world peace. 
I'm in the mood to think, and personify, 'biscuits' because the lovely team at Oreo sent me some samples of their new Oreo Thins. I hadn't heard of Oreos until the early 1990s when a friend asked if I would bring him back a packet from a Florida holiday. I forgot and pretended I couldn't find them. 'But they're everywher…