Ah, hogmanay is upon us, and I feel this morning like 2018 may continue very much as 2017 is ending. Basically that means sore footed and snotty (you are dead to me Jon & Kerrie) whilst trying to devise ways to eat good dinners and keep the Mr away from anything with lemon in it.
Ah, it’s not all bad, it’s just early.
In review, I made quite a few ticks on my 2017 list and will infact be seeing out the year in one of my promised venues from last year, The Kovalam, which has become our celebration restaurant of choice. I didn’t make it to Lily Vanilli’s and the bloody Man Behind The bloody Curtain didn’t materialise for a number of booking conflicts but they will bump on to my renewal wish list at midnight. I kind of hope that this is all that thumps about as the year flips over this time.
Confession: New Year is not traditionally a happy time for me. Take a ticket and get in line if you fear this is some kind of attack on any NYE I have spent in your company. It has nothing to do with you- frankly I enjoy drinks and celebrations at any time of year but the actual entire New Year concept is often something of a gloomy weight for me. There’s a bunch of reasons for this, but the biggest is that the end of the year is a time to look back. To reflect. To add up all the little notes and failures and embarrassments and slights and underachievements that have dragged me another twelve months closer to the grave. Woe is me.
OK fine, not really, I don’t need a Samaritans intervention and I really don’t need to spend any more time agonising over my Nine Of The Best instapost. Time to look forwards.
I don’t want to be that bore who bangs on about wellness and feelings and all that but just for a moment let’s get bored about wellness and feelings. I’ve seen a lot of pleas this year to think of those who are alone at Christmas and think of those who might not like the holidays (disgraceful term) and this gets right on my festive tits, not because I don’t wish to think of these people but because I can’t believe people still need to be reminded to be nice to eachother and lay off the emotionally fragile once in a while!
What the AF has this got to do with a food blog? I will tell you. The world sucks. The world contains misogyny scandals and factory farming and everything dark and selfish within humanity that has allowed a demented gibbon to rise as leader of the free world. There isn’t much I can do about those things, and it is easy to become massively depressed about the state of the world, or massively depressed about the state of yourself. When you can’t wave a magic wand to change the world, you can take a peek inside yourself and make some changes there which nudge the world as a whole in a better direction and quite frankly cheer you the hell up.
I’m going to wager that you eat every day, I know I do, so I’m going to start there, and do my best to start looking at my dinners as a way to make a softer and possibly kinder world that isn’t quite so depressing.
I am absolutely not going vegan.
I am also not cooking tonight. It has caused me enough stress to calculate the perfect ‘casual’ new years day dinner for visiting parentals and a work weary Mr alike, if I had been planning a blow out NYE dinner too it may well have destroyed me. The pressure. The vegetarians. The wonky oven. Horrors. So screw it, I booked a table and everyone can have exactly what they want and if I hadn’t I would literally not be sitting here to type this now. I would probably be crying in the kitchen on my third Scotch. Herein is my first resolution for 2018 and it comes under Be Kind To Yourself. This is a bullshit self help slogan but I’m hijacking it. It means taking that long bath or that cheeky sick day. It means saying no when you need a rest and yes when you need a laugh. It means a slice of gingerbread latte cake and a pornstar martini but it also means a kale salad and a run around the block too. There is only one you, and you should look after you. Don’t feed yourself crap, in an emotional sense yes but in an actual one too. Give yourself a break. Masses of sugar, endless espressos and litres of high fructose corn syrup infused frankenfoods scarfed in a darkened room might sound great but they will make you feel shit. Just stop living off shit all the time. Get up, get green and get outside for a bit of fresh air. Then fine, eat the cake later but not the whole cake. Treat yourself. No really, think about that word, and treat yourself. Look at what is on your plate and think about what it is going to do to your innards. Your innards run your outards, you know. Be nice to both of them.
Next up, Be Kind To Others. Give to charity. Have some buddies over for a meal because it’s nice to have dinner cooked for you- especially if you are usually the host. Most people are much easier to please than you might think and they would love a chance to sample that funny trifle with ginger nuts and dream topping that your nan taught you how to make. Plus you can get rid of one of the eight Pannatones still in the cupboard from Christmas and you know they will bring some wine with them, so everyone wins.
Take your friend out for a long walk or a short stack of pancakes and talk to them. They might need it even if you don’t. Believe it or not just listening to the thought of others is a kind of therapy, it’s called Giving A Shit. It is important to give a shit about other people because it helps you give a shit about yourself. It is easy to focus on the success of others and the failures of yourself too. I do this constantly. I frequently tell my mates not to beat themselves up whilst mentally listing all of the reasons why I should die alone in a hovel whilst self flagellating with some dried brambles. When you care a bit about the pain in other people they become less Super Human and a bit more like you. And life is not all pain of course! You can share the funny and the triumphs too and even if your life hasn’t gone to shit it’s still cool to see someone else doing well. Hang out with other people, and be kind to them.
Give to your local foodbank because some people literally cannot afford to heat their home and eat in the same day. In a world where you can spend £300 on a gold leaf vintage brandy cocktail, this still happens. It is a disgrace. Help them out. Look up your local one here: https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-involved/ways-to-give/donate-food/
Take one of those tubs of Celebrations into work even if you do share an office with a bunch of pricks. Everyone likes Celebrations.
Stop buying cheap, mass farmed meat because those chickens die scared and filthy. Look for the welfare assertions. Ask about origin. Ask about people. Sorry, what? No, I don’t expect you to start cooking with organic hand reared fillet of Caucasian, but food is about farming too and the little creatures aren’t the only ones to suffer for your dinner. At the very least, move your coffee and chocolate to Fair Trade only. Ask where your avocados were grown and research living conditions there. Take a very hard look at where your nuts and spices come from and cut out palm oil out wherever you can because the origin is so hard to assert. Check out Farm Africa and send them a fiver. Be Kind To Others. I will try to.
Finally, Be Kind To Your Planet.
Seriously, you don’t have anywhere else to live, why the hell would you contribute to pollution or global warming or mass extinction?
Eat more plants, because we need plants. Sorry, what? Right now, masses of energy and effort goes into growing plants to feed animals to later kill those animals to make burgers, and we are running out of clean air and topsoil because of this. Google it if you want more info. Eat more plants, and grow more plants. Lay off the meat a couple of days a week. Petition against idiot councils hacking down trees to appease wankers who don’t like cleaning bird poo off their shiny cars. Walk to the shops once in a while. Grow your own potatoes and stop wasting the food you already have.
If nothing else, please buy a long life reusable water bottle. Recycle. Put a jumper on and turn the heating down a degree. Put a bug hotel in your garden and an aloe vera on your windowsill. Nature makes you feel better, it really does, and it needs some help. Be Kind To Your Planet.
So these are my dinner resolutions- less meat and more kindness. How dreadfully pious and self-congratulatory , right?
I am literally about to eat shortbread for breakfast then nip out to fill up my gas hog VW with hydrocarbons as an 18th birthday treat for the old tank. Then I’m going to get smashed and stuffed with curry tonight and probably feel like crap tomorrow which will make me grumpy and disrespectful to my mother. I am not perfect. You aren’t either. Maybe we can do better, maybe we can’t, but we can do kinder.
I wish you all the best in 2018, for you and your people and your planet. Happy New Year, up yer bum, etc.