I’ve just eaten a rather eccentric lunch. The last meat off the chicken – the bones and bits now simmering nicely in the stock pot – with warmed-up gravy poured over, with a side of last-possible-day salad leaves and beetroot.
It was absolutely delicious.
When I was assembling this Leftovers Lil repast I wondered whether I would want to admit to it, but with my tummy now full and smiling, I feel no shame. And it’s actually made me realise something.
We’ve all got caught up in a collective delusion that every meal we eat has to be some kind of landmark food event. It doesn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I love beautiful cookery books and great food telly as much as everyone else. I adore fabulous food shops, farmers markets, artisan bakeries, ethnic eating adventures and all the other joys of lifestyle food.
I remember when it all started, in the 1990s with the glory days of Vogue Entertaining – when the peerless Sharyn Storrier-Lyneham was editor.
That was one of the defining experiences of my magazine life. Up there with the first few years of The Face and Wallpaper mag. Game changingly fab.
I still set those pages as my own entertaining benchmark. I want my table to look that generous, the food that tempting (and unfussy), my guests to look that happy.
But a quick lunch on my own at home, grabbed between stints of work and putting a few loads of washing on? Random bits of chicken and microwaved gravy is fine.
I wasn’t about to Instagram my plate (don’t get me started…), but it tasted great and filled the gap. Does it matter that it doesn’t have a name, or cultural reference? No. Sometimes a bit of simple grub is all that we need.
I don’t mean Cup-a-Soup, but as long as the ingredients you cooked with in the first place are good (cf the horrid potatoes in my earlier post), unadorned leftovers are fine.
So that was today’s revelation from Cooking My Pantry, an experience which is turning out to be giving me far more than clear shelves. Now nearing the end of Day 5, with some frozen fish and spinach planned for dinner, I’ve still spent less than £10 on food this week and I’m starting to understand a lot about the way we shop for food – and why.
Really annoyingly, I’m going away tomorrow, for at least a week, so I’ll have to leave the rest of my food mountain where it is for now. But when I’m back, Operation Clearance will continue.
Meanwhile, please tell me your stories and keep sending those links.