Tuck in

In Food on May 31, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Rice in a bowl on a white backgroundLooking back I see I started my pantry stripping program back on April 1st, so I’ve been going at it for two months and I’m not done yet.

There is quite a lot of space in the freezer now – I can actually pull open the drawers without them being blocked by big bags of frozen chicken stock – and the dry goods area is much depleted, but there’s still a way to go.

I’m buying bread, fish, meat, dairy produce, fruit and veg – but that’s it. And one bottle of every day olive oil, although I’ve made myself start using the very special bottle I bought last year in Istria, Croatia, for salads, which is a big deal for me.

According to my normal form, I would have saved it for best for so long it would have been rancid by the time I cracked it open.

We’ve had some really good meals, including a curry night when I used up two different bits of leftover curries and made some dahl from the lentil mountain still in the cupboard. That was a feast.

The most slung together dinner we’ve had was bacon, brown rice and frozen peas, but it really wasn’t that bad. The food groups were covered and it was rather tasty – it just didn’t look very glamorous. I was tempted to put it on Instagram as a statement.

(I secretly want to start a new app called Uglygram, because sometimes the Loveliness of My Life thing gives me the shits and I’m as guilty of it as the next poseur.)

It really was a perfectly good dinner, but I felt like some kind of failure for serving something so under realised. It was three bits of perfectly acceptable food sitting on a plate – but it wasn’t a ‘dish’, or a ‘style’ of cuisine.

My sense of failure and shame about serving it to my family – who were perfectly happy to chow down on three of their favourite staples – made me realise how self conscious we’ve become about turning every flipping meal into a lifestyle statement.

Of course I prefer my dining table to look like a photo from an Ottolenghi book, but sometimes it’s fine just to have some nourishing grub.

  1. Bravo. Apparently one should consume a bottle of olive oil within one year or it goes rancid.

  2. Nah it’s ok, we all know Instagram is the sanitised version. It helps me when my life is not very ‘Instagram’ to focus on the the loveliness of others’ posts- makes me happier ! But I am careful to follow folks who show lovely, quirky or different views. Like you 🙂

    • I love Instagram too – especially people who post with humour. There are some who are so ME ME ME and did I mention? MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE I find it hilarious and it gives me a laugh in another way. I do not ever want to see another picture of a bloody flower though…

  3. So true. The best tasting meals are often the least photogenic ones!

  4. Good going. I’m with you on the desire to plate up something out of a restaurant every night – but I really don’t care what it looks like as long as it tastes good. Also with you on Instagram – I’m starting to tire of it. I love ‘house porn’ – but that’s about it. I find I’m starting to choose my laptop – blogs, IG, pinterest – over a good, book and that concerns me. What about you?

    • Similar, except I always read last thing as I can’t sleep if stimulated by Insta, Twitter, TV. I still love Insta, but try to limit my viewing. Could spend all day on it…

  5. Gosh Maggie, you obviously have a much bigger pantry than us- I joined you on the clear out and the cupboard was well and truly bare after 28 days. It was well worth doing though and I think I will do it a couple of times a year as a sort of pantry spring clean and to make sure nothing goes out of date.

    I know what you mean about food presentation – one night recently I had bought salmon steaks and then realised the only veg I had were sweet potatoes and carrots. I don’t think anyone other than me was worried about the meal being completely orange but it felt like a fail to me ( they probably wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t pointed it out in exasperated tones!)

    • Ha ha ha. That’s so funny. The thought of all that orange food is killing me.

    • ha ha ha I LOVE your orange dinner. I once had lunch with Giorgio Armani in his private apartment and all the food was white… and no accident either. And my old French boss when I was at ELLE used to do a pink dinner party menu which was his signature… So I think you should tell yourself that orange is a trending colour (which it is) and you were doing an orange dinner.

      • I’m loving this colour themed approach. I forgot to ask Bollyknickers if she served orange juice or pale ale as the accompanying beverage.
        Was the Armani fish or chook served on white plates or perhaps a minimilast grey with a silver stripe? A pink food party sounds divine. Borscht perhaps followed by poached salmon with pink eye spuds. Strawberry gelato for pudding and all washed down with pink champagne.

      • All white casa Armani, but the cutlery was sleek modern silver…

      • If only I had thought of it, annelouise! I could have dug out the peach coloured table cloth and napkins from the 1980’s and napkin rings with silk tiger lilies attached and served Buck’s Fizz. Fortunately most of my decorative excesses happened before the internet!

  6. I need to do a pantry clear out… Possibly moving house at the end of the year so I should start now, right?!

  7. If it tastes good and is reasonably nourishing, so be it. No problem with that. And we all know that the most beautifully plated concoction is going to look like roadkill anyway within 2 minutes of serving.

    • I hate it when I go to someone’s house and they’ve done poncy plating up…

      • I just saw your lovely blue and white dilemma on Instagram – funny, as I am sitting here pricing a load of blue and white bits and pieces to drag along to my little stall tomorrow (and right in front of me is my precious old pine dresser sagging with the weight of T&G Green stripy things that I can’t bear to sell).

        I think I need a trip back to the UK to stock up there – much more fun. And cheaper. Except for the airfare.

  8. I’ll have you know I’ve made quite a career out of using under realised food. And that’s the point. We are so busy pretending to live an aspirational life, we have a sense of failure about *only* rice and bacon. It’s a road to madness, when really all your family needs in life is a meal they can enjoy the taste of for long enough that you can sit everyone down at the table and do that other under realised activity – talk to one another.

    If you are ever worried about how ordinary your food looks, remember what happens on Masterchef – taste will trump mess every time. EVERY. Time.

    • Good on you. It’s the aspirational thing that can be stressing…. Instagram is such an edited version of people’s lives. I do love it – both doing it and looking at it – but it does add to the load of expectation we pile on ourselves.

  9. I wholeheartedly agree! In fact, on my tumblr I collect ‘honest’ food photographs.

  10. Indeed! Well done! I was actually looking for your story about fashion magazines the other day–the one about how they make people’s lives appear perfect (when of course, they’re not) because I wanted to show it to a severely depressed friend, who spends way tooo much time on Instagram and feels that her life is crap in comparison to everyone else’s—and I was all like OMG I neeeeed to show her that story!* Instagram has turned everyone into bloody editors and your life is FINE!!! Fuck instgram and facebook and ‘life editing’. People are like goddamn curators these days. When I see an unflattering photo of a truly gorgeous person my heart sings.

  11. Maggie the meal you describes reminds me of what I cooked last night – risoni, bacon, onion & peas, super tasty & only takes 15 mins to get it on the table. Simple, quick & a real crowd pleaser!

  12. Brown rice with bacon and peas, what’s not to like! (And you would have added a touch of onion, garlic and/or chili?)

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