This month, Dew on the Grass is featuring work on the theme of “Every Morning”. Our first post is a lovely piece written by Chris Yeomans.
Every morning at breakfast, I sit down at the table opposite my shelves of cookery books. Instead of reading cereal packets, my eyes stray to the titles. These people are my friends and heroes – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nigel Slater, Nigella Lawson. My eyes run over the titles: ‘River Cottage Veg Every Day,’ Much More Veg’, ‘Tender’, ‘The Green Roasting Tin’, ‘How to Eat’, ‘Elizabeth David on Vegetables.’ And on and on. My breakfast companions. My comfort. My hope.
What do they represent? Some sort of fantasy ideal world to which I aspire, where I will prepare beautiful, healthy, delicate dishes, honouring the raw materials and nourishing the soul. And connected to this, there is the lifestyle. Have you ever seen Nigel Slater’s garden? It is perfection. If I lived there in that house, well then surely I’d cook? And River Cottage is my personal Field of Dreams, although of course in my world, the animals would be pets and wouldn’t end up in the pot.
Even Mary Berry and Delia – if I could just be more like them. I would whip up a cake at the drop of a hat and serve sweet delicacies to my appreciative friends.
But the truth is that I don’t often open those cookbooks, and I don’t make the recipes within their covers. Life takes over. The quick, the convenient, the familiar and the easy end up on the dinner table night after night. Sometimes I take the books off the shelves and browse through them. I even mark the pages with stickers of good intention. But I don’t do it. I don’t choose even one new recipe, make a shopping list, plan the time. Or, to be honest, sometimes I do buy the ingredients and then never get round to using them. The Marigold Engevita in my cupboard is dated May 2021. I can’t even bring myself to throw it away.
And this, of course, is about aspiring to a more mindful, peaceful, focussed life. I’m trying not to use the word ‘should.’ But if I could clear my diary, stop chasing out to meet friends, sort out my ‘to do’ list, get on top of other household chores…. If I could stay peacefully at home (and I do have a lovely kitchen, so that’s one excuse gone), then would I feel better? Would I be a more spiritual person? Would I be at peace? How many more years’ training do I have to do before I somehow achieve that frame of mind? Oh, dear.
Maybe I can just work on acceptance. Of me and my failings. Maybe this week I’ll try just one new dish.