Dissing St Delia


Before my unexpected trip to Planet Grief, I loved to cook. The merest sniff of a get together and I’d take Jamie, Nigella, Gary, Rick and Gordon to bed with me, along with a pile of fluorescent Post-it notes and start to plan the menu. The duvet flattened by hardbacks, I’d constantly interrupt my husband’s reading by asking him what he fancied (in a culinary sense), pushing recipes under his nose for inspection and late-night discussion.

But now those cookbooks taunt me. Like a eunuch surrounded by pornography I have a vague memory of the urge, but little desire to do anything about it. I no longer cook. I pierce, I open, I assemble but I don’t cook, and nothing in this cuisine-barren landscape makes me feel more like flinging a Le Creuset family-sized casserole at the wall than my ancient copy of Delia Smith’s One is Fun! right down to its perky exclamation mark.

There she is on the cover, presiding primly over a table set for one: a candle; flowers; wine; a white linen place mat and a platter of fruit, smiling the smug smile of a woman who flies solo only occasionally and by choice, as opposed to the bleak drained stare of the recently bereaved facing an empty kitchen night after ruddy lonely night. Perhaps I’m being mean about Delia’s self-satisfied smile. Perhaps it’s nothing to do with how often she has to cook for one, but the thought of the fat royalty cheque on its way.

Some things are sacred: I can’t throw out my husband’s tube of toothpaste, a whiskery razor or his inter-dental brushes, but I have no such emotional attachment to my own possessions. Unable to face whipping up the delights of page 194 (an Individual Alpine Egg), and never having done so in the twenty-six years since buying the book, I decide Delia is destined for Oxfam.

And then a strange thing happens.

Scanning the shelves for other cookbooks to sling, I come across a name I remember with affection, a man who hasn’t opened zillions of restaurants, married a millionaire art dealer (good for her I say!) or flaunted himself on Friday night chat shows.

Nigel Slater.

I reach out and flick through one of his many books, and for the first time in almost four months feel the stirrings of something familiar – the urge to cook.

When dear softly spoken Nigel writes about cooking for one you feel he knows what he’s talking about. He dismisses as depressing those who recommend whipping up a big stew to eat for the rest of the week. He talks about a bowl of broth being ‘spiked’ with chilli; a simple green salad dressed with walnut oil and good bread to mop up the juices; the delight of fresh pasta sprinkled with top-notch parmesan cheese. And oh, happy happy joy joy, he tells me to ignore those who caution against drinking alone.

Fingering the comforting tomes, I decide that whilst I swore I would never fall in love again, I’ll make an exception for Nigel.

Nigel has suggested a pot of brown shrimps in butter popped into an omelette for a tasty supper. Perhaps a few crisp green leaves and a glass of chilled white wine too.

I have the shrimps. I have the eggs. There’s lettuce in the grow bags and a bottle of Saint-Véran in the fridge.

Let the cooking commence.

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Warning! Self Pity Ahead!
October 31, 2011
Putrid Prawns
July 14, 2011
Just For Fairy-girl: Cupcake Recipe
July 11, 2011
Cupcakes of Love
July 10, 2011
Getting Stuffed
July 08, 2011
Salad Days
July 05, 2011
Life is a Minestrone
July 04, 2011
Cooking on Planet Grief
July 03, 2011
Eggs and the City
June 17, 2011

19 Comments

Unhappy foodie
Reply June 24, 2011

Try Nigella. She is a warm hearted woman who has lost her husband, sister and mother. If she can rediscover her love and taste for food then so can we! xx

    Planet Grief
    Reply June 24, 2011

    Well said Unhappy Foodie. I have all Nigella's books and as the splashes on the pages testify, have cooked many things from them. At the moment they remind me of happy gatherings with JS pouring the wine. Hopefully I will be able to look back on those times with a smile rather than torrents of salty tears. xx

Holly
Reply June 24, 2011

You write for all of us ... Delia makes me want to commit GBH. And I don't live too far away from her ... (evil laugh) Even worse than Cooking for One (love your comment about the bloody "!" she can !!!!!!!!!!!! off !!!!) is her Christmas cookbook ... talk about making me feel inadequate. I'm like you, just can't be arsed now. Wouldn't mind snuggling under the duvet with Jamie .... hahahaha.

Your blog is fab babe ... the modern day Bridget Jones .. if Helen Fielding can do it, so can you .. something to think about with your experience ???????

Huge hugs to you today xxxxxxxxxx

    Planet Grief
    Reply June 24, 2011

    Holly - I feel that dissing Delia is a bit like abusing the old Queen Mum - not really the done thing, but I couldn't help it. As Kate Boydell says: They can't touch me for it. I'm a widow! xxx

Holly
Reply June 24, 2011

Hahah, maybe the Queen Mum is actually a good role model for being a (relatively) young widow ... gi-gi's and pink gin, daarhling ???? lol xxx

    Planet Grief
    Reply June 24, 2011

    Hol you are incorrigible. No wonder Len loved you xxx

Pammie
Reply June 24, 2011

Your blog has not made me feel like picking up a pot just yet, but it did make me smile and I am sure when I do feel in the mood, one day, I will definitely give Nigel a look.

Nancy
Reply June 24, 2011

Can completely identify with your lack of desire to cook for one. And you made me smile talking about taking all the books to bed in your previous life to plan menus - me too!!! Great blog. And I'll join 'hate Delia' campaign any day.

Planet Grief
Reply June 24, 2011

Who knew so many of us were (pre our personal Apocalypses) in bed with cookery books and Post-it notes?! xxxx

Hat
Reply June 25, 2011

Count me in on the in bed with cookbooks scenario....but not with Gordon!

I also identify now with the not wanting to cook for one and am mightily encouraged to see that it isn't just me in the "Suddenly Can't Cook-Won't Cook" brigade.

It's a real problem for me because I loved to cook pre-apocalypse and now I can't even look at my books. My long love affair with Jamie, Gary, Nigel, Nigella and of late american baker Dorie Greenspan et al is suddenly over and I will never subscribe to Cooking for One is Fun. Hanging by my toenails from a rafter would be more fun than reading and cooking from that.

Love to all, Hat.

    Planet Grief
    Reply June 25, 2011

    I have to admit that going to bed with Gordon always made me feel slightly dirty!

Al
Reply June 29, 2011

I didn't cook for a few weeks and lovely friends bought me ready meals and after a couple of weeks of that I went back to cooking! I went through the not eating stage and drinking anything I could get my hands on (Hat can probably testify to some of my drunken ramblings!) But now I have a beer, little one and only a couple, no more wine for a while, as for the cooking thing, we loved doing it before and how sad would our boys be if they knew we'd didn't bother now, I'm not just doing it for me I'm doing it for B - I introduced him to all sorts of things and he loved my cooking so for you B I will cook! Come on, get those books out, ok you'll sob your socks off the first couple of times, I did, but like with everything we've had to do we've got through it and out the other side - don't give in to this, we're strong we can do anything we put out minds too
Love to you all Al xx

    Planet Grief
    Reply June 29, 2011

    I tried to make the omelette. The pan was too big for the amount of eggs I used so I ended up sticking the shrimps into what was basically scrambled egg. Not what I intended but delicious nevertheless. Note to self: buy single-sized pan. xx

Hat
Reply July 1, 2011

Morning all, I can testify for Al's mayonnaise with garlic, capers etc....delicious! The thing is my attempts at cooking post-apocalypse have all turned out to be pretty dire...lack of concentration I suppose.

As for my inspired idea to buy a hot chicken last Friday....it sat in the fridge all week and then it fed Steven (Segal) the Seagull last night, not quite what I had in mind but he was happy.

Love Hat xxx

Al
Reply July 1, 2011

Hat!! The truth about the chicken ....... finally! you are a bad Hat - I'll turn up one day and make you cook under my supervision ........ I don't think you want me to do that do you?!
PG - good going with the omelette at least you didn't give up, slowly does it and if I could just mention the jasmine scented bath and fluffy slippers - Running and hiding!!
Love to you PG - you're doing a grand job woman, we all are xx

Hat
Reply July 2, 2011

Ok Al come whenever you like but when you come just bring some food will you? xx

Afternoon PG, I made some scrambled eggs in your honour yesterday. xx

    Planet Grief
    Reply July 2, 2011

    I've added a new page to the blog: Cooking with Planet Grief.

    Photos of my attempts at cooking for one. I suspect that the accompanying photos will show portions that ain't big and ain't pretty.

    PG x

      Al
      Reply July 2, 2011

      Bloody hell! looks like I'm going to be busy with my mobile grief catering business - I'll just pack the car with goodies and Jim and Frank, they both like a nice trip out!

      Should I take a photo of tonights tea, Lamb with Jersey spuds in butter and fresh mint with salad of red pepper, red onion, cucumber, sauted mushroms, garlic & olives oh and the special mayo? or am I seriously pushing my luck now??
      Love to all xxxx

Planet Grief
Reply July 2, 2011

Stop it! You are teasing me with your menu.