With Christmas just days away, it’s been all about food, lately … even in my writing. Christmas preparations and end-of-year functions have absorbed some of my writing time, but the writing I did do, was about food. A feast, in fact. My character, Amy, cooked an Italian feast for a friend, and boy, was my mouth watering by the time I’d finished writing that. I ended up cooking some of the things my characters ate – fried butternut squash flowers stuffed with butternut squash risotto and arancini (made with the same leftover risotto) served on squashed tomato sauce with basil. It took me longer than usual to write this chapter but I enjoyed every second.
The next day, I wrote a scene set in the café where Amy works, and while I didn’t make the same salad depicted here in my teaser below, I made another you’ll see in the pictures below.
Amy looks up from the crispy pork belly Thai salad she’s plating up. The scents of tangy lime and fragrant herbs pull at her stomach, reminding her that she’s had no breakfast. Not that she’d been hungry first thing after everything she’d consumed the night before. But the meltingly soft pork promises a satisfying crunch followed by a salty kick, and it’s all she can do not to pop a piece in her mouth.
I prefer to make as many gifts as possible, rather than buy ‘stuff’ no one needs. So this week, I’ve been making:
I’ve also been making soy candles, salt and sugar body scrubs, lip balms and chocolate liqueur. The last one is special indeed. The others just smell good.
We’re having a Christmas party at work tomorrow. Since I’m eating very little meat these days, I volunteered to make salads (so we would get good ones, rather than cheap potato salad). This meant, that instead of working at the arts centre, I got to cook at home today: Roasted beetroot and pumpkin salad with baby spinach, pinenuts and haloumi; quinoa tabouleh; and my special roasted potato salad (with and without bacon); zucchini noodles with feta. I was so busy I didn’t even think about writing! And I’ve just realised I’ve barely eaten. Funny how that happens.
Blue Eyes wanted me to make him paella at the weekend. I’ll probably be writing a paella scene into my book, so this photo is research.
And I’ve just discovered the Ottolenghi cookbooks. The salad below is inspired by one in the Plenty More book, with the addition of nectarines fresh from our garden.
So, tell me, which is your favourite book or movie about food? I love books like Chocolat by Joanne Harris, Marlena de Blasi’s memoirs, the movies Babette’s Feast and Romantics Anonymous. They are almost as good as eating itself. I only hope my food writing can make people hungry the way those books do.
For those of you who celebrate it, Merry Christmas. For those who don’t enjoy the holiday season. Above all, spend time with good people, eat good food, stay safe, think of others in need and make memories.