Tuesday, July 15, 2008

If it's Tuesday....

The last couple of weeks have been many and variegated.

Ok, that doesn't make much sense, but then again, it does: I left London on July 5, stayed in Ennis one night, went out to Doolin, commuted to Miltown for the Willie Clancy from Doolin, came back to Ennis for a few days, and then came to Dublin yesterday. In all likelihood, I will only add to this kind of disjointed narrative in the coming weeks, but at the moment, I have access to wireless internet, so I'm taking advantage of it, if only to say that internet is a rare occurrence for me here at the moment!

Which means that cooking successes don't get blogged about until much later, like the stew Lauren & I made at the hostel in Doolin. It was a little random--partly designed to use up ingredients--but it was fabulous:

4 or 5 smallish regular potatoes
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 leeks (?) and some garlic, sauteed in butter
3 small red peppers, roasted
vegetable stock
a little ground coriander
salt & pepper

Definitely more than the sum of its parts. It needed some oregano, but did fine without, and we crumbled feta cheese on top.

I'm proud to say that I did not have to resort to chips at all during the week.

Eating in Dublin has been fabulous as well, but I'll leave those descriptions for another time. Suffice to say that Lauren & Dan have been feeding me well!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Thinking About Food

I have not been eating well here in London, and it's caught up with me. There, I've said it. Because this place comes with a functioning kitchen (albeit no pots, pans, or dishes), I feel like a bit of a moron having come to this, my second-to-last evening, having eaten only one meal cooked by me, and not some restaurant (in the best case) or, in the worst, by Sainsbury's, Marks & Spencer, or Waitrose.

Call it an experiment in modern life, or call it just plain foolish: whatever its name, these two weeks have got me thinking even more about what I'm eating, and how.

By comparison with most other Americans & Brits, my diet has been fairly virtuous: yoghurt and oat crackers for breakfast, some sort of vegetarian (but not vegan) packaged sandwich for lunch, and for dinner, the prepared food du jour, which on various nights has been pizza, roast chicken & mashed potatoes, various curries (see previous post), or, occasionally, a meal out (a "regular" Indian vegetarian thali, a South Indian vegetarian thali, and pasta with smoked salmon). These meals I have supplemented lightly with apples and more oat cakes, the occasional stroopwafel, and lattes. So I'm not eating at the chipper every day, or drowning in spaghetti bolognaise, or getting all my calories from beer. Nor am I stuffing myself with cakes and sweets.

But all the packaged, not-cooked-by-me food is taking its toll. I'm not sure whether the damage is more psychic or physical: surely having most of my meals come from plastic is not a good plan, and I notice some hormonal weirdnesses I attribute to environmental factors, of which the plastic is certainly one. And of course, I've had the first migraines I've had since I left Cambridge in March. But for someone who cooks at home (or eats home-cooked food) most of the time, there's something very odd and disconcerting about not doing so, about feeling unusually alienated from the kitchen.

Anyway, all this is by way of introducing tonight's meal, which was a little random, but delicious and, I think, a much better plan than anything from a plastic tray.

Tonight, as I left the British Library, I was extremely nauseated and felt weak. Hmmm, what to eat? I suspected I needed some protein, and have also realized that my diet over here has included virtually no soy and no sweet potatoes, and I was craving the latter. So I got a couple of sweet potatoes, some cashews (couldn't find raw, so had to get roasted and salted), and some firm goats' cheese. I baked the potatoes, and inserted slices of the cheese into one of the potatoes (the other I put in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow), and ate some of the cashews while the potatoes were baking. I think it's the best meal I've had since I got to England!

I can't say my dinner will have cured everything, but it certainly didn't hurt.

In other news, I've missed a couple of days in the library, but I'm otherwise well satisfied with the work I've gotten done here.

And I'm still Not Reading the Kee book--but I am reading an entertaining novel about Rome by Stephen Saylor, whose historical novels I highly recommend for anyone with that sort of bent (thanks to Sophie for turning me on to his work).