My friends Adam and Alasdair have started a food blog called 101 Ways To Cook Mushrooms, and I recently did a guest post for them about food and memory, which I’m now re-posting here. If you haven’t visited their site before, I would encourage you to do so – it is regularly updated with recipes for delicious and affordable dishes. When they’re not busy in the kitchen, they’re busy blogging on lefty, green political things at Bright Green, which is also well worth a look.
It’s a sign of how fond I am of Adam and Alasdair that I’ve added a blog called 101 Ways To Cook Mushrooms to my bookmarks bar, because even the mention of mushrooms makes me feel a bit ill. I usually find myself nodding along in agreement anytime I read anything by either of my culinary comrades, but featuring fungus and blue cheese as your first recipe? Sorry Adam, I just can’t bring myself to try it.
That said, I am very excited to see how the blog develops. Many of the most treasured moments in my life have involved eating, often while surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Doesn’t everyone have a holiday that was made perfect by the discovery of a wonderful local restaurant? I have not travelled extensively, but everywhere I’ve visited over the years has had something special to offer in terms of great food: wedges of sweet, juicy watermelon, eaten while sitting on the beach in Greece; warm, spicy Falafel with pitta bread, eaten while wandering round the streets of Ramallah; a perfectly seasoned fluffy omelette and chips in a French service station; reindeer steaks washed down with a cold beer in Greenland.
Don’t even get me started on my first visit to the States, where I had my first encounter with a hotdog in Central Park, before heading down to some remote part of South Carolina, where the queue at the supermarket for fried chicken winds right out the door, and they serve oysters by the bucket.
The kitchen has been the heart of every home I’ve lived in, and mealtimes have always been something to take time with. At university my flatmates were all working and studying on completely different schedules, but the evening meal provided a chance for us to slow down and catch up on each other’s news. Even if we were just having a baked potato or a cream cheese bagel, it was the best part of the day.
These days, I am lucky enough to be married to a man who loves to cook as much as I love to eat. I am also lucky enough to live in a country where fresh seafood is readily available. Clams and chorizo, crab linguine and seared scallops with coriander, chilli and lime are all regulars on our home menu.
Obviously not all food memories can be good ones. I would rather forget the seafood paella that gave me three days of food poisoning on holiday in Spain. I can’t say that I’d recommend the cubes of whale blubber that are the Inuit equivalent of chewing gum. And after enduring eighteen hours of labour with nothing more than a few sips of water, I think the NHS could have provided something a little more substantial for my first meal-as-a-mum than a limp ham salad. (You know you’re hungry when you even eat the salad cream, squeezed straight into your mouth from the corner of a plastic sachet.)
So even though I think ‘101 Ways to Cook Mushrooms’ is a terrible name for a blog, which induces mild nausea in me every time I open my browser, I will be reading along with interest. Food is such an important part of our lives, and although few of us have the time to sit down and peruse traditional cookbooks, taking two minutes out of the day to read this blog will surely be a pleasure rather than a chore. I’m really looking forward to seeing some new and interesting recipes, which I hope will help you –and me – build many new, happy food memories.