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The way to a person's heart
is still through their stomach
This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about food.
There are a few reasons why food has been at the forefront of my mind, not least because I absolutely adore the preparation, serving and eating of it, but also due to a few other contributing factors.
Food for thought
Firstly, fellow freelancer Susanne Wakefield launched her fantastic newsletter The Working Lunch to encourage those of us who work from home to take a proper lunch break and treat ourselves to a delicious meal. Every Monday lunchtime, Susanne shares four lunch ideas in a beautifully written and assembled format. If you aren’t subscribed already, I highly recommend it!
I’ve also been reading Hunger by Roxanne Gay, a memoir about the author’s relationship with her weight and food. A very personal and emotionally complex read, Gay tells the story of how her issues with weight gain began as a pre-teen and the impact it has had on her whole adult life. I particularly wanted to focus on the relationship with her mother, who lovingly prepared Haitian cuisine for Gay and her two brothers growing up. In adulthood, Gay’s mother has shared recipes with her so she can recreate the tastes of her childhood - but the recipes are never written down, always without measurements and, as Gay suspects, missing a few steps as they new quite tastes like her mother’s creations.
And finally, the other thing that got me thinking about food, glorious food was my mam’s would-be 62nd birthday, which hit like a ton of bricks earlier in the month. If you’ve been reading a while, then you may know that my mam passed away of Pancreatic Cancer at age 59 in April 2019. While my mam was a very complicated person with a demanding job as a specialist multiple sclerosis nurse and granny to four crazy lads, she was also a very passionate cook.
As a child, I took for granted the meals she put on the table - didn’t everyone get homemade spaghetti bolognese one night and fragrant Mexican chilli the next? That’s not to say she never threw a freezer tea in the oven, but more often than not you’d find her cooking delicious homemade meals night after night.
It was rare to wake up on a Saturday morning and not be greeted by fresh cheese scones, and every family event would get a batch of corned beef pastry squares. Very rarely did she ever follow a recipe, mostly taking inspiration from dishes she’d seen on TV or tried at restaurants, using her own instinct to combine spices and fresh herbs. Even when I dropped the “we’re going vegan” bomb on her back in 2017, she took it as a challenge to recreate my favourite dishes of her in a vegan-friendly way.
I feel extremely fortunate to have picked up the foundations of cooking from my mam, something I have taken for granted until very recently. I operate in a similar way to her, taking inspiration from dishes I see out and about but very rarely following a recipe step-by-step. Perhaps the greatest skill she passed down to me is the ability to look in the cupboard, identify ingredients and create a meal from scratch - I can’t emphasise how useful this is.
So, why am I harping on about food all of sudden? I think we all know that food is more than just sustenance. It’s a way of showing people love - and, perhaps even more importantly, a way of showing yourself love. Taking the time to assemble and eat a meal, whether from scratch or not, is an act of self-care.
From the office dieting debate (one of the worst parts of working in a corporate environment IMO), to the workaholics who don’t have time for a lunch break, food is a huge part of work culture. What we eat fuels everything we do and yet many of us have a very difficult relationship with food. Unattainable body standards and the pressures of diet culture mean that enjoyment is often the last thing on our minds when we eat - I can’t be the only one who sees a dozen Noom ads per day!
Whatever your cooking ability, one thing’s for sure: food is tasty and you deserve to enjoy it. Take time away from your desk today, even if just to tuck into a bowl of soup or a cheese toastie. Not every meal has to be a masterpiece, but dedicating the time to having a good meal is the ultimate form of self-care.
Tell me what you’re having for lunch today over on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email for a confidential chat.
📚 Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee (The Green Bone Saga #3) - Since this is the third instalment of a trilogy, there’s very little I can say about it without spoiling the story. However, I will say if you like the sound of modern fantasy combined with warring gangster families, then this series is for you.
📺 Broad City (Prime Rental) - This week, Lena Dunham popped up on Twitter and I recalled how, back in the day, I was a fan of Girls - her sitcom about four twenty-somethings making their way in New York. Honestly, LD’s controversies over recent years have really taken the shine away from this show, not to mention her lead character is a truly awful person.
Anyway, I saw someone on Twitter recommend Broad City to fans of Girls, a funnier and less problematic show of a similar presence. I watched the whole series this week and I concur - Broad City is excellent and hilarious, I highly recommend it.
📺 The Tick (Prime Video) - Fans of The Boys and Invincible will probably enjoy The Tick, a self-aware depiction of modern superheroes. Don’t expect the most complex of dramatic of tales, just a funny tongue-in-cheek take on the popular superhero genre.
If you run your own business, then you’ll know the struggle of taking and uploading photos of yourself for self-promo (yuk!). Thankfully, I have had a few brand shoots with the wonderful Lauren McWilliams of For You Photography, so I am never short of choice when it comes to adding to my website or providing a headshot to go alongside a press release.
However, before I was able to hire Lauren, I took part in her 5-Day Photography For Your Business Challenge, in which she taught us how to take and edit fantastic brand images for sharing across social media, newsletters and our website.
After over a year, Lauren’s challenge is back! I believe there are very limited spaces, so if you fancy learning how to take photos for your business then I highly recommend it. You can sign up here!
That’s all from me - see you next Wednesday and don’t forget to eat some nice food this week!
Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:
19 January: How do you work?
12 January: Being a morning person is overrated
5 January: Treading lightly into 2022
15 December: How do you compare?
8 December: Lessons on mental health from Henry Cavill
1st December: Give the gift of rest this Christmas
24 November: Who are you?
17 November: Christmas comes early