I love a new book.
The physical kind, where you have to bend back the cover page with a bit of force so it won’t close back on itself as you read. I love the feel of the crisp paper and the sound each page makes as it is turned. But I also love well worn, dog eared books, that have been passed around to others to read. They carry with them a certain elegant perfume that is a mark of having stood the test of time, of having survived the onslaught of best seller lists, to be loved and enjoyed again and again, generation after generation.
Reading an electronic book just doesn’t feel the same to me. Scrolling or “flipping” pages on a backlit flat-screen is not the same as physically turning pages, feeling the book fall forward in my tired hands, and sliding the book across my bedside table. To me, there is a certain final satisfaction in letting the back cover of a book come to rest against the stack of pages that preceded it.
I also love, love, love to cook. Not the everyday meals type of cooking, but the type of cooking that takes a day!
The opportunities to cook like that are rare in these post children days, but one such chance is on New Years Eve. On this day, once a year, I am allowed an indulgent day of cooking. My hubby and the grandparents whisk my children away to the beach, the pool, the park, anywhere else but the holiday unit kitchen to give me free reign. I switch on some tunes and channel my inner MasterChef as I turn my hand at the recipes that have caught my eye over the year.
I get inspired by recipes brought to life by amazing photographs and intriguing flavour descriptions. I pin and file indulgent recipe ideas when I scroll past them or see them in a magazine during the year. When we finally reach our post-Christmas holiday destination I start scrolling through my collection. I spend a few hours planning out the menu generally limited by the “equipment” available to me in the unit – although I have been known to improvise and strain fine soups through a clean Chux! I have to confess that I travel with my Global knife, microplane and my stick blender (and my hubby has given up arguing with me about that!).
To me, the true magic of cooking is not in the beautifully crafted methods, the carefully worded recipe title, or in the immaculately styled food shot, but it is in the aroma of freshly shredded basil, of onions cooking in a pan, in the ways in which flavours can be changed by a dash of salt or a squeeze of lime. It is the difference between the idea of cooking and the joy of actually cooking AND eating!
I guess that is one of the reasons why I am a MasterChef tragic. I love watching people put their “everything” on hold for a few months to pursue their cooking dreams in an environment where they cheer each other on. I pick up new technique ideas, get inspired by contestants experimenting with new flavour combinations and I drool over their dishes (and then I go pin their recipes).
But watching the judges oohing and ahhing over how amazing things smell in the kitchen and THEN watching them taste the food – kill. me. now!!! The close up ‘signature’ facial expression shots that go on and on drive me up the wall – and don’t even get me started on George and his food pincers! Sheesh! I want to taste the food not watch others eating it!! I’d even settle for smell-o-vision – that dimension alone would do. But without smelling or tasting the food, we are left as mere voyeurs not “reality tv” partakers.
There is a massive difference between a physical book and an e-book, between a photograph of beautifully plated food and sharing real food with friends, between watching things on tv or Facebook or Instagram and living actual life.
I am not a major fan of New Year’s resolutions but I do love to “turn a new leaf”. So, this year I have decided to ground myself more in real experiences rather than in the “endless” scroll that keeping up with social media life can be. I plan to get back to more tasting, smelling, eating and sharing. To feel the grass (or sand) beneath my bare feet. To get soaking wet in the summer rain. I will pause to feel my lungs fill with air and I will know the release that comes when I exhale and let go. I will hold my hubby’s hand more often. I will give hugs and say I love you. I will go for morning walks. And I will finally book my hubby and I into salsa dancing classes before our knees give out!
As we all turn the page on a New Year what will you resolve to do (or give up) to bring a bit more “reality” back into your life?