Eating alone. A sporadic pleasure for most of us these days. I’m not talking about sitting in a Little Chef up the M11, cringing into your bacon buttie, but those rare occasions when you only need to feed yourself. When the necessities of meat and two veg, food groups, nutritional values and portion sizes don’t matter, and you’re free from the demands of bickering family, and dreaded friends with made-up dietary requirements.
While feeding other people is one of the main reasons I love to cook, the times when I can just cater to my appetite are some of my favourites in the kitchen. And best of all, you can put whatever you like in your mouth – something which still gives me a childlike feeling of naughtiness.
Last night for instance, after a filling (and fattening) day judging at the Great Taste Awards, I simply ate an entire punnet of blueberries, washed down with a very cold glass of white wine. Perfect.
A few nights before that I cooked a whole heap of English asparagus, then sprinkled it with sea salt and dipped it in fantastic Glenilen Irish farmhouse butter. The asparagus season is so short, this tends to be a signature meal around this time of year, and really, there’s no need to dress it up with anything else.
Staple solo favourites of mine include proper American grilled cheese sandwiches – pan-cooked rather than done in a toastie machine, poached eggs (doing these properly for lots of people is a pain) and a Vietnamese salad that I always make if I’m in a bad mood. By the time I’ve finished chopping everything, I’ve inevitably forgotten why I was annoyed in the first place.
Other, slightly more shameful indulgences are entire bowls of frozen peas and sweetcorn (a student hangover, and sometimes the only thing I fancy if I’ve been in the kitchen all day at work), a ball of buffalo Mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and torn basil, eaten with Charentais melon, and, most bizarre of all, bowls of brown rice noodles smothered in so much chilli sauce it makes my eyes water.
Not exactly gourmet, but when you spend all day thinking up recipes, it’s rather difficult to cobble together a shopping list that makes any sort of sense.
Does anyone else share my guilty pleasures? Or is it all healthy, balanced meals for one?!