Monthly Archives: November 2009


When I feel fragile I need a hug or something. Affection is something physical becoming something sentimental. Eating is affection.

I don’t like the phrase comfort food.

This morning is grey. I drank strong tea, one sugar. I had a digestive biscuit with it. Then I had porridge with cinnamon in.

beef, Haut-Médoc

or, Too Much

Sometimes relatives are darlings. Altogether I’ve been sent about hundred pounds so I can “enjoy the Christmas parties” and “have a fab time with my friends” – I hope I do. I now have a little pile of neatly handwritten letters on my desk I’ll send tomorrow which say how grateful I am. I am grateful.

I wasn’t planning on spending quite that much on Christmas parties; but now, I probably shall. This evening, I walked with Johan to New Hall, where he’s in a play at the moment. On the way back I stopped in the Cambridge Wine Merchant on Bridge Street. It’s refreshing to go there; I feel I know by rote the King’s Parade stocklist of claret. Feeling flushed, I thought I’d get a good bottle. I chose an Haut-Médoc: “Chateau D’Avensan, 2005”, £11, so not too extrav. It has some Petit Verdot in the blend. A bit of Petit Verdot or Cabernet Franc seems to make for a more interesting wine than just CabSauv/Merlot – but I don’t know.

When I got back I cooked a bit of fillet steak I got from Sainsbury’s. What a treat, I thought; and a good thing to eat on my own, especially as J doesn’t care for beef. For the sauce I used Elizabeth David’s simple little recipe in French Provincial Cooking for champignons à la crème (a few sliced mushrooms and shallots, white wine, a bit of cream and parsley – good on its own with little triangles of fried bread, she says). But the beef wasn’t good. So much for Taste the Difference.
Nonetheless the wine’s delicious. I made a tomato salad, too; it’s good given it’s made with winter tomatoes. I’m dying for some baguette to dip in the dressing, now thinned with the clear, vibrant juice of the tomatoes, but I’ve resolved to stay off bread for a bit. The tomatoes from the market, incidentally, sold on their vines and grown in Britain, are so vastly superior to the Dutch supermarket ones I feel almost belligerent about it. But the avocado, which I bought from Saino’s, with a just little vinaigrette – a scrap of garlic crushed in salt, red wine vinegar and good olive oil – was ripe and gorgeous. Perhaps I should have just had a couple of avs, the salad, and a few glasses of the wine. Apart from anything, you feel ED might have approved.

I like the feel of restraint when you have a dinner of that kind. This evening’s meal, with its dire beef, and avocado before and square of chocolate after gave me that inexplicable sense of completeness and satisfaction you get from, I think, the simplicity of having “a couple of avs” or “just an omelette” for supper. There’s nothing to stuff yourself with; and this has been a term of too much bread and pasta, things I always feel compelled to supply in abundance. You feel pleasantly full but not groaning. My meal’s components were rich in themselves, but not stodgy. I like that kind of eating. I feel, perhaps wrongly, that it’s quite French, and think, The French appreciate food but aren’t fat. I’m worried about eating today; you can probably tell.

There’s half a bottle of wine left. I’m not going to drink it. Too much bread and pasta, perhaps – but almost certainly too much wine. For the last week I’ve been on a bottle a night. It’s too much.


The pictures in the last nine columns I think were the best thing about them. Each Friday I panicked because I knew that another


I have just spent Michaelmas term at Cambridge being food editor for TCS, The Cambridge Student. Each week I wrote something I hoped was good, but it often wasn’t.

I want to carry on writing about food – so I suppose I shall. Here goes.