I had a date with Julia Child today. A woman about whom I know very little, so the veracity of the account that was presented to me I cannot verify. However, one thing that the producers, director and each of the cast hammered home was that Julia Child enjoyed food. In Paris as a diplomat's wife, the bored and restless Mrs Child decided to learn how to cook, and not just cook, but to graduate from Le Cordon Bleu. Paris, late 1940s couture and French food. There is absolutely nothing in that sentence that does not make me involuntarily salivate.
I have a passionate relationship with food. I love growing it, buying it, tasting it, touching it, smelling it, creating it and dressing it. I love cooking for others especially, love doing fiddly things to make flavours pop and making aromatic chiffonades just because they look and smell beauiful.
I love the sensation that is tearing apart a warm, ripe peach with my fingers, the flesh separating easily, warm rivulets of sticky syrup rolling down my wrist. The Summer tang and rich heady sweetness. Popping bursting black cherries into my mouth and using tongue and teeth to lave each tiny morsel off the stone.
I love rolling dough for pastry, thick and cool and buttery under my palms as I knead it together, hands powdered in ice cold flour straight from the freezer. Of pinching the edges together when I make a pie and cutting out decorative leaves to sugar and caramelise on top.
I love the way a perfect chocolate truffle melts in your mouth. The way it coats your tongue in an orgy of sensation. The way the dark, bitter cocoa leaves its magic aftertaste after the bomb of sweetness detonates.
I love cooking rich beef stews from the toughest but tastiest cuts of meat. The way that meat that has been rolled in lightly seasoned flour and then dusted off feels. The way it browns and fills the air with a thick juiciness that causes rumbles deep down in your belly. The way that garlic and onions marry perfectly in a pan with one half oil and one half butter, and how much sweeter it is when you substitute leek.
I love roasted beetroot and the way it turns everything around it lurid pink. Ditto thick syrupy rhubarb, reduced down in a sweet sticky red wine and ladled over icecream or natural yoghurt.
I love cooking food for others and setting a table lush with special plates and cutlery and crystal that catches the light. Of placing heavy platters of food in the middle that smell of spice and warmth and effort. Of laughing around food. Of feeling satisfied and soporific after, the way conversation is slower, lazier, drowsy.
Now that I'm back under 70kg again, I feel unashamed in posting this. I think, lately, I've been unconcerned about what I eat and have cooked and eaten solely for pleasure and have found strangely, that the weight is going with it. I still have lush curves and I am rounded all over, no straight firm lines anywhere, but I am enjoying them. Because I'd rather spend a bit longer having to find clothes that I like, than to miss out on the rich, almost carnal pleasure of food.