Letter to Christmas Food

My Mince PiesMy own imperfectly delicious mince pies…

Dearest One

It is time now to explore and exonerate you, to devour and venerate you, to eat you up, digest you down, and inwardly ingest and digress on all that you are to me…

Christmas food is feast and I can feast upon these words too, calorie free, yet still savoured deliciously and selfishly, gobbled up again and again, and all this with no widening girth, no indigestion or regret, a word diet eaten and repeated in the best possible way…

Food, when you listen to it, tells stories… and Christmas food harks us back to history, hyperlinked to a past, long ago forgotten, although eaten and excreted by our own ancestors.

Pick over archaeological sites and find remnants of millennia old meals of bones and seeds and cooking pots. And now pick up your fork and eat a Christmas meal today to ingest a more recent history, albeit more quietly and neatly.

In my Westernised world at this time of year I am warmed through by winter spices in pies, puddings and mulled wine. They are the devices that have travelled down time and along trade routes, carried on beasts of burden through deserts and sent in ships across seas to enliven the dull winter diet of my pale historical counterparts here on this island land.

Each pie, each pudding, and each component on my Christmas plate has a history, a fascinating story of currency and enrichment underlying the aroma and flavour which has been tasted by so many, through so much darkened winter time.

Then we marry this history with our own recent traditions, of coming together to celebrate Christ’s birth and the ensuing mercantile madness of gifting and wrapping and eating to excess, so that we fall in to a snoring afternoon sleep after lunch on the 25th of December, full as we are, of thousands of Christmas calories.

And we have our social and cultural traditions and create our own intimate ones too… I make mince pies and snowballs to prepare for the big day, and then eat ham (cooked in cider on Christmas eve) along with my turkey on my Christmas plate. There is then a long pause of several hours before Christmas pudding is eaten. Then what little room is left in my stomach later that same night, is filled with tinned salmon and cheese. It is the comforting ritual of my Groundhog Christmas, to be repeated without erring or swaying from the pre-destined foodie plot of many previous eating years.

Before we get to feasting, we must literally prepare and over many years I have learned to do this slowly, languorously and easily, completing each component in turn, relishing the gorging gratification to come, by setting out my laden larder in advance. Mince pies are made then, stuffing done now, things bought in readiness and stored in order, all components waiting for the blazing heat of an oven for their moment of gourmet glory when they are all bought together to celebrate and complete the ritual on the plate.

So Christmas food to me is a blandishment as well as nourishment; it is a sign of love, and lore, it is history and culture. It is a wanted necessity, as well as a glorious luxury. So there it is, as always with me, that strange dichotomy of love and difficulty. Because my friend, you know that I have a complicated relationship with you, as I do with just about everything in my life.

And there I was a few nights ago, quietly cursing you… You see I was up to my elbows in a foodie fuddle, flinging flour around the kitchen in the name of creating the most perfect mince pies. Blithely tying on my apron and feigning Domestic Goddessery in my Christmas kitchen, it was instead, all mess and stickiness…

But I persevered: I experimented, added, stirred, chopped and kneaded. I rolled, cut, then filled, and finally there was the tenderly triumphal moment of committing my precious labours to the waiting oven.

They weren’t perfect those particular pies, but oh my goodness, they were delicious. Friends had pie-gasms whilst consuming them and went silent for seconds of ingestment and wonder; whilst I on the other hand, experienced the smuggery of creation, of earth mother provisioning and the satisfaction of an empty plate, with a just few forlorn crumbs left as the legacy of pies past.

I love Christmas cooking and have my big day down to a tee, tying together all my provisions and preparations onto one plate of perfection, served with relish and a flourish and on the same old Christmas crockery that we air for one day every single year.

And then I pay the price with indigestion and tightened clothes and extra winter fatted weight. It’s not just about the Big Day, but the Christmas build up, with chocolates never more than 2 feet away from reach and Christmas dinners, lunches and buffets to be feasted on and quietly, farted out…

You would think that after all my time on this planet, with all those Christmases under my gut bending belt, that I would remember; yes, you would think that my stomach would remind my brain that such fullness is disastrous, yet in my stomach also lies my heart, so the stomach says nothing; it just senses survival and suggests I keep eating and savouring and so simply stores all the nourishment as fat for a long winter famine that will probably never arrive.

So as my gastronomic voyage through Christmas Food comes slowly to an end, and as I boast of plenty and excess, I now want to give thanks for all that I have, which is in every way so much, when I appreciate that there are many who have so little. So I give some food away too, so that other humans and animals may also have a feasting festive Christmas, in what ever place they may be in head, land or heart.

For food, be it Christmas or of any other sort, is love to me and love is always meant to be shared.

With love and burps…

Sandra xXx

PS: As a Christmas Gift, I’m sharing the gifts of my writing and learning to entertain you, make you think and to deepen the Christmas experience in my capsule ebook. A Peachey Christmas is a collection of (previously published) blogs along with new material, gathered into one, gorgeous Christmas capsule…  All you need to do to claim your free electronic copy is to fill out a few details here and then it will wing its’ way back to you.

Letter 22: To Comfort

22 February 2012

Dear Comfort

Well I’ve just got to come straight in with the compliments … what a gorgeous word you are; your beautiful cadent form is just gorgeousness personified …

What a glorious gift, what a soft, tender and giving thing you are … yes, the very thought of you makes my heart glad …

One of the many things I love about you Comfort, is the many forms you may manifest in.  You can be a hug or a healing, you can be light or you can be calming, sweet darkness.  Comfort is a recognised voice, a sense of familiarity and of a knowing. 

Comfort too can be a hot drink, a glass of wine, a chunk of chocolate … the kiss of loving, warming food.  Comfort food … mmmmmmmm …  A comfort of sausage and mash wrapped in a gravy of oniony flavour; or of pure cold ice cream caressing the tongue and the throat, melting into sensory pleasure.  A treasure of taste to be savoured and devoured, inhaled and duly digested.

I say, so sincerely Comfort, that I’m very sorry that I am not always faithful to you and am sometimes forgetful of you … I will often toil and trade and treat you like an affair, a guilty pleasure kept secretly for free and forgotten days, when really you are a necessity – my true love, my joy and my ultimate sanity. At those forgetful, regretful times, I push through life, I thrust and force, I cajole and cry.  These are hard things to do my dear Comfort, and yet so often I do them to myself, being my own willing victim, enslaving myself to time, to effort and to (non comforting) reward. 

Now there’s the thing – is comfort a reward or a right?  Is it a luxury or a necessity?  Is it a guilt or a given?  Is it rebellion or heaven? 

Comfort is love, in many faceted forms and love is my birth right, so comfort be mine and let me be true to you.  Ah comfort, how shall I celebrate you?  Simply or in a spa?  I shall take you and make you in all guises and remember to wrap you around me, to share you, to prioritise you, to eulogise you, to practise you frequently and blissfully.  Oh comfort what shall we do?  Let’s make ‘love’ (and yes that can be a comfort too!)

And your form can be gorgeously simple and shape you into new names … here is one of my very favourites … I shall breathe this gently … the breath of a ‘blankie’, yes, the very caress of comfort enveloping me, making the corporeal me less real.  Softness defined into a loving square of comfort and joy, of pride and possession, my very own selfish delight, wrapping and binding me as a gift. Draped and shaped around me, a new me, yielding and melting and slowed … ah comfort.

Comfort be my very own, engaging my senses with ease and grace and gratitude.  Comfort be long, comfort be often, and comfort be continual. 

Comfort be there in the fabric of my being, not sought after when I am sore or tired or lost; for with you there, as my constant companion, there will be more light and less loss, more energy, more fun and more lingering, yellow sun. 

Comfort is complete and utter surrender to a yummy moment of love, an act of complete submissive tenderness; so seek comfort in your surroundings – take yourself to where comfort resides and call it to you, lure it in with love, love for yourself, for your life, for this cradled, cosseted moment.  The moment of heart’s ease, this single eternity of forgetfulness for everything except this delicious, comforting now.

And what is comfort?  Comfort is a thousand things and it is one thing.  It is various and it is simple.  It is common and it is golden.  It can be resting your head on a cat’s purring form, paddling in the sea, listening to beautiful music: lifting you up, resting you down, flattening out the undulations and tribulations of life, filling you up, filling your senses with nonsensical, whimsical joy.  Comfort, you are relaxation, slow tempo, warmth or coolness, gravity geared or stillness.

Comfort you are the very realisation and personification of slow joy; a gift, a treasure, a genuine pleasure.

Ah comfort, I love you and that you love me too is incontrovertible, for you always welcome me in with hugging, open arms and so too now, my dearest one, I’ll embrace you.  Yes, here is my commitment – to comfort and to love.

   Yours sweetly and softly …

      S xx

PS: If you want the comfort of Peachey Letters in book form – follow the link here to find out more…

Letter 12: To Food

12 February 2012

Dearest Food

If music be the food of love play on … if music be the love of food, game on … if food be the driving force of all else, then I’m a very happy girl …

Food drives our physical life, it fuels this temporal body and is one of the longest, most enduring loves of my life …

You see it all starting with a tiny baby, curling its toes with pleasure at milk time and then moving on to the natural strangeness of solids.

It is a fundamental love and though YOU may eat to live, I most definitely live to eat and I LOVE to eat.  So call me a gourmet, call me a foodie or call me a greedy hog … that is how it goes with me.

There is the pleasure of preparation … first the shopping – the choosing, the selection, the lingering dreamings of meals to come.  Then gathering everything together for the feast: assembling, fettling, chopping and stirring the raw elements into a new, delicious entity.  Testing, tasting, tempting yourself with what is to come.

The impatience of waiting and finally … readiness, yummy-ness and happiness, as you consume your labour of love.

Taste … an oft neglected sense.  Often ignored, when it should be pampered, praised and perfected for the pleasure and glory of sustenance.

So I devour my love in every way.  I treasure and hoard cook books, slavering and anticipating over pages of pictures and food words.

For years I have pursued ingredients … herbs, flavourings and spices of every hue.  My freezer is filled with future joy.  I love the unusual, the divine, the out of the ordinary.  Then, when routing through the hoarding places, there are numbers which read ‘out of date’ – by years and years and so, I harden my heart and toss them out, unconsumed, unloved and left to moulder in the outside world.

Eating is an entertaining, an ecstasy. It takes you on voyages of new adventures, outside your door … in its’ pursuit I haunt and hunger around restaurants, cafes and tea shops, regard the menus – the very lists of love – and then wait for the love to arrive and so to begin.

Cooking for someone is an act of love … you are nourishing, treating and testing them.  And for ‘cook’ read make a slice of toast or create an elegant 5 course dinner party: the whole range of complexity is included here – it is ALL love.  Though the toast MUST be made from the best bread, taken close to burning point, then spread to every corner with melting butter; part soft, part crisp, all delicious …

Food is reason enough to share, to come together.  A social mixture, a treasuring of family and friends.  The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach … yes food is proof of love, to man or woman or child.  Food celebrates and food cements the tide marks of all our lives.

Food forms the structure of our days, punctuating our playings and our labours.

Food takes you on journeys, food tells the stories of a place, of it’s history and flavours and impacts.

Food is always there for you, greedily needed, a constant craving.

So what ever way you look at it … food is love.

   For ever yours

       Sandra

[PS: Dear Reader, if you liked this and my other letters, you can buy your own book of them by following this link…]