I've been on a self-imposed cookbook hiatus. (I have a wee bit of a cookbook habit.) But I broke it this week when I bought GP's new one, It's All Easy. Her recipes are always good. Really good. And foolproof. And the recipes in this new book are so spot on to how I like to cook and eat these days that it felt like it was written especially for me.
But when I read the introduction it seemed clear that this book would also hit home with many of my friends, sister-in-laws, clients (pretty much 95% of the people in my circle) who also strive to juggle it all (work, family, personal aspirations) and ultimately find some simplicity in their hectic day to day lives.
"When I sat down to start this book, I had been polling my friends and colleagues on what sort of cookbook they were looking for. These friends all seemed to have a common culinary yearning: They wanted a collection of recipes that they could prepare easily. They wanted to find themselves in the kitchen at the end of their overextended day and be able to prepare something delicious and quick.
Their lives are packed with responsibility and work and children. And yet, they were not willing to give up on the moment – the small beautiful moment of preparing food with some care, by one's own hand, and sitting down to eat it with the people they love. Essentially, they yearned for the moment that is the antidote to all their busyness. A simple reset of the compass toward wholeness and quality at the end of the day, before the next morning comes, bringing with it the dizziness of being pulled in so many directions, a splitting of priorities.
Everywhere I go, everyone seems to be inundated with obligation. Everyone is under an intense amount of pressure to do multiple things simultaneously, and to be doing them at an impossibly high standard. It seems to be a facet of life for our generation: hyper-responsibility. I'm not quite sure why we have done this to ourselves or how/why this drive was imparted to us, but we seem to be living lives where our self-imposed standards leave little time for daydreams and meanderings. We yearn for that lost aspect of life, before smart phones hijacked picnics and walks on the beach. Before media, in all its new forms, made you so aware of what everyone else was doing that the magic of solitude gave rise to FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
My friends said they wanted to make good food quickly and easily, but what are they really saying? What is the feeling they are seeking? A road map, perhaps, for a way back to something. That warm wash of simplicity. It takes effort to carve out those moments, and increasingly we need a framework from which we can hang them. Good food at a table can provide the framework.
The food doesn't need to be complicated to be good. You don't need to work for days to create that feeling of fullness. There has been many a night when I have stood in front of the open pantry, totally at a loss for what to throw together, and settled on pasta with butter and cheese, or a can of organic tomato soup and a grilled cheese, or frozen Amy's pizza bites. Meaning, I've done the best I can on that particular day, and gone really easy on myself… with a large glass of wine on the side and no guilt." GP