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#4: Mum vs Food

So for those of you who eat right, eat well, Instagram your dinners out and who make their own pasta…look away now. Because this blog is about food and well, my lack of love for it. That’s not to say I’m ungrateful…I know it’s a resource that I am lucky to have, I really do. But, in my eyes, this last decade has seen the (rather unfortunate) rise of the foodie. A rise that I’m not too sure how to handle.

Because I am from a family full of foodies. Geez, these kids like their food. Case in point, my sister and brother…and because we’re running with a theme here – they will now be known as McGarrett and Kono (they’re also the only two people in the world who watch Hawaii Five-O...).

"...whaddya mean there's a special offer on Krispy Kremes? STEP AWAY FROM THE DOUGHNUTS! GIVE US TWO DOZEN!"

McG and Kono (or McKono) are BIG foodies. They go out to restaurants, they Instagram the hell out of anything they’ve eaten/cooked and dang it, those two can kill a buffet, like murder it. We all went backpacking around the US, now over 12 years ago and I’ll always remember whilst my agenda was sights, experiences and comedy photos – theirs was the food. So much so that when I chose not to partake in giant breakfast platters and hamburgers the size of my head, they rang my mother back in the UK and relayed their suspicions that they thought I may have an eating disorder….Here is a selection of their food pictures. Marvel in the excess and the symmetry of my sister's pecans.

And it’s not just them…I’m talking cousins, aunts, uncles and grandmothers who LOVE food. Half the time, I get it…food is family and memories and people bonding over the tables. Some of the best food I’ve eaten has been cooked by the hands of my mother and shared with family over mix-matched tablecloths. Fun times. But sometimes, it becomes a pre-occupation. If we’re going out, it’s all anyone can talk about:

Shit, when are we going to eat? Do we have to book? Let’s download a menu! I think I’m going to have the set menu! Look, they do ribs! We could share the ribs – they’re slow roasted for ten hours in beer! RIBS!

And more recently, it’s teetered on food snobbery:

Oh, buffets? I don’t do buffets at weddings – it looks really cheap. Why aren’t you feeding my grandchildren organic? You bought that cake in? You should try making that spag bol with sundried tomatoes…

And the fact is, it’s not just them. It’s everyone else too. I’m not sure when it happened but when I was a child, you could serve up some fish fingers and spaghetti hoops and get away with it. It was acceptable, it was delicious. Hell, I eat spaghetti hoops now and I fricking love them. Have you ever tried lacing as many as you can onto a fork? It’s fun, try it. But now, there’s a different food ethos in town. You needed to have made those fish fingers with multigrain oats and ethically sourced fish and rolled and kneaded your pasta accompaniment from hand. There needs to be three different vegetables on that plate to satisfy the food Nazis. Kale, people like kale these days.

'...spag hoops vs kale....sorry, kale. You're just posh cabbage...'

And you needed to have cooked that…and enjoyed cooking it. Because cooking is fun. It’s really fun. Look at that TV chef prancing about and ooh'ing and aah'ing with every spice added to the pan. Look at them producing PERFECT cakes out of the oven. Look at their families enjoying the fruits of these labours; that young child smiling and laughing and not kicking off because the carrots have touched the mash. Look at how all their crockery matches. Because where I live, that’s not cooking, that's not even bordering on real-life. For one, whenever I'm cooking, that kitchen is noisy. Kids are colouring and screaming around you, they are begging you for snacks and the washing machine is going mental in one corner. Secondly, the food doesn't always look great. I've had to cook it in half an hour before Cubs. I've thrown that pasta in that bowl and tried to hide the bits of onion inside the penne so The Hound can't sniff it out. And lastly, the washing up. You TV chefs....if you want me to believe anything you say, I want to see how much washing up you have generated and how long it's taken you to do it. And no, I don't have a dishwasher.

This doesn't happen in our house. By this point, the children have fought over the mixing bowl, someone's sneezed in it, the first aid kit is out.

So, you sound a little angsty there, lady. Is there a better way to contain all this anti-foodism? Well, now you mention it, besides this dear blog, I’ve written a book. Souper Mum is mummy-lit with a bit of bite – our heroine, Jools Campbell is a mum who reluctantly gets pulled into the world of celebrity cookery after a public feud with a TV chef. The novel is for cooks who’ve never 'made' a fish finger in their lives. The ones who count ketchup as one of your 5 a day. Cooking may be something they have to do every day, three times a day for very little people who have extremely distinct tastes. (Don’t give Arya tomatoes. Arya will literally stab you if she sees a tomato.) It’s not always fun. It’s for people who are befuddled by those who serve their food on chopping boards/bits of old slate/in kilner jars. It's for people who don't know their pomegranates from their yuzus. It’s for people who burn food. I will post a lot of pictures here of burnt food. I will also tell you how I covered it in cheese and served it to my kids. Boom. Yes, those sorts of people. And for those food snobs out there (mostly my family) who will hang their heads in dispair and won't like what I have to say....

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