You oft hear that one of the reasons cited for marriage breakdown is the drifting apart explanation, so it is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you…nah only joking, I’ve no plans to split up with the amazing missus. Saying that, it’s my one-sided view, you’ll have to ask her her future long term plans.
No, my drifting apart is in only one aspect of our life and that is FOOD. This thought came to me last night when I was standing on the sidelines of yet another muddy pitch, watching one of the boys in his sporting endeavours. I was chatting to a friend and we were talking about the daily dreaded question which is uttered every early morning as we all run around stressed. As we try to get our shit together for the forthcoming day, the question is asked ‘What do you want for dinner?’ or the more inclusive ‘What shall we have for dinner?’
My immediate thoughts normally run like this: ‘I can’t think straight, you make the decision’, ‘something with bread and or spuds please’, ‘I can’t be arsed to eat tonight’. Whereas I know my wife is thinking ‘Veg, pulses, fish, more veg, heaps of herbs, small portions, no carbs’. Eventually, we come to a compromise, the deal is struck and I’ll pop to Coles post kid drop off to get the required ingredients.
Please don’t think I/we don’t like our food. We do. My wife has endless bookshelves full of cookery books and foodporn mags. She loves a good cook up. We enjoy a lot of global cuisines together (in and out) and when we travel (another shared passion) we love nothing more than immersing ourselves in the local fare. But someone has come between us and we find ourselves drifting apart. That someone is Yotam Ottolenghi. In fact, I have coined a phrase for it (just now), I call it the Ottolenghi effect (sounds like a prog-rock band). Mr Ottolenghi is a famous London chef with roots in Israel. His modern take on vegetarian food has had a huge impact on current tastes and trends (note here: I’m not a veg hater). What I don’t enjoy, and my wife clearly does, are some of the combinations and ingredients. Pulling his veggie tour de force Plenty off the shelf, I open the book randomly to be greeted by vine leaf, herb and yoghurt pie. No thanks. Try again. Quinoa salad with dried Iranian lime. Not for me. I could go on (the wife will confirm this).
It would be churlish just to blame good ol’Yotam. Foodporn mags and Sunday supplements are littered with kale that, pomegranate this, no food fun here, thank you. So often at the weekends, if we are home, the dinners will run like this: Friday – my choice (I’ve got something nice and simple planned tonight with baked beans), Saturday – the better-half’s choice, which will very likely involve a trip to the fish markets and a specialist grocer with 5 hours prep after, Sunday – family dinner night, so we usually play safe with a trad roast for the kids. Every now and then I will be surprised by the Saturday night choice and we will have something, rich, luscious and fattening (I love those Saturdays). The weekday meals are a simplified rendition of the weekend’s food battles.
I know I’m not alone on this and I also know that my wife is also not alone. We simple minded blokes (my elder brother besides) like bolder, hearty flavours which can be enjoyed with one utensil, whereas my wife, and her chums, enjoy freshness, texture and healthy bits (& the occasional hot chip binge). I guess with more thought, this is some complicated and ill thought out metaphor for the difference between he and she. And that, actually, in hindsight, I’m not sure what I’m whinging about. Ok, so some meals/ingredients I don’t like and this is a two way street but we all grin and chew and say ‘that was delish, thanks very much’ because food, like relationships, is all about compromise and balance. I am the salt to her pepper.
Food note: No tolerance can be shown for fucking kale. That stuff is just plain wrong.