I think I’ve always lived for food to some extent. As a little girl I would swap my homemade cake for my best friend’s chocolate biscuits – to the satisfaction of both of us. I loved helping my granny put out family teas – buttering the bread, washing the salad, and setting the food out on the table. I enjoyed making the occasional bit of cake at home, and had various children’s cookbooks which my Mum would sometimes have a go at with me.
When I left home, to go to university, I lived in halls of residence for two years, and the food, whilst edible, could be reminiscent of school dinners. I generally ate far too much, as everyone from the largest boy to the smallest girl was given the same size portion, and hot dessert was on offer every day. If the meal was below standard, such as the day we were served up a meat curry with banana in, my friends and I would supplement it with large cheese toasties or bacon sandwiches. The only reason I didn’t become enormous was that I had to walk into lectures and back everyday – over an hours walking every weekday. I have to say I developed a real appreciation of my Mum’s home cooked food when I went home in the holidays. Meat and two veg never tasted so good!
In my last year at university I moved into a flat and had to cook for myself for the first time. One of my flatmates and I decided to cook meals together – which turned out to be a good decision on my part as she was much better than me at cooking. She had been used to making the family meal when she lived at home, and consequently could make a mean casserole. The other key influence of those student years was the fact that we had very little money. A chicken thigh each, together with lots of mushroom, onion, and carrot with a packet casserole mix became a staple.
My flatmate was interested in recipes and we would pick up the free magazines in supermarkets and she would cut out and keep the ones she liked, although it was mostly a visual exercise, as we didn’t have spare money for anything fancy very often. I was however at that stage relying on a lot of jar and packet ingredients to go with my meat and vegetables. I had no idea how to make a sauce from scratch.
I lived with her for two years until I got a place of my own, and then a year after that I got married. This also coincided with moving out of town,so I could no longer walk to work. The effects of living with a hungry man, who (still) complains if the meal doesn’t include meat, combined with a lack of exercise, and me eating similar size portions as my husband, as well as enjoying cosy nights in with a big meal, had the obvious effect – I put weight on.
Two years later it dawned on me that I was getting rather tubby, and I decided to do something about it …
… to be continued …