Foodie

I read somewhere recently that you remember things with your brain, your heart or your stomach. It didn’t take much deliberation to realise I’m very clearly a stomach person. My dad was, although I’m relatively sure his impecabble memory was a super power regardless of what he ate, he just really liked food (despite his kitchen skills being limited to being beans on toast). My mum on the other hand, enjoys the cooking just as much as the eating and I like to think that I’m the same.

Being part of a family who put so much emphasis on food and drink, on the way it brings people together and the comfort it provides, is something I have never really thought much about. It’s second nature to me, a part of life that has always been there and something I have carried through to my independence and adulthood. I suppose it has shaped me more than I realised. I wouldn’t have such a desire to bring my friends together around the dinner table if I hadn’t had countless nights lying awake in bed listening to the clink of glasses and my dad’s unexpected laughter drifting up the stairs, if I hadn’t come home from babysitting to the tail-ends of dinner parties with tipsy adults demanding I join them and my mum cutting me a slice of her pavlova as I tentatively sat at the end of the table. I probably wouldn’t put much effort into discovering new restaurants if I didn’t have memories of driving for hours down sandy lanes in rural Italy to enjoy perfectly fried courgette flowers and incredible pasta pomodoro. I wouldn’t associate golden hour with a disposable barbecue and a beer on the beach and I wouldn’t know that one of the best ways to save money on holiday is to make a picnic lunch with whatever you can nab at the hotel breakfast.

I know that ultimately, food is just something we need to survive but to me, there is so much more to it. My granny’s carrot cake is the reason for countless tea-time conversations, my mum’s crumble helped give me the strength to return to uni after dad died and I feel a little bit inspired everytime I see my grandad’s cheese soufflé rise in the oven. It bonds us and gives us an opportunity to celebrate in a way that is perhaps more reflective and perceptive than a standard party (although that does depend on how much wine is on offer). I value the morning after debrief brunches just as much as the night before and the pleasure of being cooked for or cooking for others is one I don’t think I’ll ever tire of.

During lockdown, I took great pleasure in leafing through all of my mum’s family recipes and putting them in a book of my own. Food became even more important when it felt like there was so little else that was normal and predictable. If you followed the recipe, a banana bread would still rise, a simmering rich tomato sauce would still thicken and a well cooked chicken thigh would still fall off the bone. Cooking became very therapeutic for me, if I woke up feeling helpless I’d bake, following the structure of measurements and timing helped to give me focus, it gave me something to show for my day. Endless hours were spent folding down the pages of cook books and trying new recipes was a way to feel both creative and productive. Meal planning and feeding my family gave me a sense of purpose, it was a way to try and provide a little bit of comfort.

I will always remember meals, from the graduation lunch at Harvey Nichols in Leeds, annual fish and chips at Eastbourne beach, a terrible pizza at a motorway hotel in France, the world’s best pancakes at bottomless brunch in Fulham, boozy meals with family that always end around a piano, Christmas roasts, picnics, birthday cakes and takeaways, the list goes on. It isn’t just the food though, it’s the people and the place and the moment in time. It’s the conversations and laughter that float around the table, where and why you gathered together, what you did next, the greetings and the goodbyes that happen either side.

I suppose that in it’s simplicity, it may be a love of food, but it satisfies so much more than just my stomach.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett

If you fancy a bit more food related content (from people far more interesting than myself) then give Out To Lunch with Jay Raynor a listen. The food critic takes big names out for lunch, conversation flows accompanied by the atmospheric sounds of some brilliant restaurants. Stanley Tucci wrote beautifully for The Atlantic about how food punctuates his family’s days in lockdown and revealed a few of his favourite recipes. If you don’t listen already, there is a huge backlog of Table Manners episodes where Jessie Ware and her mum invite people over a meal and find out about the role food has played in their life.

Copenhagen

I don’t get a reading week at uni, but last week I took one. My family and I went to visit my cousin in Copenhagen as a surprise for her 21st birthday.

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We arrived when the weather was at its finest which meant drinks in the sun rather than avoiding bitter winds. As a city, it reminded me of Amsterdam but perhaps slightly less ‘aesthetic’ with mixed architecture around the canals. The sun though, as it always does, made everything look beautiful. The 3 days were full of good food, family, exploring and danish pastries. Just a warning though, save your money before you go, its not a cheap city.

On our first day we had breakfast in a small courtyard café which focuses on Danish traditions, from the food the crockery. All the furniture in the café is for sale, so it doubles as a showroom which meant I felt bad for spilling the tiniest crumb. We spent the morning there just making plans and catching up.

We wandered around the Pleasure Palace garden’s (what a name) before stopping at another café. You may notice that this trip did focus around eating and drinking, I have no excuse. We moved on to the Christianshavn area and went into the Church of Our Saviour, its a simple but beautiful interior, home to 40 elephant figurines (we only counted 7 though). The tower above is 400 steps but definitely worth the climb, it gives you a great view of the city and helps to justify all those pastries.

The next day started with a boat tour, definitely something worth doing to see the city and learn more about it. We spent the afternoon in a slightly unusual way for a February day and went to La Banchina for a dip in the sea before rushing up to a little wooden sauna overlooking the water. Freezing, but it felt very danish. We had dinner at a lovely little restaurant called Basso which served amazing sharing plates from salmon to parmesan carrots to steak. Bistro Royal and The Studio were some other great restaurants from the trip.

On our last morning we had breakfast at the glass markets, some beautiful buildings in Norreport full of food stalls, coffee shops and of course more pastries. I would have loved more time to wander around and explore but sadly we had a plane to catch.

Copenhagen was beautiful, I could’ve done with a couple more days to explore but I guess I’ll just have to go back…

 

New Year

It has been a strange start to the new year for me, I have started it without my dad.

Richard Garrett died on the 22nd of December. He did not pass away or go to sleep, we have not lost him, he died and we are here learning how to live without him. I know my family and I are not the only people to have lost someone but I think it’s too soon for that to be comforting, I still feel very selfish. What is comforting is the huge outpouring of love and support we have received and the memories of the life dad lived. I am trying to feel lucky, lucky that we had time to say goodbye, that we had 9 years after the cancer diagnosis and that he fought so well, lucky that he taught me so much, lucky that we went on incredible holidays, ate amazing food and laughed hysterically. He had, and gave us, the most amazing life.

Most people view the new year as a new start but I’m not sure I’m ready for that. There is too much to process from the last year, from the last month of it. I don’t want a new year, I want the last 21 again and again. I didn’t make any new years resolutions but what I will say is this; I want to make him proud daily and remember him always, however that may be.img-0870

We’ve started a JustGiving page in dad’s memory. Before he died he asked for money to be fundraised in his name for The Bedford Hospital Primrose Unit, where he was treated throughout his illness, and St John’s Hospice, where he spent his final weeks. If you’d like to give anything, no matter how small, you can donate here.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter:@IndiaGarrett

21

A week ago I turned 21. It’s taken me this long to write this because I haven’t really known what to say (and I’ve been ridiculously busy but we’ll gloss over that).

I had the most wonderful birthday celebrations, I was spoilt rotten and had an amazing party surrounded by people I love and yet there was a strange nostalgia that came with the weekend.

Birthdays are strange generally, a bit like New Years Eve in that they give you a chance to reflect on the past year and all the things you did or didn’t achieve and it can feel odd celebrating a day that feels like any other. I feel like 21 is meant to mark a bit of a transition into adulthood, I am now closer to 30 than I am to 10, obvious I know, but it’s something I feel very aware of. I don’t feel like an adult but I don’t feel like a teenager either, I’m somewhere in between attempting to navigate day to day life.

This week hasn’t felt any different to the ones I experienced when I was 20, to be honest it doesn’t feel much different to the ones I experienced when I was 18 but looking back, I know that a lot has changed. I have grown, I have new opinions, I have new people in my life and I know far more. Change is gradual, growing up is gradual but it’s happening.

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I did think about doing a ’21 things I’ve learned in 21 years’ type thing but then realised that firstly, I don’t know anything groundbreaking and secondly, that it would be too cliche, even for me. I will say this though; all you can do is your best, people come and go in phases and nothing beats a good sunset.

I don’t know what this next year will hold, hopefully some more growth, a degree, lots of laughter. I’m constantly working on getting closer to the person I want to be, even if I’m not too sure who that is yet.

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Thank you to everyone who was involved in my birthday celebrations in any way, you’re wonderful.

Instagram: @IndiaGarrett

Twitter: @IndiaGarrett