The day is Sunday 26th May and its my 31st Birthday. The day was planned out to be spent with the family, however I went soul searching for a little while (imagine the type of soul searching achieved with a Radox Bath and Whale music). The reality has just hit home and it has been starring right at me. I love food, I love culture, I love my family and I also love learning about people. I believe that I should provide some background to this revelation and its current significance to me.
My life has been pretty busy recently with a full time job commuting with the ever pleasant London traffic and a new arrival settling in at home. In addition to the new arrival, I am also lucky enough to share a significant amount of time with both my daughter (3 years old) and beautiful wife (never ask a ladies age).
I am sure plenty of people can recognise and relate to the challenge of work place politics, traffic and parenting. In relation to all three of these, I have recently been questioning the next steps for the family and what direction we should move in.
What do I want to do next? What will work for all four of us? Should we look at relocating and trying something new all together? Am I struggling with the ever increasing traffic of the M25, A2, Blackheath and Dartford – When will they ever change that bloody tunnel and make it work! The question that I keep asking myself is ‘what do I need next to re-motivate myself and take it up a gear?’. I do keep hearing excitement is the right answer in life.
The whole situation of this soul searching started some months back in December 2018. I spent some time on various discovery courses and touchy feely voodoo to help ignite that flame or passion. I am interested in helping people with what makes them tick but what makes me tick? I really have tried to think of all sorts over the previous few weeks and only minutes ago before doodling this very writing down onto some notepad paper -it just hit me.
The main aim of my birthday was to spend time with the little ones and a very first cinema experience for my three year old little girl. The afternoon ended with some light tapas with a little red to quench the thirst, by the end of the day I was beginning to unwind and took some ‘Me Time’ with a cheeky bath and ‘Was that really half a bottle of wine’…
It was all very inspiring but nothing… No Light bulbs, no motivation in that bath. I then ventured on back down stairs to have a night cap alongside a catch up before bed and that’s when it hit me, just like half a bottle of sambuca on a Friday night… I do apologise to my Nan for all the times!
My sister knows me pretty well and she knows how much I do enjoy a good cook book, not just for the recipes but I enjoy the read as well. I received a copy of ‘The Groundnut’. This is a cookbook with pride, passion and culture that have all been stitched together by the three creators; Folayemi Brown, Jacob Fodio Todd and lastly Duval Timothy. I will put some writing together on my thoughts on this little creation separately but a huge shout out to these lads for inspiring culture and connectivity in local communities.
I must admit, I started to read the book and all of a sudden the light in my brain started to flicker (my creative side has been switched off for some years now) – I have a real passion for food, cooking it (not the best), reading about it (cue the wife moaning at my google antics), sharing it (sometimes) and last of all eating it! What about writing about food? I have never tried that one before…
I love the aromas, I love and respect all of them thousands of tiny flavours that can both make you laugh and cry. The meals that bring us all together, them occasions that always require celebrating around the dinner table. Them Sunday afternoons at Nan and Grandads with the roast lamb cooking and that ‘Smashing’ home brewed gravy as she used to call it. I can smell it now and it brings back all of them fantastic memories we all shared together.
If only there were an invention that bottled up memory like a scent. And when one wanted, the bottle could be uncorked and it would be like living the moment all over again.
– Daphne Du Maurier
What about them days when you feel down and need that little pick me up? Its the plate of cheese and biscuits that do the job plus throw in a few olives to lighten the mood, in this instance forget the lactose intolerance – this is delicious!
What about when we want to say thank you? I love helping out my ‘Brother from another mother’ Albert with any little requests because when he shows up at the door with a box of mum’s ‘Jollof rice and spicy chicken’ – you know you have earned it! Big shout out to his mum for keeping us all fed and watered.
I remember them days of Ramadan back at school waiting for sunset to kick in and then ladies and gentlemen meet fatoor. Fatoor is known as the opening of the nightly feast during the periods of fasting over the Ramadan period (I appreciate there is likely many more words for this period of time, so please feel free to add in any corrections in comments). We would ensure to get our timing just right to knock for a friend of mine and have a catch up on ‘homework’ or so was the excuse to ensure we was in the right place for any leftovers of the free feasting that was about to begin.
I used to work in an old dentistry warehouse and was lucky enough to make two friends Daksha and Raj. We had a little collective understanding. Daksha was married to Raj and would prepare all of his daily meals, luckily for me Raj was business minded and came up with the idea to create an extra portion for me for just £3 per day – no meal deal can compete with this and I got to explore bundles of flavours and eat wholesome homemade meals every day without lifting a finger.
I remember the plentiful times on a Friday or Saturday night with my friends who are just about to go on a mad drinking frenzy that actually I had booked a table and was going for dinner instead – I can still hear and even feel them funny looks. I still love you for the banter lads.
That’s the thing with food, its our culture, our history, our heritage and it is one of life’s greatest pleasures that we can share together. I believe even Tupac said it once about breaking bread with the enemy, there is no better time to reflect and appreciate each other than sharing a table full of delights.
FOOD IS OUR COMMON GROUND, A UNIVERSAL EXPERIENCE.
– James Beard
So this had to be my next chapter for some ignition of passion because opening that book flooded back to me all of these memories and this is my sharing of all of my experiences. I can see them all flooding in and I wonder how many other people can relate to similar experiences.
I can still remember every ingredient of my grandads favourite batter for Fish Thursdays (it took some weeks but me and my cousin Darren nailed it and that was no easy task).
I remember the look on my father in-laws face standing at the door when he found out that tonight was actually polish night and yes we was having cabbage soup (Kappusta). The idea came from a simple discussion with a polish friend who provided all of the recipes and that’s the joy, we all have so much to give each other and most of us don’t know it.
Therefore, this is the start of my blog and journey and will be collection of my stories exploring any wonderful experiences that I am lucky enough to explore. I hope you enjoy the writing as I will cover all sorts relating to food and life experiences. I would also love to hear about your experiences and also places to visit, people to talk to and wonders to explore.
Enjoy the reading!