Tag Archives: love

Award-Winning Writer

We are told to ‘keep it local’ when it comes to buying food, but my food writing has now been recognised on a very local level too.

My home county’s village farm, Fanny’s Farm, ran a marmalade competition last month. Prizes were available for best female, best male and an additional prize for marmalade-inspired memories – all to be judged by JoAnne Good from the BBC London. My mum has been making marmalade for as long as I can remember, so she entered the women’s section, whilst I submitted my Marmalady piece to the writing competition.

We both won first prize!

Well, that’s not strictly true. My sister actually won first prize, but she used my mum’s recipe. Even though Mum didn’t win herself, I’m sure she is still proud to know that her recipe informed the winning marmalade, and her marmalade inspired the winning story.


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Eat. Love.

Oysters, chocolate, bananas – St Valentine had probably never even heard of such things in his day (specifically, the third century BC), but they still get bandied around as the best aphrodisiacs. Regardless of whether raw shellfish tickles your pickle, there are plenty of other foods that can seduce your lover – including ginger, figs and pufferfish. Read more of my feature here, on the Food Network TV site.

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cheese in the mail

I received a piece of cheese in the post yesterday.


Pleasant Valley Dairy Caraway Gouda Cheese, aged over 60 years, to be exact.

I often send food to loved ones: a small pot of homemade ketchup that exploded over a memory stick which was the real reason for the package; homemade cookies that left a Hansel and Gretel crumb-trail across the Atlantic; an advent calender to my sister in Nepal when she wasn’t home for Christmas. The distance seems a little smaller when I feel like I might have put something pleasant in the belly of someone I love.

Perhaps there is something egotistical in my desire to have them digest a delicacy I’ve made; like they are ingesting a part of me in their absence. In many ways it’s no different to writing a letter, but you just get to eat the message rather than read it. Maybe I send food because my mum always told me it’s nice to share. I also secretly enjoy licking four different types of stamps and writing addresses with a biro that is attached to a desk, when I go to the post office to deliver these gustatory parcels.

But very rarely do I receive food packets in return. I hadn’t noticed until this delicious piece of unpasteurised heaven dropped onto my doormat. I’m not fishing for perishable goods to be sent my way, but it did make me wonder why other people don’t show their affection in more digestible forms. As the ketchup incident illustrates, there are certain risks involved with sending food (we won’t mention the mouldy cake that my best friend mistook for hate mail). You have to take shelf life, collateral damage and size of envelopes into account. But that’s why I like it. It’s rather like a sonnet; working a declaration of love into a formalised structure is a demonstration of both the sender’s skill, and their dedication to the subject.

In North America, food packages are not quite so theorised; they’re called ‘care packages’ and distributed by humanitarian aid agencies and ’empty nester’ mothers alike. I once met an American guy in London who’d received a care package of vegetarian beef jerky from his mum in Colorado. There’s no accounting for what care tastes like, I suppose.

postmanpatWriting this blog has cast a flash of understanding on my childhood fascination with Postman Pat. My Grandpa and I used to chat about Pat’s relationship with his cat, I would write my thank you letters on Postman Pat headed paper, and wonder why Pat never left those annoying missed delivery cards. I must have imbibed Pat’s love of delivering parcels and only now do I realise that I understood the power of the Royal Mail early on in my life.

I will enjoy a small slice of cheese everyday; dosifying the tangy, complex flavour of raw milk cheese that I can’t get over here. My fingers smell like cheese, and as I nibble on delicate Gouda for my lunch, it’s like I’m reading the letter over and over again. Each morsel of cumin seed that emerges from the cheese is an anecdote written on my tongue. In fact, Max only sent a few lines on a postcard – but nothing says love like unpasteurised cheese.

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I spot a trainspotter

Trainspotters make me cry. Out of the hundreds of commuters passing through Victoria Station this morning, only two or three strayed off their morning routine to admire the Steam Dream train pulled into platform three that is taking a trainload of expectant passengers on a day out to Stratford.

As I stand amongst the excited passengers and trainspotters who have come up to the front of the train for the view, I feel a tear come to my eye. There is something about a grown man getting excited about a locomotive. A gentleman in beige trousers and a sensible jacket stands in front of the train as a stranger takes his photograph, “Yes, yes. Just press the button! Oh I can’t believe it! I was just passing by!” he manages to say through his grin, “This has made my day!” It just breaks my heart.

Well, it’s not that it breaks my heart exactly, but in that moment, I feel us both to be acutely human. There is the fragility of an obsession amongst the steam. It’s painfully beautiful. And reassuring… his hurried steps to get to the front of the train. The spiral bound notepad full of numbers I don’t understand, 390-001, 278-151, 340-003, and I can’t even see this mystical numerology marked anywhere on the train. I want to stop one of the men and ask him what he does with all those numbers. I want to buy him a cup of tea from Journey’s Friend and sit on the platform edge, our feet dangling over the rails, as he tells me which brand of pencil he prefers and I brush his comb-over.

I realise this obsession has more to do with what I lack, than what these unlikely Casanovas possess. We often take lovers who live out a side of ourselves that we cannot. I’m a successive failed poet via my previous boyfriends, but since they have not satisfied my untapped creative urges, perhaps trainspotters are the way forward? I often get frustrated by my fluctuations in self-discipline and dedication, and trainspotters have these by the carriage-load. As I make my way back to the main concourse, I wonder whether a trainspotter would help me be more focused.  The hotshot cityboys around me on the underground might focus on working nine to five, but I am unavoidably intrigued by someone who is willing to stand on a platform at five to nine in the morning, searching for a fleeting glimpse of a number amongst the steel and high voltage. I get out my notepad and begin to write, “trainspotters make me cry…”

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