Saturday, 8 December 2007

Make Soup, Not War

I never know quite what to do with myself on a Saturday.

The rest of the week, I find, can be pigeonholed quite neatly. On Monday to Friday, I am inevitably doing one of three things: working, trying to force myself out the door to work, or laying around wrestling with my conscience for not being able to do either. This, in itself, takes up a considerable amount of brainpower and energy, and keeps me occupied for the better part of the day - perhaps ironically, moreso than actually working itself would.

On Sundays, I am usually thinking about whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing on Monday.

But Saturdays are a bit of an enigma, where the world as I know it stops turning for a little while, and that lovely feeling of relief on waking at not having to do any of that is quite quickly replaced with a vague sense of feeling utterly lost.

When planning my move back to London earlier in the year, and knowing that the majority of my time outside work would be spent alone, I envisaged my future Saturdays as being spent in the pursuit of all things arty and cultural. Perhaps browsing lazily around an antiquated bookshop in Charing Cross Road, stopping in a French-inspired coffee shop afterwards to flick absent-mindedly through the musty yellowed pages and watch the world go by outside through a small cloud of steam rising from the cup. Visiting galleries, even though I neither understand nor appreciate art, or attending one of the hundreds of musical events at the Barbican. Lounging around on the South Bank, people-watching, wondering where this person is going or where that person has been. Wandering aimlessly around Portabello Road market, procuring a bag full of nick-naks for my Victorian-themed flat, all of which would of course bring me pleasure, but would be ultimately quite useless.

Obviously, it hasn't quite worked out like that.

This morning, it being a Saturday, I peeked around the curtains for a brief look at the world outside, hoping perhaps that doing so would, for a change, plant a seed of inspiration in my mind as to how to spend the day. As my still sleep-filled eyes unblurred and adjusted to the light, I was delighted to notice that it was raining hard. I love hard rain. As well as reminding me of home as a child, circa 1982 - that wonderful sense of warmth and comfort and belonging after arriving home soaked from the walk from the school bus to be met with a big fluffy towel, a glass of squash and a Marmite sandwich - hard rain gives me an instant sense of relief; I can watch it hammer against the windows, run gracefully down the metallic exterior of parked cars, settle in puddles on the pavement and bounce from the umbrellas of passers-by, safe in the knowledge that it's giving me a legitimate excuse to hole myself up for the day - because who in their right mind wants to go outside in that?

So, today, instead of tackling demons, I tackled vegetables.

I made soup.

I chopped and boiled and seasoned and tasted and smacked my lips in delight and marvelled at the delicious smells coming from my woefully under-used kitchen as this random, spur-of-the-moment creation bubbled away on the stove for two hours. I nearly set fire to my flat in a slight accident involving the naked flame of the gas hob and an errant sticky label which was, apparently, still attached to my shiny new crock-pot... but we'll gloss over that. I blended and poured and divided the fruits of my labour up into individual little containers, surprised at the sense of satisfaction and achievement garnered from such a simple activity.

Had I been wearing an apron at the time, I would have been the epitome of domestic goodness, and with the soundtrack of old standards and big-band jazz happily playing in the background, I felt like the archetypal 1950s housewife.

I may even have sung at one point.

After the blending part of the process, I realised that in my enthusiasm, I'd made enough soup to feed a small army and yet had nothing to store it in. I pulled on my trainers and, without thinking about what I was doing, made the two-minute trip to the local homewares store for the cheaper, multi-buy equivalent of Tupperware.

Arriving home, as I turned the key in the door - I can't put my finger on the reasons why - it felt for the first time in months as if I was walking into home - somewhere that things happen rather than a place where people hide and acheive nothing.

All this from soup.

How strange.


An Unreliable Witness said...

I'll forgive you the rather industrious soup-making business, because of that description you gave of a rainy Saturday. Perfect. Spot-on. I hate that pressure there is to go out at the weekend and do things. A rainy Saturday relieves that pressure for everyone apart from the keenest 'must do, must do, must do stuff' idiots.

But, terrible thought, you weren't listening to Workers' Playtime, were you? Is it 1951 again, and nobody told me? ;)

Anonymous said...

If you ever want a really good chutney recipe, let me know. That requires chopping and boiling, but not much else and then you need some emtpy jam jars or similar for storage.

It's odd that, despite being the absolute opposite of a girly-girl housewife type, I find few things more relaxing than cooking something slowly (stew, soup, chutney, jams) or crossstitching.

Sheenagh x

bohémienne said...

I wish I could find the pleasure in the preparation of food. It eludes me, entirely.

Well done, by the way.

seahorse said...

"safe in the knowledge that it's giving me a legitimate excuse to hole myself up for the day"

Oh yes, I totally recognise that one. The sense of home is I think coming from: Cooking + lovely smells + warmth + nurturing + comfort equals home.

Unless you don't like cooking of course. Me? Love it. Big vat of carrot and swede mash to do this weekend. With bacon bits and pepper and rosemary, and lots of butter. Freezer bags at the ready, lovely grub for weeks to come - though I do eat other things with it. And not just jam. I'm jammed out to be honest :)

Seaurchin said...

This is surreal. Other people who relish the comfort and cozy-ness of rain?! I save these days for reading, blogging, long baths... of course this is what I would rather be doing all the time...but as u say weather permits.