“Seven is the only number among those we can count on our hands (1-10) that cannot be divided or multiplied within the group ... the only number between two and ten that is neither a multiple nor a factor of the others. In this way, “lucky number seven” stands alone—and we grasp this implicitly." Alex Bellos
Believe it or not I have been writing this blog for seven years now - well actually the birthday, if you can call it that, was yesterday, but somehow or other I thought it was today. Like my 80th birthday - a day late in celebrating. (I began this post yesterday but didn't quite have time to finish it. Dinner was cooked and needed eating!)
Seven is a lucky number - 10% of the world thinks so apparently when surveyed. Yes they did a massive world-wide survey and 7 came out top of the heap, with 3 in second place and 8 in third. Probably no surprises there either. So we should be optimistic - however difficult that might be in the current world view. And I should be optimistic about this blog, having now reached 7 years old. I'm certainly sort of proud anyway, because even if most of what I have written is derivative and possibly drivel, it has certainly improved my life, if nobody else's in lots of ways.
So I'm going to try and do a quick (I'll try) rundown of the story so far. Repeating myself somewhat I know, but it's a tradition now. Well a tradition when I remember it's the blog's birthday.
In it's first format it looked like this and began with, not just that quote about potatoes, which is still there, but also with the words "I like food and I'm bored." I had been retired for more than ten years and had run out of interesting things to do. So on 15th July 2016 I launched my new glossy website and blog, courtesy of Wix, and began what is now a 7 year journey. Over those years I have written a lot of rubbish, some quite good stuff and some pretty mundane, repeating myself over and over again, and copying from here and there and everywhere. For there is never an original idea it seems, unless you're Einstein. Even Shakespeare plagiarised hugely.
I decided to look at the anniversary of every year until now and just give a quick fix on where I was at in blog terms.
"This is where it all starts. My leftovers book made me realise that the starting point for what I cook is always the fridge"
On the left the fridge on that first day and on the right as it is now. There is a difference in that David made me take my jars out of the door and put them in the fridge, but otherwise, it is indeed much the same as always - as I commented then. The post then went on to ramble around the concepts of improvisation - which I have done many times since - beginning with this quote from, of all people, Christopher Walken. But then he was probably talking about acting:
“Improvising is wonderful. But, the thing is that you cannot improvise unless you know exactly what you're doing.” Christopher Walken
I suspect that's not quite true, but I won't delve further anyway, because I then progressed to creativity, and my own words:
"And there’s that other key word I have used - create - also something almost unique to humans."
And I have to say that one of the main things that I have got out of writing this blog is that I have done something creative, even if derivative, and only mildly creative. I can't paint or draw, I can't play any instrument or indeed do anything that others would think of as creative, other than cooking and having a go at writing about food. Which is satisfying. I think we all need to do something creative, however tiny.
I also finished that post with a recipe for a dish that I constructed from that day's fridge raid. I wonder whether I thought I would be following the pattern of most online foodie blogs, which are centred on a recipe - mostly an 'original' recipe from the author. However, I think that pattern was discarded the very next day. I just don't have thousands of original recipes in me.
Nothing much has changed here either. It is of course, always winter in July and here there is always a pile of wood being gathered, and then cut or chopped up by my amazingly fit husband. I could take a similar photograph today.
But the subject of that particular post was mostly about comfort food, beginning with the quote of the day:
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home." Edith Sitwell
The date is wrong because we had just come back from our last holiday in France - well Europe. We did not know it for sure at the time, but the signs were there, and the coming of COVID just confirmed that thought. Although ... you never know. Edith Sitwell obviously thought that home was what we sought in winter. I thought otherwise:
"for home? Almost everyone I know tries to escape at least some of winter by going to the northern hemisphere or the tropics for a prolonged holiday - as far away from home as possible. As we have just done. So home is not everyone's first thought. Our initial reaction to winter is to escape it."
However, COVID put paid to that for a number of our friends as well as ourselves, and so, yes we enjoy the comforts of home and the foods that bring us comfort through remembering other climes - and my closing quote that day from Anton Chekhov is even more appropriate in these current times. Happiness is what you should be looking for.
"People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy."
Now back at home I remembered this particular birthday and wondered what writing the blog had done for me. Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.
"Well it has given me a discipline, that, now I think about it, has expanded into almost everything I do.
It has given me lots to think about when I walk, or sit in the car being driven here and there. I observe the world around me in a different way - always thinking how I can shape something that strikes me into a topic for my blog.
My supermarket visits are even more interesting than they were when just the idle thought or question would pop into my brain. Now I am actively looking for inspiration - what's new, what's gone, what on earth is this ...?
It has probably been on of the main reasons for me acquiring a beautiful MacBook Pro laptop ... Almost everywhere you go you can find a wifi connection. And lo and behold - where was one of the first places you could do this? Macdonald's!"
All of which remains true. And I still have the laptop, which has travelled a little since then, although not to Europe. It too is getting old. Laptops become vintage very quickly. But, like me, it still has quite a lot of life left in it.
I can't quite remember now why I was writing about Paul Bocuse and celebrations in general, because I didn't acknowledge the blog's birthday. I know I mused a bit on this when I turned 80.
Of the Paul Bocuse memorable visit for my fiftieth birthday, I said:
"Every day is a celebration of something, whether personal or national, communal or private. And to celebrate these things we sometimes go to places like Paul Bocuse's temple of gastronomy. We try to do something memorable to pay homage to an equally memorable event. My fiftieth birthday - it was the actual birthday - will forever stay with me."
And I definitely stand by those words. I was, as I said, not celebrating the blog birthday, so the celebration topic was just a bit coincidental; but a few days later on:
July 18 2019 I did actually celebrate it, saying:
"Actually I did not forget this one, and indeed I did ponder on writing something about it, but chose, in the end, not to. I'm still not quite sure why. I think it was because I thought it would make me depressed and make me question yet again why I am doing this.
Which begs the question of whether we really do need to celebrate these things or not. And does it matter if the celebration is not on the actual day?
I also learnt one of those quirky things - In America July 2 is National I Forgot Day! Shouldn't that be every day?
I still ask myself occasionally why I am doing this, and I think the answer is still pretty much the same - I enjoy doing it, and it makes me feel that I have achieved something - if just for me.
Yes this year I had completely forgotten about the birthday, and instead wrote an article about LVMH and its owner and CEO Bernard Arnault - in the top few most wealthy people in the world. Owner of multiple luxury brands including Moët et Chandon. I can't remember now why I was writing about it but it was all very interesting if rather alarming. - concluding with these words which will forever be true I'm afraid:
"Yet another demonstration of the increasing gap between the rich and the poor of the world, luxury champagne, and bread made from acorns"
So apologies - I've done all this before. No suprises there. I see I said virtually everything I said in the first section of this post, but I also saw that I copied my very first blog by making a meal from a fridge raid, although I don't seem to have posted the actual recipe this time - just a vague description.
"Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away." Marcus Aurelius
Yes it does - and seven even more so although there were none - for seven. As well as all the usual things that I say on these birthdays, this particular blog talked about what you should eat with champagne - something salty, crunchy and oily apparently. Well that's what all the expert wine buffs say, and so I settled on fried chicken and one particular recipe from Nigel Slater - Crispy fried kefir chicken with rosemary and garlic.
Here it is and it was probably pretty good - his food generally is.
Which makes me realise that I am not your standard blog writer who writes about a recipe that they have made, complete with pictures of the process and the finished dish. I have a major tendency I know to write about things I am anticipating making - the process of deciding what to cook for dinner. Occasionally I report on the actual meal, and even more occasionally there might be a photograph of the finished product. But not often I confess. Which could be frustrating. I shall try to be better - at least about the photographs and comments about the dish. It can always be a postscript.
I also note that I mentioned that this was a David's special meal which seems to be an idea that I had that has been dropped. Maybe I should restore it. I have partially replaced it by trying to make something new and something from a guru on alternate weeks, but David's special meal was quite a fun thing for him as well as me. He had to give me some vague idea of what to cook. Yes I'll reinstate that. I wonder why it got dropped? Maybe it was yet another victim of COVID.
Recently I have become somewhat less rigid about writing a daily blog or I've left it so late in the day that I haven't finished - as with this one. I go through ups and downs of inspiration I think and almost give up altogether. But then I go for a walk and as I walk I think and sometimes ideas pop into my head. Or the supermarket, a book, a newspaper article, something on TV might inspire - and then I'm off again.
I wonder if I shall get to 8.