Rachel Agnew, TV Presenter, Loose Woman, Cashier No 3 please, After Dinner Speaker and Columnist

Note to Self (5)

I’ve got eight people coming for lunch on Sunday and I’m having a bit of a nightmare trying to decide what to cook. It’s not that there’s anyone fussy coming, nor are there any vegetarians, vegans or wheat, nut or lactose intolerants (thankfully). Just five adults and three kids under eight. So I want to make something that everyone will enjoy, and I don’t want to make something separate for the little ones, that’s not too much to ask is it?

I’d love to be one of those people who spends hours and sometimes days preparing a grand feast, utilising ingredients that only Heston Blumenthal has ever heard of. But that’s just not me. When I entertain at home, I want everyone to enjoy their meal of course, but it’s all about the social occasion rather than a fine dining experience.
You see I love food. Honestly, I get proper, unadulterated joy out of eating good, tasty food and I think that eating together is one of the most enjoyable ways to socialise. Whether it’s a big, raucous dinner party, a romantic meal for two, a beautifully presented cordon bleu platter or a steaming mound of shepherds pie, food feeds not only your body, but your soul too.

What I don’t get are those people who say they only eat because they need the fuel. Were they born without taste buds or something? And the ones I really hate are those ridiculously skinny women in the media who say they don’t try to be thin, they don’t have an eating disorder, it’s just that sometimes they simply forget to eat. OH PLEASE!  I have never forgotten to eat in my entire life and neither has anybody else I know.  Also, I must be one of the only people in the world who has literally never lost her appetite - through happiness, sadness or illness (even stomach upsets), I still want to eat.

So I suppose it’s a bit odd that even though I love eating good food, and love trying new things when I go out to restaurants, I’m utterly non-experimental with my own cooking. I have certain recipes that I can make really well and without too much effort, but I’m not adventurous. Frankly, if a recipe has more than 8 ingredients, it ain’t for me!

Don’t get me wrong though, no-one will ever go hungry in my house – I’m a Jewish mother for goodness sake – it’s against my natural instincts. (For those of you uninitiated into Jewish culinary culture, we always work on the premise that more is definitely not quite enough).  But what I lack in gastronomic finesse, I certainly try to make up for with decent quantities of good, tasty, old-fashioned home cooking, supported by plenty of vino collapso.

So I think I’ll do a roast on Sunday. You can’t really go wrong with that can you? Sunday roast, all the trimmings, gravy you can stand a spoon up in, wine, cheese, and biscuits and maybe a drop of port. Lovely.

NOTE TO SELF: They say you are what you eat, but if I am what I cook, then I am very happy to be a traditional dish, warm and tasty with a hint of sauce and very often pickled!

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Rachel Agnew

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