Depression Cuisine

A meal eaten alone, they say, is a banquet. I came home this dark evening after a session at the gym to find the cupboard bare. Not wishing to chance my arm with a debit card at the end of the month, since I'm still basically paying off the debt that fuelled my swerve into the law and the bar a couple of years ago, I thought that I'd use the remains of some of the stuff in the cupboard to test the popular proposition. You find me, reader, quite as smug as ever, having polished off a sort of poor man's latke.

There's a lot to be said for basic, filling cuisine. I was a terror with noodles and teriyaki sauce in the past, and you'd be amazed what I can do with a pineapple. Suggestions of what I can do, well, keep those to yourself.

Munching a slice of cheese on toast, which is always better with a spot of bovril or marmite on the buttered toast beforehand, I wondered what to do. I decided to knock up some instant mashed potato I once bought for emergencies--though some mealie meal that I got cheap around the corner would have done just as well. There are benefits to this part of London, Australafrican colony that it is. If I'd used the mealie meal I would have stuck a fish stock cube and some dill and tuna in it, but as it happens, I didn't have to. That can be lunch to-morrow, curried probably.

While I whipped the potato mix--and we're hardly talking Delia Smith or some culinary Mozart here--I heated some Korean and Olive oils in a pan, and then slipped a load of butter, thyme, pepper and knorr aromat a friend from Germany once introduced me to, into the reconstituted potato. I even managed to scrape some coriander from the bottom of a jar.

One good, pancake style set of flips later and I had a peppery, ersatz 'bubble and squeak' which was crisp, tasty and savoury, topped with ketchup. No eggs, leeks or cabbage, but Cortez himself would never have feasted so, nor any Rabbi.

My meal would have gone well with a baldrick shiraz, or a beer. I polished that and a bottle of something Bulgarian off a few days ago, so I was left with the dust of some nilgiri tea. Bet you thought I was going to knock some up--well, my powers have limits. Tea's a fine drink though.

If I'd thought about it, I would have softened some onions in oil and then added the potato, but a spot of pepper and soy and I was over the moon. All in all, I'm satisfied.

My sense of what makes a meal wasn't, though, nor my gym toned gut. So, I mixed a last slice of battenberg with some trifle left over from the other day and--well, a proper North European banquet was held.

When I think of some of the restaurant meals I used to have, few were as tasty. I rarely dined alone, and I've had some good, good meals, but they don't often come with the added delusional benefit of overcoming adversity, or at least the sense thereof. Who'd have thought we'd live again in the west to use a phrase like 'in happier times'?

Benedictus benedicat, frankly. Deo Gratias. I can't complain. What I most want now, and I won't have one, is a nicely toasted cigarette--some American Spirit or Lucky strike, maybe--and a glass of rich dark wine. That would push my meal too far, and give my bank account a connery, as they say in the East End, I am told.

If you are in the same position as I, but you have a family and mortgage and aren't waiting till payday but at the end of the line, I know how silly this post will seem.

You've got to learn from those who endured worse than before, though--you've got to eat and there's no need for your food to taste bad. Check out the back of that cupboard, and muck about with the bland stuff. If you have meat, make scouse; potatoes, make latkes. There's nothing in that cupboard that you can't use, and with a bit of ingenuity it can come out right. I once knew a woman who could cook with leaves--now there was a hardy girl, and she'd keep you warm in the winter at the drop of a mercury measure.

And hold on. Apart from those responsible, which is pretty much the entire higher reaches of the media-political class and financiers, we are all in the same boat and those who think they are not are going to end up in it soon. Even the politicians are beginning to feel the financial waters, in this country at least. Given that global warming isn't happening, they're the only waters rising, after all. Equity is disappearing everywhere. Your credit rating now doesn't matter, and if you can just hold on, you'll come through.

But you'll come through much better with some good warm food inside you. Be brave; Zeit Nit Kain Nar. Gelt farloren, gor nit farloren--mut farloren, alts farloren!

Good night nurse.


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