Sunday, 8 January 2012

Happy New Year - A late Christmas Present

I am aware I am 8 days late with the Happy New Year, but it didn't seem right starting my first post of 2012 without saying it, so there it is.

I have struggled to get into the swing of things this first week back into reality after a very relaxing and special, almost two weeks of festive celebrations with friends and family. My first low Fodmap Christmas and New Year was special, much loved and in no way any less indulgent than previous years. The one big difference, I was healthy, happy and could enjoy myself as much as everybody else. Thank you low Fodmap.

All that said, until this moment I had hit a cooking and writing wall. I did plenty of cooking over the Festive period, but enjoying the lack of reception at my parents house, none of this was ever destined for the blog. With a premature and abrupt end to the festive period (well that's how it felt to me anyway), there seems to have been no time this week to do anything apart from the day job, eat leftovers and try to sleep.

I thought the festive period was completely over, but I had one surprise still to come. A surprise that came at just the right time.

The weekend before Christmas I agreed to take part in a Twitter Secret Santa #twittersecretsanta organised by @philiplarkin - no not the poet - but a very creative Irish laddie who lives in Glasgow. Anyway the rules were this, you agreed to take part, once Philip had all participants, he then sent you your Secret Santa to send a gift to. The budget was £5 but you could go under or over this at your discretion; time limits meant most people wouldn't be getting the gifts until after Christmas but this added to the excitement. You were given the twitter name of the person you were to buy a gift for so you could go check them out, maybe find any associated websites, blogs etc and then try and come up with the best gift you can. I did this and have since sent my gift on. No, I cant tell you what I sent or then it wouldn't be a secret but I certainly hope they liked it.

But back to my surprise. Yesterday, I received a package. And to be perfectly honest I had forgotten about #twittersecretsanta, as I had sent my gift off, and I had been rushing about yesterday so it was the last thing on my mind. I collected my parcel and brought it back to the flat, I love getting parcels, so as soon as I was inside I tore it open and this is what I found.

A beautifully wrapped gift, the effort and thought of the wrapping alone was enough to make me well up. But it was to get better; what was inside left me speechless.

It was a beautiful original edition of a book called The International Cookery Book edited by Ambrose Heath. A complete stranger took part in a social media game, got given my name and this is what they picked for me. It really is amazing. I think the word I first used in a text message to my sister was awesome. The thought and care that went into both the wrapping and the present literally blew me away.

I have since had great pleasure reading some of recipes this book has to offer. What was perhaps groundbreaking when the book came out in 1953, is now a great source for me to go back to some great recipes, time honoured traditions in cooking, that we may these days forget. For example, potato croquettes, beef soup (bouillon), fish chowder, dumplings of all varieties, goulash and many, many more. It also includes traditional recipes from many places including France, Hungary, Greece, West Indies, USA, Russia, Scandinavia, perhaps many countries that I would have never thought to look for inspiration. The pictures alone are enough to bring a kitsch smile to your face.

Ambrose Heath writes in the editors foreword:

'Perhaps the best tribute I can pay to the collections which form this book is, that when I was reading the proofs I was constantly wishing to transfer my activities from the study to the kitchen, so attractive did many recipes seem. I see no reason why the readers of this book should not feel the same: indeed, I very much hope they will' - And I certainly will.

So, if there is any chance that the stranger who bought me the book is reading this, Thank You. Thank you for the thoughtful gift, Thank You for the beautiful wrapping (it certainly added a certain something) and Thank You for inspiration. It has certainly got 2012 off to a good start for me. It has inspired me, and given me faith that even when all seems rubbish and difficult, there are a lot of good people in the world that can do nice things. Restoring faith in human nature; No better way to start a year.

Now thank you to you for allowing me this indulgent post without Fodmap content, but be rest assured that this book will provide many hours of cooking and recipes for me to adapt, and for you to enjoy.

Happy New Year!

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