New House New Priorities

I've recently moved house. It was completely empty, even down to having no carpets, and so I immediately had a lot of things to do: buy a fridge, paint the floors, buy a cooker, organise getting the Internet...on top of the usual: apply for jobs, run loneeaters, carry on being a designer, have a life. There was a lot of parallel thing to do. Things on very different planes, each important in their own way: it was impossible to know what to prioritise. 

Lunch, soon after moving into my new house, before I had a fridge or oven. Couscous salad: because it can be made with just a kettle, but I'm trying a new dressing to make it special.

Lunch, soon after moving into my new house, before I had a fridge or oven. Couscous salad: because it can be made with just a kettle, but I'm trying a new dressing to make it special.

If the goal of life is to be happy (I had a long discussion with my brother about this and you know what, it might be) what is going to make me happier? Having internet at my house so I can answer my emails in the comfort of my own home? Having a fridge so I can stock up on tasty food and not have lumpy milk in my tea every second morning? Or having a job so I don't have to sponge off my parents my the rest of my life?

Of course there are no easy answers and all these things: career goals, life admin and the rest of life need to continuously run in parallel. But when they all come to a head and need urgent attention, like when you get a new job, move house and move to a new city all in the same week, you're suddenly much more aware of these parallel roads, and that it's a choice to prioritise good food.

Love the story this tells! It's dark because I had to disconnect the downstairs lights because of a water leak, you can see all the bills and paperwork behind, yet it's a really 'proper meal' (fish and three veg no less) because I just got my oven.

Not having basic cooking equipment brought home the importance food has in my life: as something to look forward to, a pause in the day, ensuring I have the energy to go on and comforting me in times of stress. The list goes on! It was hard for everything to be up in the air, and not even have the possibility of making a nice dinner to reassure myself everything was fine.

May not look like much, but I was so happy to eat this mini 'Roast Dinner' at the time: lentil burger made from scratch, potato wedges, roast butternut squash and a yogurt and garlic dip.

May not look like much, but I was so happy to eat this mini 'Roast Dinner' at the time: lentil burger made from scratch, potato wedges, roast butternut squash and a yogurt and garlic dip.

I found food also played a strong comforting role while I was moving house, even when I only had a kettle and microwave. It's is a stressful time, and certainly for me there came a point, the afternoon after I'd been woken up by the fire alarm short circuiting due to a leak behind the bath and waiting all day on tenterhooks for the emergency repair guy to come, when you've really depleted all of your emotional buffer and need to curl up in bed with nothing more extravagant than a heated can of Heinz vegetable soup.

When everything else is changing, and you're stretched to the limit organising everything in your life, you don't want anything but pure comfort food. Couscous with oil can help soothe a frazzled brain and often give you the energy you need to carry on.

In my lowest moment, Heinz vegetable soup and couscous offered me comfort.

In my lowest moment, Heinz vegetable soup and couscous offered me comfort.

It brought home to me some of the soundest advice you can give or receive when everything seems to be going wrong: stop, eat something, drink something and get an early night. Going back to basics, and food really is a fundamental need, is a way to look after yourself in times of uncertainty and stress.

Fortunately, I could buy a fridge and mini oven in the first few weeks and food normality reasserted itself. But I was humbled by the restorative power food can have and it's importance in my day to day life satisfaction. 

Three cheers to the food (and people - not mentioned in this article but very much present even if not geographically so) that make life possible, sustainable and joyful.

xxx