Fermentalist with a fetish for fatty foods. Don't listen to those looneys telling you that fat is bad for you. Love your gut, eat real food. Writer at Irish Examiners on Saturdays and Irish Independent and Sunday Times, Food and Wine Mag and Tourism Ireland
I was about to leave the house in the late hours of this morning when I got a text from a friend "I'm calling over with sourdough, get coffee on", it read.
I immediately changed my plans and got the kettle on, ground the beans (yes I do) and cleaned the coffee pot (don't get me started on Nespresso, if you don't enjoy the ritual of making coffee you shouldn't drink it, anyway Nespresso has no taste ...and so on). I love freshly ground and brewed coffee with real flavour, served nice and hot and strong enough to put hairs on your tongue.
Very few people call to my house with food, I know this is because it's mainly something that people just don't do much of and if you're a cook like I am, everyone is afraid that I'll be judging them. I'm so happy to get a boiled egg I'll probably try and get you into bed if you give me anything else, with the exception being my Mother of course who still brings me dinners when the shit hits the fan as it does now and again. And when that happens, few things warm me (literally and metaphorically) more than a home cooked meal that's cooked by anyone but me.
People ask me all the time "what's your favourite food" and I reply "the thing I didn't cook".
When you cook all the time, whether you want to or not, cooking becomes a chore, no matter how much you like it. We have had roasted chicken carcasses for dinner ( I et these for free which, by the way is one of my boys favourite things) and rice because my boys will cook that, and boy do I enjoy nibbling those bones that I didn't have to administer.
My pal with the sourdough can cook, that's why he's the only person probably ever who will bring me sourdough. Who needs flowers when you can use flour? My youngest said he liked his bread more than mine, so he's been told to move out.
But what we talked about was not food, well maybe we talked about cheese for the first twenty minutes, but the cult of being busy. As a busy man, wrecked from long days, my friend is one of many worn out people. He had been reading an article of how we define ourselves by how busy we are and I nodded in agreement as I realised I had done zero actual work, other than being a busy Mum and promoting my book, in about two weeks. It's so common for folk to respond to invitations, or turn down invitations because they are busy, busy working, busy looking for work, busy working out, busy going out or just busy being wrecked from being so damn busy. I can be busy too, if you call to my house when I'm busy I may answer the door wearing my sons track suit bottoms and my favourite, ancient cardigan with massive holes in it and three pairs of glasses on different parts of my head looking like a demented homeless lunatic. I am under the busy spell too. It's not that we are busy, but the cult of busy that's the problem. It's ok to be not busy, do we have to define ourselves by how 'busy' we are? When we are so busy an so tired that we can't sleep, we get adrenal fatigue and are producing so much stress hormones that we hold on to excess weight around our middles. So, be nice to yourself or you'll hold on to excess weight and still be busy.
Sometimes I ask friends if they want to go for coffee or, heaven forbid, a walk in the woods on a sunny Spring day. Mostly they are busy. Everyone is busy. Even if people are not busy, busy-ness is bandied about like a good thing. We used to want to be hot and sexy, now it's busy. Words like swamped and shattered are thrown around like trophies.
My definition of success is waking up from natural causes, as in, without an alarm clock. Sometimes I wake bright and early which is great, I love those days. Other times I wake later which doesn't matter as I answer to no-one and newspaper editors of lifestyle sections are generally happy and easy going types. Either way it's easy to open my laptop and start working even in my PJs. My other definition of success is having someone locked in a room to do all my laundry, but that's another story.
And so I took my not too busy butt to the gym tonight. The gym I frequent is attended by those who work out and those who sit in the giant hot tub passing comment on everybody who works out. As I bat for both sides and watch humans like a hawk, I have a swim after the gym and then sit judgementally in the jacuzzi where, for some reason, few people go. A man got into the tub beside me and smiled, I love this as I know we're up for a chat and I feel so uncomfortable when people just stare into the distance, I must have banter.
The man sighed and said what a long day he had and asked me "You too?", I shrugged not really as all I had done was started one article and made a balls of it and left it until tomorrow to do it again. He asked me what I do and I told him. He asked me how many hours I spend a week in my work and I couldn't answer him, dithering that most of the time I spend working is in my head, planning what I will write, organising classes and of course, always looking for more work, lots of this can be done while doing other things. He seemed to find this intriguing and lamented that he has time for nothing, just work. He doesn't go running any more, he doesn't eat properly, nothing.
He asked me if I do other things like running. I said I have children and I go to the gym and do pilates and stuff and I meet friends for coffee and sourdough and go and sit in the park and read books when it's warm enough. Sometimes I go downtown for no reason, because something good always happens. If it's especially nice out I'll take a figayree and spin to the beach for a walk on a sunny and windy day, this is the best thing ever.
I think this man is younger than me and has no children. I asked him what he's working so hard for. He said "to be rich", and smiled. And he asked me "Are you rich?" and I said "Well I have no money but yes, I think so".
As I got out of the tub to get into the sauna, enjoying the first world problems conversation I said to him
"But you have time to be in the jacuzzi, so are you really that busy?".