Tuesday, October 05, 2010

i'm okay now. saunterelle

I feel i should caveat that the last post was written in a state of half-rage and unassuaged pain. Irrational and unjustified as it might have been – things were said that were possibly irrational and unjustified. And so while i’m not in the habit of editing what is already posted, a few editorial post-post comments might be in order. The Boy (can we call him a boy? or indeed anyone above the age of 30?) is not-an-asshole. Not a saint. But not an asshole. I would not be friends with an asshole. He doesn't deserve to be called an asshole and I apologise. That term should purely be reserved for the bottomest dregs of society. Like union bosses. I say that in jest. But only half so. Anyway, misunderstandings aside, we’ve apologised in some form to each other. It’s not the best of situations. But things need to be left as they are. I made my decision, and it was a reasoned one. Nothing’s changed and it is what it is. Life goes on. I am better than dwelling on it.

I have now majorly-calmed-down and had a good long talk with God. Thank God that he isn’t like one of my girlfriends – fabulous as they are and extremely grateful as i am for their friendship. God is much more supreme. And reliable. And infinitely patient as I’ve whined, reasoned unreasonably, cried, and cried some more. He doesn’t roll his eyes, or try to placate me. And He helps me.

So a week of crying-too-much-to-function like a drama queen, topped up by the weekend of i’m-not-getting-out-of-my-pyjamas-and-being-selfishly-self-indulgent. Enough is enough. Sunday morning saw me dressed in a tracksuit and uggs, dragging my heels to the corner shop to get the Sunday papers and a baguette. I had to summon all that was left of a smile and any ability to flirt at 10am on a Sunday morning to convince Mr Shopkeeper to let me off with owing him 18p. Hardly would have bankrupted him considering his extortionate mark-ups. It was a waste of a just baked baguette on me. I cursed its just warm freshness as i tried to slice it into rounds to make garlic bread – the only thing i could reasonably fathom subsisting on that day. I burnt the first lot in my zealous quest for garlic crispiness and cursed some more. I’d not usually advocate a diet of white bread, butter and a whole head of garlic. But comfort food has no rules. You eat what you like to stop the pain and the voice in the head that makes you rage and cry. You eat what appears to be the food version of a duvet. And hey, they say garlic is a superfood, and it possibly counts as one of my 5-a-day.

Anyway. The comfort eating must stop. The self-indulgence must be curbed. It is not healthy. And this post is not about garlic bread. I figured a 3 course sit-down lunch does not qualify as comfort eating – it’s the meal of emotionally balanced grown-ups. I have never read a scene in any chick-lit or watched a scene in a rom-com (both of which I am admittedly partial to in my less cerebral moments) where the girl, raw with pain and fresh hurt, takes her tears and her broken heart out to dinner at a Michelin starred restaurant and orders the tasting menu. No, she digs into cookies and cream ice-cream, pepperoni pizza or something equally disgustingly saturated fat and non-complex carbohydrate laden and slobs around in her tracksuit bottoms and a teeshirt with holes. It never is appetizing. I hate cookies and cream ice-cream and I haven’t eaten a pepperoni pizza since I was 14. The heart-break healing process in those books also always takes place in the company of some other equally men-hating sorority, and on a battered sofa or duvet and Kleenex ridden bed. No starched tablecloths or mid-century classics. I suppose I just want to do better than ice-cream and pizza, better than bowls of pasta and garlic bread. I know i can do better. I am better.

Anyway, in my quest to be all emotionally balanced and grown-up, i took myself to lunch at Saunterelle – the restaurant in the Royal Exchange. And i must say – i was most pleasantly surprised. That amidst the pin-striped middle aged men, the chatter of shipping deals being brokered at the next table, the soft furnishings, the starched tablecloths and the over-attentive waiters, i found an oasis of calm.
I started with confit of black chicken leg on a bed of lentils. It came garnished with fried quails eggs and a bacon strip so crisp it shattered with the lightest tap of my fork. The chicken was incredibly tasty. The bed of lentils, a mouthful of health, but swaddled lovingly in cream. Lentils make me think of gypsies. I’m not sure why.
I was very tempted by the mushroom risotto as my main. It screamed comfort. But i went instead for the slow-braised beef cheeks, with purple sprouting broccoli and the most unctuous funghi concoction ever. There was also a sprinkling of autumnal nuts of some sort. Nuts always seem autumnal to me – i see a nut, and i immediately see in my mind’s eye, a squirrel munching on it in preparation for the winter. Nuts are autumn. On a side note, did you know that there’s been a surge in the black squirrel population in the UK? Sad about the red squirrels though. I just read that in the news today. But I digress, the beef cheeks, slow braised to fork tender, and as i squashed the meat gently with my fork, its fibres fell apart gracefully like water ballet dancers in unified formation. Okay. I’m being dramatic. It was very yummy. I left a lone mushroom for the last mouthful and there was much shuddering in pleasure.

There was never any doubt that i was going to order the banana cake with peanut butter ice cream, caramel sauce and peanut brittle. Enough said. It’s like they read my mind and made me the ultimate crunchy peanut butter sandwich with banana and salty caramel in the form of cake and ice-cream. On a posh plate. On that note – i think smooth peanut butter is a complete waste of time, space and the earth’s resources. Who on earth eats that anyway when there’s the good crunchy stuff?

It’s amazing where one finds calm – i suppose it’s a state of mind rather than a physical location, but who knew that mine would involve starched tablecloths and a room full of pinstripe suited men? I suppose the food definitely helped.

To The Boy: On the very off chance that you ever read this blog (you probably don’t and i hope you don’t) – i hope all is well with you and I hope you’re okay. I still don’t think it’s a good idea we pretend to try to be friends right now. We will suck at it. But it is what it is. And hopefully one day, when we’re all grown up, when life’s settled a little more and the elements of the universe concur to cross our paths – it won’t be up to me to make any attempt to make contact otherwise – maybe we’ll be friends then. Take care you. In my prayers. x

the royal exchange
london ec3v 3lr


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