Wednesday, 5 October 2016

HOLY HUNGER - MY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD + COLLECTING RECIPES

“Somewhere close behind air and water is the need for food.” ― L.J. Martin



Food is one of the basic building blocks of life, we need the nutrients and energy from food to be healthy, happy human beings, but my relationship with food hasn't always been so simple. For quite a while when I was younger I had a bad relationship with food, only eating when I had to (i.e at dinner when I had no choice to). I remember when my mum used to give me money for breakfast club or lunch I'd save the money instead and only eat when I got home. As a result I was an extraordinary skinny teenager at around a size 6, which on some people looks very healthy, but on me, being slightly taller than average, I looked gaunt and very sick. This was made worse by the fact I was stuck with puppy fat for quite a long time so I went from a cute rosy cheeked kid to a stick insect (an actual description by a guy at school called Jake, thanks Jake). The contrast was pretty shocking and while I was still in my final year at primary school my mum ensured I had a packed lunch so I couldn't just fob off not eating. It worked fairly well, till I went to secondary school. Have you been in a secondary school canteen? It's the nosiest, most cramped and stupidly busy place ever, especially my 'lower school' (year 7 and 8) one which was essentially a shoe-box. Add in this, and the fact you weren't as well monitored I fell back into bad eating habits again. By year 9, aged 14, I was then in an extremely bad relationship that only exacerbated my bad eating habits. Thankfully at 15, with the help of wonderful friends and my now boyfriend of nearly 7 years I got away from a class-a douche and slowly learnt to care for myself, and a big part of this was rediscovering a love of food.

I had always been interested in cooking and baking, my mum used to be a baker and during our childhood she would often get my and my sister involved with baking cakes, bread, and so on. Sadly, when I got older I was surrounded by very negative perceptions of food. I remember in year 4 girls talking about dieting and in year 5 how a friend refused to drink the milk given to her by a dinner lady as it had 'too much fat in it' and that she was 'trying to lose weight'. Yeah, if people ever say the media doesn't influence little girls to feel crap about themselves I will rub that anecdote in their face.
(Courtesy of stocksnap.io)
Basically, until I hit 16 I hated food and felt a sense of guilt towards liking it, because liking food in any sense seemed gluttonous and 'fat', if I did I was a pig. It also gave me a sense of control (and punishment) for when I was in a bad place, but once I got out of the at place it became so much easier for me to start to have a positive relationship with food. Once I left my bad relationship and got into a new one with my current boyfriend I realised I felt much more comfortable around him. he was, and still is my best friend, and I felt that he never judged me or my eating habits, as my ex could do. Being young and incapable of doing much else but go to the cinema or stay at home and eat stuff-crusted pizza in way of dates I slowly learnt to eat more and realise that food wasn't bad, and that I actually enjoyed making and eating it. Over the summer before I went back to sixth form I put on some weight, and when I got back To school everyone commented on it. At first I took it badly,  But then realised that what people were saying about the weight gain was good. They said I had gotten a butt and looked curvy, and much much healthier, which was 100% true. When I look back at old pictures now I almost want to cry because of how clearly unhealthy I look. I can't say that I'm 100% happy with my body now (because who is?) but I know I'm in a much better and healthier place than that girl 6+ years ago.

It's amazing to me now how much I avoided even talking about food for fear of myself coming across like a greedy pig. I remember in my year 6 SATS we had to describe our favourite food and, as someone who was meant to be getting top marks, I actually dropped quite a few because I found it so uncomfortable to see food positively and struggled with the exam. When I started to realise that I liked making and enjoying good food I ran with it, because i didn't want to be that little girl who was disappointed with her English grade because she felt fat writing about apple pie. Collecting recipes and recipe books has really helped with this process and it's something I recommend to anyone, whether you've had issue with food or not. Nurturing my foodie interest has helped me see food, not as a enemy, but a friend, one who nurtures me physically and emotionally.  I'm sure my mum sighs when I railroad her plans for a simple breakfast of tomatoes on toast and turn it into blistered cherry tomatoes cooked in balsamic vinegar with caramelised mushrooms and lashings of Italian herbs, but it's something I truly enjoy now and I'm so happy I finally say that.

(Courtesy of stocksnap.io)
The great thing about being a foodie is that it often coincides with my love for books, meaning I can collect recipes and recipe books and fulfil both my love for cooking and everything literary. I love reading non-fiction cookery books such a memoirs, or books that have a foodie theme; it's a crossover of two of my loves that I love to indulge. Part of this indulgence is my avid collection of recipes and recipe books which has one of my favourite, if saddest hobbies. I currently have a large folder under my bed heaving with cuttings from magazines, and the only reason my bedroom and the kitchen are not bursting with cookbooks is because: 1. I only have a tiny bookshelf & 2. I live with my mum and I think it'd be unfair to take over her kitchen with my recipe books as well as all my crazy herbs and spices. I find it incredibly soothing looking at my odd collection, it has managed to help me come to terms with my tumultuous relationship with food as well as broaden my love for it, and expand my love for books further than before.

Due to this I've made a short list of the ways I collect my recipes. It is a hobby that blurs the lines between foodie and bibliophile and I can often be found poring over a recipe book like I would a classic; I find the same level of enjoyment in reading a cookbook as I would do a fictional book and, at some point in the near future, will give my recommendations of my favourite food related books. For now, here's how I collate all my recipes and books if you decide to be a weird hoarder like myself (because really you can never have too many recipes for pasta):

GOOD OLD BOOKMARKS
Yep, bookmarks, it's an obvious one but I might as well mention it. It's not my favourite way of organising my recipes as I often forget to sort them out properly, which is  nightmare if I'm trying to look for a specific one, but if you can get yourself much better organised that me then this one works extremely well for collecting recipes from blogs you might like. On Google Chrome you can have sub-folders within larger folders, and also place folders on the bookmarks bar for easy access while browsing so it's a great alternative to saving the recipes to your hard drive as word documents, like I used to.

CUTTINGS FOLDER
The most old school and weirdly one of my personal favourite ways of storing recipes. I don't know why but I much prefer having a physical copy of a recipe in my hands as opposed to reading it off my phone or computer, there's something nice about having pages of glossy rip-outs to flick through, maybe it's the weird proclivity for nostalgia in me. I also really love the food photography that often comes in magazines which is why I never type those recipes up, no matter how tatty the page may get. Food photography is beautiful damn it.

PINTEREST
Pinterest is a recipe hoarders dream. I have probably got hundreds of recipes that have caught my eye squirrelled away in various defined categories for me to look into later. It's delightfully visual, which I love, and in most cases pops you back to the blog or website the recipe was originally from; I've followed many a great food blog from a single post on Pinterest. Below is my sweet thangs board, it has 997 pins on it which I will whittle down someday....maybe.


EBOOKS
Yep, you can get recipe books as ebooks. I have a file on my computer of recipe books (converted from epub to PDF for ease of opening)  that is full of loads of recipes and books I wouldn't have the space for otherwise. Like with free ebooks, there are many different newletters and websites that can lead you to deals towards cheap or free recipe ebooks. One great place is Book Bub who send you daily emails showing you the ebooks that are either free or discounted on that day according to the genres you pick. It's pretty neat. For the link to their recipe book list click here.

LIBRARY
At least in my local library, they stock cookbooks, which is wonderful if, like me, you love the feel and weight of a physical recipe book, but can't warrant littering your house with tonnes of them. I did see a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe book in my library once, at that point I wasn't into my cooking and was just looking for reference material for a dreary piece of coursework (the medical section was right by the cookery section for some unknown reason). I'd definitely look in the library while you're in there grabbing your usual stuff, it's  great way to get into different foods without breaking the bank on a cookbook you might hate or never use again.

RECIPE JOURNALS
This is probably better for those who create their own recipes, like me and my bajillion different recipes for cheesecakes. These have pages blocked out with sections for the recipes and all the details, including prep and cooking time, serving sizes and, obviously, instructions. Many often have sections to place in recipe cuttings too which is neat. Below are my three favourite examples from Paperchase i.e the God's of everything stationary. Click on the image to see more details!




So that's my relationship with food and how it has progressed with the overlapping of the foodie and literature worlds. It created a safe and familiar place in which I could develop a better, healthier version of myself who isn't afraid to talk about how damn good that apple pie was. If you have any cookbooks to recommend, or know a great way to store recipe, or have experienced the same unsure relationship with foods I have please comment below or get in touch with one of my social networks below!

goodreads, twitter, instagram




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