Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Food, Glorious Food
Although I was born in the summer, October always marked the start of my favourite part of the year when I was child. The days were turning darker and more mysterious, the nights longer. October meant Hallowe'en, even if it was thirty-one days away, and, less than a week after that, Bonfire Night; and then it was the Blue Peter Advent Crown and the run-up to Christmas. October was the beginning of a magical three months of excitement and anticipation.
Back then, winters were colder, winds wilder, and rain wetter. To warm us up around the bonfire, or on the rec' down the road where we played safely till well past sundown, we stoked ourselves up on traditional comfort food.
Creamy Lancashire cheese-on-toast, bubbling brown under the grill. Jacket potatoes glistening with butter, baked in silver-foil, eaten in the cold with mittened hands. Pea and ham soup, and piping-hot potato-pies. Mouth-wateringly rich parkin on November 5th, and treacle toffee so sticky and hard you needed to see the dentist afterwards. And my favourite: brown parched peas, eaten outside on the doorstep from a paper bag, nutty and salted, dripping with malt vinegar, and one of the few things from Up North I still miss. Them posh Southerners didn't know what they were missing out on.
And today? Well, the dwindling daylight hours are making me grumpy, and I'm already dreading the tinsel season, as well as next month's kiddie pyrotechnics. I've cut sweet things out from my diet, I spread lo-fat gunk on my organic bread instead of butter, I seldom eat cakes, and it's just not done to eat fish 'n' chips on the street anymore. And tonight, if I'm not microwaving a bland Be Good To Yourself at home, then it'll probably be sushi or some similar noodled nonsense in an air-conditioned West End canteen.
Wish I were a kid again.