This week was all about endings and beginnings. Markers in the sand. Moments in life that demand reflection and resolve. The first was the final goodbye to Collier’s Garage, the old Citroën car repair workshop where I’ve been cooking for the last 2 years.
Nostalgia is a big emotion for cooks. We are often guided by food we remember from our early experiences; it’s something that informs my approach, as well as the dishes I make. I want people to feel that they are in some sort of idealised kitchen, a place where they feel comfortable and comforted. Earlier this week I used gooseberries, red and black currants for summer puddings. People started getting teary about how they haven’t seen gooseberries since they were kids.
Talking of nostalgia, I was really struck by AA Gill’s review in last week’s Sunday Times. Something really touched a chord in me. His complaint is with fashionable claims for a faux authenticity around what is British cooking and eating. The idea of downplaying style, drinking out of jam jars and serving up giblets on tin plates might give restaurants a sort of Mumford & Sons throwback-to-the-gold-rush realness, he says, but it doesn’t make them authentic. And more importantly, it doesn’t make them good. Simplicity in the kitchen can be complicated and isn’t always the kind of weakly mimicked St John manqué menus you find in every gastropub.
The second is a beginning. All the equipment and furniture I had collected over the years in Islington were shipped over to my new place in Covent Garden. Another homely kitchen where I can start another adventure in cooking.