Jet Lag

I am currently re-emerging from a fog-like funk, in which all I have managed to eat was instant noodles and chocolate bars. The cause of this slump was notably a couple of particularly gruelling transatlantic flights. Never much fun at the best of times, but coupled with long delays and passengers discussing the ritual killing of bears with a bow and arrow (and people PAY for this kind of entertainment), it becomes a battle of self-preservation that airline pretzels and chemically flavoured chocolate chip cookies cannot assuage.
Airplane food is always bad. You just know that the reason they never turn the lights out completely on a plane is because they know the food will glow in the dark. When I first started flying, it was a novelty, a welcome interruption to an otherwise tedious but necessary evil. Grey segmented trays packed with boulder-hard bread-rolls, packets of cheddar cheese and salty crackers (possibly the only saving grace of this sorry trayful), the lumpen, sludgy ‘main’ course which comprises of “chicken or pasta?” (I’m not sure if the air stewards are offering or questioning what they have in those industrial size trolleys), some salad which usually involves much too much celery and carrot for my liking and, finally, what should be the piece de resistance of any meal, the dessert. Ah yes, airline desserts. Always, without fail, some puff of wind, mousse type concoction that has been slathered on top of what can loosely be described as sponge but could feasibly be recycled mattress padding. This time it was chocolate/orange flavoured. Always a tricky combination in the hands of the most experienced chef and cursed with a ‘love it or hate it’ appeal, the very thought of that particularly noxious confection leaves me feeling nauseous even now. I managed one forkful and delicately passed the rest over to my husband who forced it down because he “wasn’t going to waste the food he had paid for”.
I am always envious of the ‘Alternative Menu’ passengers and have often wondered what other options you could get, simply by changing your religion. Perhaps some kosher delight or a spicy curry. I was jealous to see that the Vegan sitting in front of me was given a small glass vial of vinaigrette with a cork stopper! Enchanting.
Returning to damp England, I was greeted with the smell of plate fungus (which grows, almost alien-like, in the local churchyard. Must be something in the soil...) and curry houses. Home sweet home.
Feeling sluggish from all the food that we consumed over in America (pizza that was too salty, biscuits and gravy, eggs Benedict that was too fattening and I was introduced to that great American institution: the pie. I sampled Coconut Cream pie and Dime Bar Pie, a heady, layered concoction, chocolate, butterscotch and whipped cream. How can you go wrong?), I detoxed the only way I know how and that is by eating very little. I am now slowly regaining my verve for cooking thanks to several new cookbooks, including one by Tamasin Day-Lewis and Ina Garton, the Barefoot Contessa. I have already made a Raspberry Vanilla Cheesecake Pie, which was loved by two of the five people I cooked it for. Me, I thought it wasn’t sweet enough, nor cheesy enough. Some tweaking should bring it around to my taste bud’s way of thinking. Tonight I am going to make a Butternut Squash Tart with Goats Cheese and Sage.
It sounds tasty enough to be good for supper, and complex enough to make me feel like I’ve gotten back in to the swing of things.

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