When I was pregnant I asked on this blog for film and TV series reccommendations, for all those long hours I would spend feeding the baby. Turns out I just watch Come Dine With Me on 4OD. What? At least it’s not Jeremy Kyle or worse (?), Loose Women. In the early days when feeding was an epic tale rather than a haiku, I could get through half a week’s worth of CDWM in one session as Leila snorfled and messed about at my bosom. I grew to love the enormous television- G’s redundancy gift to himself which, when first unveiled, made me cry (I was heavily pregnant; and it just looked vulgar). Culinary disasters and dastardly sidelong glances are so much more enjoyable 42 inches wide.
These days Leila is an old pro and can gobble down a feed in the time it takes for an onscreen souffle to collapse or a dog to snatch a starter from the kitchen counter. So my CDWM sessions are curtailed, but I plough on, picking up where I left off during Leila’s next feed. We even cooked a recipe from the programme the other day- does anyone actually do that? Ben de Lisi’s Italian sausages with peppers (it was a sleb episode, natch), if you’d like to know. Quite tasty, but misleadingly simple. Nil points for effort, BdL.
All this Come Dine With Me-ing got me thinking about my ideal menu- which remains a secret, lest I decide one day to enter myself to the programme- and then about the most memorable meals I have had. A few stand out: Granny’s chicken and ham pie with peas and mash on my 18th birthday, over which my best friend and I drank too much wine and disgraced ourselves slightly; a meal in a beautiful lakeside restaurant in France whilst on holiday with my family as a teenager- I don’t remember what we ate, just the warmth of us being all together, enjoying an extravagant treat; the fine dining experience G and I enjoyed on our anniversary last year, with melting wafers of tongue and marrow jellies and bread rolls so good I stashed them in my handbag- we were the only customers in the small, veh posh restaurant, which was at first disconcerting and then luxurious.
But the best, the very best and most delicious thing I have ever eaten came wrapped in tin foil and served up on a table over a hospital bed. After 12 hours of labour, 3 hours of pushing, a post partum haemorrhage and an operation; with my nethers in tatters and my heart exploding and my hormones going haywire ; as my tiny baby, not even 12 hours old, snoozed next to my bed whilst I had not slept for over 30 hours or eaten properly for nearly as long; amid all of this G came into my hospital room and presented me with a home made smoked salmon sandwich. A perfect sandwich, my ideal sandwich: brown bread, butter, salmon. No messing about with mayo or salad. Salty, soft, satisfying. It was pure, unadulterated bliss.
But the best thing about it was the consideration behind that sandwich. G knew it was my favourite, knew that I had been hankering after smoked salmon throughout the regimented pregnancy months, knew that it would be just the thing to restore me to at least a sliver of normal. Like all my most memorable meals, it was made or eaten , or both, with love.
And for that reason, I’m going to give it a ten.