Chicken Pastilla, Cherry and Pistachio cake, People who think Everyone Fancies them and Tinder’s men called Glen
I hadn’t realised when I posted my last thingy that it was so confessional, or that I was saying anything difficult. I’ve always had a weird thing about writing where I write just kind of to myself or like an email to a friend and don’t ever imagine that other people might actually read it. I mean, with a little blog, of course, that’s usually true, but I did the same thing in my Times column a hundred years ago and was always really shocked when people quoted something very private at me as if I’d told them, which I never would have done as they are a complete stranger. Etc.
ANYway, it was really touching to get so many kind messages and comments about my impending operation and how odd it is to get to the end of fertility.
I wonder how I might be attractive still, just from a mammalian point of view, and how it will feel. Glanced at Tinder again as I occasionally do and am appalled by the number of men called Glen. What’s with that? Though this is the least of their worries, obviously. Seriously though, there were four Glens on my last scroll. Is this WHY they’re single? Or is it the yellowing teeth, greyish complexion, motorbike in the background, description of themselves as “fun-loving” or the list of negatives – no time wasters (what the fuck are you doing with your precious time, Glen?), no heavy drinkers (oh dear), no one night stands (you should be so lucky).
Speaking of being so lucky, I’ve got a few friends who think everyone fancies them. This has always been a source of great bafflement to me since no supermodel could guarantee (or imagines) that everyone fancies them and none of these friends is that. Also, who cares if that fat, old, drunk man wants to have sex with you or not? I was thinking about this in terms of being beyond sexual notice (re. hysterectomy) and remember being pregnant and feeling – God, who am I if I’m not foxy? I don’t even know. When I sat next to men at dinners before I was pregnant they looked fucking delighted, if a bit nervous. Once I was pregnant they looked up blankly and only what I said counted. Clearly a lot of people live like that all the time but I hadn’t before. I now realise, that like my weird friends who think everyone fancies them, I was used to being objectified, took it for granted, objectified myself, encouraged or forced it. I hated it and hated not having it. I kept my eyes down a lot and was rude a lot, just to get people to back the fuck off. So, it’s not really that they think everyone actually fancies them, it’s that they only see themselves as either fancied or not fancied. There’s no other category for women who view themselves in the male gaze and are resigned to, or encourage, objectification. Okay, long and heavy, but maybe post-fertility will be this liberating area of total post-objectification (though psychoanalysis pretty much put paid to that anyway).
So, back to hormonal comfort food. Both these things are from the Honey and Co. cookbook. The cake is really easy (blend and cook) and the pastilla is way easier than they make it sound. You just fry chicken and onion in spices, wrap it in butter-brushed filo pastry and bake it for fifteen minutes. Honestly, it’s that easy. There is no need for all the pan swapping and stuff the recipe insists on.
Cherry, Pistachio and Coconut Cake
190g sugar (they suggest half normal, have light brown, but, seriously, any is fine)
180 ground almonds, 30g ground pistachios, 45g dessicated coconut, 50g self-raising flour, pinch of salt
1tsp of mahleb (crushed cherry stones, for sale in Middle Eastern food shops but I’m sure it would be good without this and you could just put vanilla essence in)
150 melted butter, 3 eggs
300g cherries (I used 1 and a half tins of Waitrose stoned cherries drained of their “light syrup”, really delicious and a hell of a lot easier)
50g chopped, crushed or whole pistachios
So, mix everything except cherries and chopped pistachios together in a bowl or blender and put in a parchment-lined cake tin, heavy frying pan or whatever. Chuck the cherries and pistachios on top and bake until golden on a middlish heat with a pan of water in with it. Best cake ever.
6 chicken thighs (pigeon? anything probably), salt, pepper, 100g dates, 3 onions, a cinnamon stick (or some ground cinnamon), a chilli, 2 tbsp of ras el hanut spice mix, 240ml water, pack of filo pastry and some melted butter.
They make it sound complicated and have you frying chicken, removing it, doing other stuff, putting stuff aside. No need. Fry all the filling ingredients in olive oil until the chicken and onions are nice and brown, then add the water and simmer for …half an hour? Longer if you like. Cut all the chicken up or pull it apart. Line a heavy frying pan, baking tray, cake tin, with buttered filo pastry. Add the filling (drain it first if too wet), close the pastry so it’s a pie, patch up with more buttered filo if it splits (mine did) and bake in a hot oven for fifteen minutes. This is so easy and so delicious. Eat it with watercress in salt and lemon juice. I did.
(The recipe says for 6 normal people or 4 shameless ones – me and my son at the whole thing in one go….)
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