View ‘I’ve set the chicken on fire. Do you want me to go?’

‘I’ve set the chicken on fire. Do you want me to go?’

Those were my words. I said them during one of my finals at Leiths School of Food and Wine. The exam required us to cook a classic of French cuisine: a supreme of chicken with a tarragon sauce, served with mashed potatoes and green beans. On that particular day, however, I found that simple fare…

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View ‘Breakfast is the most lonely meal of the day’

‘Breakfast is the most lonely meal of the day’

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This was true for my client growing up. For her, breakfast was important for reasons other than the tummy-filling, get-up-and-go energy fuelling it was supposed to be. She was the only one in her family of six who ate breakfast: ‘Nobody else felt…

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View ‘Flying the (shredded wheat) nest’

‘Flying the (shredded wheat) nest’

She did not mind her youngest child leaving the nest; she just wished she could have gone with her. My client described her 19-year-old daughter as beautiful and bright; she was a young woman who had vitality and curiosity, who wasn’t afraid to ask questions or to find what she wasn’t looking for. ‘The world’s…

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View ‘Unhappy soup at an unhappy table’

‘Unhappy soup at an unhappy table’

Her friends had different homes. And different mothers, who cooked different dinners. Her friends had cheery foods, all yellow in family: golden chicken nuggets, giant corn cobs, chunky chips and eggs with sunny, hope-filled yolks. At their tables there was chitter-chatter and cheekily stealing morsels from each other’s plates and squeezing as much ketchup over…

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View ‘She had Marmited her world’

‘She had Marmited her world’

I wanted toast after the session finished. Nothing else would do. This time, however, I found myself reaching for Marmite as my choice of spreadable companion to my toast, which was somewhat unusual for me. As was my relinquishing of tea; today was not about the soothing tag-team alchemy of tea and toast. No, this…

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View ‘I’d get upset when the packet finished’

‘I’d get upset when the packet finished’

Every day at school, two bells would ring at 1 o’clock sharp. The school bell, with its loud, shrill ring, signalled that lunchtime was finally here and that it was time to take care of hunger – of one sort, at least. The other bell started quietly, inside my client’s head. It slowly and slyly…

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View ‘I love you’ … ‘I know’

‘I love you’ … ‘I know’

This truly is a food love story; it starts with ‘I love you’. It also starts with a stew. And it starts a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. A father-son relationship is the backbone of both Star Wars and of this story my client told me about his own father’s Force-wielding,…

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View ‘I always put two cocktail cherries in his because he loved them. Probably more than he ever loved me.’

‘I always put two cocktail cherries in his because he loved them. Probably more than he ever loved me.’

Our conversation had snowballed into Snowballs. There was no doubt we had been jingled some of the way here because Christmas was only a few days away. Therapy, like any conversation, changes with the seasons, just as food does. To eat or drink seasonally is to know what it’s like to long for something and…

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View ‘It’s not Mum food’

‘It’s not Mum food’

It was the story of a little girl who used to defy bedtime on Fridays, with fierce fists and fiercer tears. She would wait, with both patience and pain, on the landing in the dark for her mum to return from work. Her little heart would skip a beat as she heard the quiet scrape…

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