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Almost perfect or good enough? October 2012

posted Nov 4, 2012, 6:23 AM by Dinner Lady   [ updated Dec 7, 2012, 7:26 AM ]
"Mum, I love you more than 101 giants standing on top of each other". My heart swelled and my eyes welled as I thought how lucky I was to have such a loving and emotionally articulate son in The Noble Knight.  Later. "Mum, I love this pasta more than 1001 giants standing on top of each other". I rejoiced in my son's love of food, yet was slightly miffed that by all accounts he seemed to love my cooking more than me.  In trying to describe and quantify his feelings, The Noble Knight has attempted to create order through the development of some fantastical unit of measurement.  

We humans seem to have a need to quantify, order and compare, whether through growth charts for our new born babies, league tables for schools or various publications of Rich Lists, and this is something I have been trying to do through Four and a half bellies.  This month the project turned one year old, in that I have been writing about food and trying to stick to our foodie Rules and Regulations since the beginning of last October.   The log of all that was consigned to the bin, the food shop receipts, our family weekly menu were all units of measuring if I was becoming a 'better' Dinner Lady, what ever that means.  But I have to admit that after a year of pedantic notes, tiresome lists and obsessive sums, I am none the wiser as to whether I have improved my culinary habits.  In terms of knowing where I stand in relation to the 'perfect' Dinner Lady, I have to admit that I don't know.  Is this because she* doesn't exist? Or in order for her to exist do we first need to define her? This alone is fraught with difficulties: is she  environmental crusader or family budget setter?  Delicious home cooker or games with the children player? Ethical eater or easy maker?  (Note to self:  when defining perfection, perhaps I should actually be substituting 'and' for all those 'or's?!) 

Hitting our weekly budget was a tedious and rather impossible task, but rather easy to chart: forever aspiring, yet always failing, to climb down a few notches from "spent too much money" to "spent what we could get away with".  Somehow I managed to strike some kind of balance between producing home cooked food, working and spending time with the family (although this was done at the expense of reading novels, a luxurious bit of me time that has fallen by the way side as I crawl into bed each night too exhausted to do anything but lie thinking how tired I am)!  As the year progressed ethical food choices increasingly seemed to preoccupy my mind and I struggled to define what 'ethically mindful food' meant, let alone know how to evaluate how ethical my culinary behaviour has been.  

Worst of the waste

- 1 tub taramasalata -just forgot it was there

- 1 head lettuce that lay languishing in the fridge

Three best food saves

- using the juices from Gigi's roasted chicken pieces to add to a soup

-we have been giving Princess Baby smaller portions and so there is much less food wasted from her plate each meal - literally one small spoon of everything seems to be all she wants to eat at the moment.

- teaching Princess Baby to eat her crusts has saved loads from the bin