100daysofgrievances #22 THE FEAR, DRY JANUARY AND GOING VEGETARIAN

I fully intended to compose a wee piece on the gripes I have relating to bad grammar, and to publish it on the first of January. I’ve been itching to write it for a while now, but keep putting it off as I know that I will make at least one glaring grammatical error. Let’s face it, nobody likes a hypocrite (and some of us actively abhor them). So, my logic was that if I were to publish on New Year’s Day (see, I’m already worrying that I shouldn’t have capitalised that…), then fewer people would be bothered to read to the end (it shall stretch to many pages, believe me!) and folks definitely wouldn’t be able to summon up the energy to point out any mistakes. Well, that was my thinking, anyway…

Alas, it was not to be. Despite my vehement declarations that I wasn’t going to drink on Hogmanay, I awoke the following day with a pounding head, a furry mouth, my boots still firmly attached to my feet and a niggling worry I had lost something important (but no desire to actually get out of bed and attempt to locate my elusive phone, purse and keys). I was also suffering from an acute case of The Fear (no question as to the capitalisation of that!).

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For those who have never fallen foul of The Fear, it is possibly the most debilitating symptom of a hangover known to man (or woman: no sexism here). That omnipresent feeling of worry that settles relentlessly over the hangover victim like a heavy black shroud. Whilst aware that although you can remember SOME stuff from the previous night (if not all of it), there’s that niggling doubt that maybe there’s something you’ve forgotten, blocked from your mind, as it were. Something bad. Something embarrassing. Something involving ill-advised flirtations or serious spillages. Inklings relating to regrettable karaoke participation and dreadful drunken dancing. Fragmented memories of bottles of sauce dishonestly procured from restaurants, minor wardrobe malfunctions, lost garments and forgotten names. A sneaking suspicion that you quite possibly partook in the gate crashing of a private party. Hints of tears, tantrums and recriminations… and JÄGERBOMBS! I’m getting Fear flashbacks of days gone by even as I type! The worst thing is, I don’t have to get rip-roaringly drunk in order to fall victim; I am sometimes Fearful after a mere glass or two of vino.  There is no predicting when it might strike…

Unlike the physical symptoms of a hangover, no amount of Lucozade, Peep Show, or assorted cheeses will even touch The Fear. In fact, it might even make it worse, in a tenuous link sort of a manner (cheese, mmm, I like yummy cheese… But I hate cheesy music *** FLASHBACK ALERT *** no, no surely I couldn’t possibly have got into an argument with the DJ about his choice of tunes, could I? That doesn’t sound like me AT ALL…That’s it, I’m going back to bed to hide.)

Nothing alleviates The Fear quite like a text from your partner in crime (even if you don’t actually recall seeing them the previous evening – a mere technicality). Something along the lines of: “Oh god, I’m dying. Did I make a holy show of myself last night?” Even if it cannot lift it completely, the knowledge that you are not alone in your shame is something of a balm to the tortured and hungover soul.

Staying with the subject of Fear alleviation, there is one other cure of sorts; comparison. As a Favourite Customer (also well deserving of capitals), Pat (may he rest in peace) said to me on more than one occasion as I cringed behind the bar, avidly avoiding both eye contact and any customer likely to order my tipple of choice from the previous evening: “I wouldn’t worry too much; you’ve seen every single person in this pub far drunker than you were last night.”  Words to live by – thanks Pat!

So, crippled by The Fear, unable to move too far from the bathroom, and definitely in no fit state to gaze at a screen, 100daysofgrievances: BAD GRAMMAR was put on hold until at least next week. Next week I shall be fighting fit as I am taking up kickboxing (whole other story) and giving up alcohol. Not forever, you understand; that would be crazy talk! No, whilst I am giving up the lethal combination of jägerbombs and Cava forevermore, no other alcohol will pass my lips for the duration of January or February. I say NO alcohol, but I’m allowing myself a few notable exceptions, those being a birthday, a long-time-planned lunchtime catch-up and a wee Burns’ night whisky or two. I personally think that’s good going – no point setting oneself unattainable goals, is there?

Not one to do things by halves, I’m also going veggie for January. As already established, the 1st was a complete write-off – I managed to consume a small amount of plain pasta at around 9pm – but my hunger returned with a vengeance on the 2nd and I began the day with a veggie Mexican breakfast (think beans and peppers and onions and spice and baked eggs):

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I’m hoping that photo uploaded – as discussed previously, technology is really not my forte. If it did, you’re probably thinking exactly what I was: well, that looks quite nice but what it could really do with is a nice bit of chorizo to give it a bit of depth… I added some cheese in a vain attempt to satisfy my carnivorous tastebuds. It worked to a certain extent, but I think I’m deluded if I expect to end this month skinny and unrecognisable (and, let’s face it, unrecognisable might be good if I keep being reminded of any more of my shenanigans of the other night…). As long as I substitute meat with cheese, I reckon I’m fighting a losing battle.

As I flick through veggie cookbooks and online recipes, my eyes (and stomach) are always drawn to those containing halloumi, goats’ cheese, parmesan, pastry and the like. Lentils and pulses simply don’t cut it. I’m already finding solace in the leftover-Xmas-chocolate Tupperware.

I reckon the biggest challenge for me will be eating out. One of my all-time favourite pastimes is menu perusal and it’ll be a sad and sorry day when I only have one option to choose from (most likely a variation on a goats’ cheese/ caramelised onion/ sundried tomato tarte, if I’m not mistaken). Pastry washed down with sparkling water – lucky, lucky me! I’m also throwing something of a dinner party in couple of weeks and whilst I don’t plan to subject my guests to my vegetarian whims, I fully expect myself to be sitting sulking in a corner, meat-envy mounting.  But then I only have myself to blame, and I just have to focus how smug and virtuous I will feel at the end of the month (or fat and cheese-logged as the reality may well prove to be).

Back now to my recent, faintly clumsy attempts at the art of vegetarian cooking… My evening meal of beetroot gnocchi with homemade chilli pesto was no more of a satisfying success story than my recent breakfast banquet. For starters, despite the appealing-looking purple hue that graced the plate in the cookbook illustration, my gnocchi were more  salmon-pink in colour.  Quite possibly I used the wrong beetroot variety, most probably their photographer used a sneaky filter. Now, whilst a lovely fresh fillet of salmon is an ideal accompaniment to homemade pesto, bland and stodgy gnocchi sadly is not. In an attempt to make the meal more palatable I added copious quantities of parmesan and double the recommended amount of pesto.  Still bland, and still unappetisingly pink:

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My next foray into the unknown depths of vegetarian cooking was marginally more successful (I promise to stop wittering on about veggie cooking experimentation in the very near future). I adapted a recipe for a peppered mushroom and stilton pie (i.e. stirred in some extra stilton, some crème fraiche, and added a liberal sprinkling – read: a good half block – of parmesan to the top). It was tasty, it was satisfying, it was vegetarian.  It would have benefitted no end from the addition of a few nice big chunks of Aberdeen Angus (but then that pretty much sums up vegetarian cookery for me….).

I have a feeling it is going to be a looong month. In the spirit of a new year and new beginnings (and because its traditional and also because I’ve nothing better to do as I have sworn off the pub for the month), I shall finish with a few New Year’s Resolutions:

1. To never again drink a Jägerbomb. (Easiest resolution I ever did make!)

2. To try really, really hard not to roll my eyes the next time utters the words “I’m a vegetarian but I eat fish”. (Being a real life, actual, bone fide, genuine vegetarian is really, really difficult – and I should know, I’m on day 5…)

3. Not to trust the accuracy of any image I see in a cookbook.

4. Never again to send a drunken email of complaint to any organisation at all (unless absolutely necessary and urgent).

5. To finally write a blog about grammar-related grievances.

6. Not to set myself unattainable goals. (Big fat tick against that one right there!)

7. To try my utmost not to let it rile me when people insist on playing by their own (quite frankly WRONG) Scrabble rules.

 

I’m making no promises on that last one, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it- I’ve got beans to soak!

 

 

 

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