Comfort and joy – it’s definitely something we don’t just need at Christmas time. Here’s some things that have brought a smile to my face this year.
Well, here we are, staring down the barrel of the end of another year, and for many it’s been another crap one. I’ve certainly had a few extra hairy curve-balls thrown my way personally, and I know I’m not alone in that.
In the light of that, I just wanted to share a few things, not necessarily food-based, that have made me smile and/or bought pleasure, comfort and joy to me in 2021. I know I don’t often share personal things here, but we’ve known each other for so long now, I thought you might be interested in things that float my boat.
In no particular order, here goes –
In March I established the Lambs’ Ears Cookbook Club, which I believe to be the only online Australian-based cookbook club. I adore good cookbooks, and I know many of you do too, so it’s been fun to explore both new ones and older ones on our shelves and on our wishlists. Together we’ve taken a deeper dive into them, often discovering new favourites. Join us – it’s a great way to get more joy out of your cookbooks.
Still on the theme of books, I always find reading to be a great source of comfort and joy. I read a lot – usually about a book a week, interspersing serious literature and literary non-fiction with well-written mysteries (which are a total weakness of mine).
It’s hard to pick a favourite out of all I’ve read in the last 12 months, but Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” is absolutely right up there. Published in 2018 it is a work of literary fiction, but Powers’ extensive research into trees, their general history and secret lives, is utterly gob-smacking. This book filled my heart and, while I don’t often re-read a book (life is too short, my to-be-read stack is too tall), if I was going to it would definitely be this one. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Another source of comfort and joy to me, and food for my brain, are podcasts. I spend a fair amount of time in the car, so they keep me company, keep me informed and keep me entertained. My favourites are book review podcasts like the New York Times The Book Review, the ABC’s The Book Shelf and The Book Show, food programs such as the BBC’s The Food Program and The Food Chain, and the very wonderful Chat 10 Looks 3 from Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales.
However, my absolute favourite podcasts this year have been those based on the trial of (alleged) scammer extraordinaire Elizabeth Holmes, of Theranos, in the US. She sourced billions of dollars from investors before her house of cards came crashing down, and her thrillingly shocking trial has been reported in detail by not one but two, excellent podcasts. Check out both The Dropout and Bad Blood: The Final Chapter for hours of vicarious listening pleasure.
Even after all these years of writing about food producers, I continue to find enormous joy and excitement in the people and the stories behind some pretty remarkable products. This year I discovered Adelaide-made Koi Knives, which still give me a frisson of pleasure every single time I take one in my hands, I got to know the inspiring stories behind Small World Bakery, Kin Seafood, and Those Barossa Girls, I began training as an olive oil judge, and got to watch one of the first olive oil pressings of the season at South Australia’s Rio Vista Olives, and I visited with Australian food icon Alla Wolf-Tasker at her regenerative farm in Daylesford.
A constant pleasure for me is my association with Mt Pleasant Farmers Market, where I am a member of the board, and comforting me at regular intervals all through the year has been my chocolate subscription with Bean Bar You. Once a month they deliver a personalised box of artisan chocolate bars right to my post office box. How bloody joyful is that?! 😀
And, of course, when things get tricky and times get just a little too interesting I take enormous comfort and joy from my family and friends – and my garden and chooks. Be kind to yourselves, folks – and to others. We’re not out of the woods yet.