As nobody, and I mean nobody at all, has given me any flowers for Valentine’s Day, I had to present myself with something a little more soothing than some tulips (it’s quite pathetic to buy red roses for oneself, isn’t it?) and so I went for some cheesecake, the most soothing cake there is. Sooth and smooth. Nonetheless, I added a little more vanilla than usual, just to make sure of it. Vanilla has quite soothing effects on my mind, too. The cheesecake turned out fine. Quite yummy. Very soothing, indeed. Almost mind-numbingly soothing. You see, I really have totally forgotten all about these flowers I didn’t get today. Today, not just any day, no, on Valentine’s Day! I need more cheesecake. Now!
I’ve read somewhere that the fewer ingredients food has, the better. The healthier, too. Nothing could be less healthy than the overprocessed stuff supermarkets sell in these shiny, poorly designed, ever so colourful boxes, one might think. Reflecting on this, I was asking myself what I could possibly have for lunch that consisted of not more than one or maybe two things. Hmpf. I gave up immediately and made my notoriously famous risotto. It’s really yummy. And truth be told, I am still convinced that my risotto is not only yummy, but also quite healthy despite the fact it has way more than two ingredients in it. There’s rice in it, obviously. And then there’s chicken broth, broccoli, graped parmigiano reggiano, salt, white and black pepper, white wine, Italian Chardonnay, to be quite precise, butter, and olive oil. That’s an awful lot of stuff, isn’t it? Still healthy, though. I think it’s not the number but the quality and origin of the stuff one puts together for a meal. So, don’t you listen to what you learn on the internet! In order to stay healthy, just follow my advice: eat more risotto!
There’s nothing really new to tell about coffee, is there? We’re all accustomed to having it to go when shopping, on the run from deadlines at the office, and at the break of day at home with our eyes semi-closed. Wherever we like to get in touch with some peace, calm and quiet on our own or some invigorating moments with friends, it has to be (and always is) fresh ground coffee, made from fancy organic beans from one of those high-toned plantations in Java, Brazil or Costa Rica. Nothing to write home about anymore. But what did come as a surprise, at least to me, is the way they adorn that milky foam nowadays. Today, with our cakes, mine was ananas cake and quite yummy, we had an onion (why would somebody want to put an onion on one’s coffee, I ask you), followed by something that looked some strange creature from outer space, then an example of ungifted action painting, and finally some botany: a glorified sprouting crocus. At least that was my interpretation. I do miss those hearts, quite boring, but at least one could tell oneself it was another barista’s déclaration d’amour.
You wake up, not because you wake up but because the alarm goes on, you get up and out of bed and realize it’s raining again, it’s cold, too, you can’t find your favourite sweater, the mirror tells you you look tired, you resent that although it’s true, you can’t even keep your eyes open, you try to do push-ups nonetheless, stop at 1.5 and after that you’re just about to reconsider getting up at all. But then there’s the smell of freshly ground coffee and, even more intriguing, the smell of croissants fresh from the bakery. You dodder into the kitchen and find a nice breakfast served on your favourite china, the one with your best friends on it. You sit down, eat and smile. Life’s good, even at 7:30 AM.
It’s been just another grey winter’s day in Berlin, quite depressing. The moment, I woke up, I knew I needed something to cheer me up big time if I wanted this Monday to be a day worth living. That’s when I started thinking of tart. A very special tart, actually. A tart, I couldn’t bake myself. A tart, I had to get out of bed and run into town to get some at the KaDeWe, short for Kaufhaus des Westens, Berlin’s high-toned department store whose food halls took in some French people answering to the name of Lenôtre, the very people that own that very tart’s recipe. A tart so yummy, I would not dare to wash it down with milk or tea or coffee, not even champagne, just to make the aromas linger forever on my tongue. A dough rich of pistaccios and cherries to make it irresistible, some vanilla custard to make it creamy, a crumble topping to make it crunchy, and some maraschino cherries and powdered sugar on top to make it look fancy. This was the very tart that got me through the day. I’m still high on serotonine, so I guess, it’ll get me through the rest of the week as well…
Some time ago, when going through my secretary’s drawers, looking for some stuff for my tax declaration, I found an old wallet of mine, made of Louis Vuitton’s nice Épi leather, in a yummy chocolate brown, I instantly had to eat some, luckily I always have some bars at home, but that’s not the interesting part of my find. Inside the empty wallet was a single note, issued in February 1962 in the Congo, shortly after it had become independent, after the Belgians had lost their colony, and many, many a year before Hergé’s comic book “Tintin au Congo” had become ever so politically incorrect. A friend of my mother’s gave the Congolese note to me after giving account of her African adventures when I once visited her in Munich. She had spent some time in the young country in the early sixties, and during dinner she had all these funny anecdotes to tell, all of them much to her husband’s disapproval, who was sitting next to her when she talked about her African years but wasn’t part of any of the stories, she had only met him many years later. Males must feel important. Anyway, I remember most vividly the one about her arrival: picture a very young woman, very stylish, very vain, very concerned about her looks, having left Europe in mid-winter, in a top notch red bouclé wool ensemble with matching coat, made of the same red bouclé wool that one, too, and finding herself all of sudden in the tropical heat of Leopoldville, on a gangway and an airfield ever so close to the equator, lost even more in perspiration than in translation. You have to dress destination appropriately when you travel, she told me with great gravity when she handed me that note as constant reminder of her wisdom. I wouldn’t know. You see, I’ve never been to the Congo.
If you want to gain weight, for whatever reasons, do the following: buy eight to twelve large packages of assorted chocolates, pick your favourites from each package, arrange them casually in a bowl (you want to refill the bowl with chocolates as soon as it’s emptied) and start devouring them during at least four episodes of any show interesting enough to make you stay put in front of the TV no matter what happens or who’s at the door. I do recommend Killing Eve for such purposes, watching people kill other people always gives me an appetite. With that show (season 1 and 2), you have Sandra Oh (oh so gorgeous) and Jodie Comer (she’s gorgeous, too) in sixteen thrilling episodes, offering the most fattening effect. Do not forget to wash each chocolate down with a generous helping of caffè latte with non-skimmed milk in it, or a huge glass of Baileys, or, (or “and/or”, why not), some protein-infused banana milkshake. Repeat. Bon appétit and bonne chance!