Together, we’ve sailed through the cold, dark seas of June and July, battling the waves of wind and rain that buffeted us and blew us and made us miserable before unceremoniously dumping us here on the faintly sunny shores of August, where we now sit, staring around us idly and wondering what to have for dinner.
(Of course, it is still winter but I always feel that once the Ju- months are over, spring is just around the corner, along with flowers, warmth, romance, weeds springing up like triffids in the garden and the lawn growing three feet in a week.)
Thinking such muddled thoughts, I drove to the supermarket at half past six. It was dark and raining and the carpark was full of puddles reflecting neon lights. The supermarket was packed with jaded city workers hunting for their dinner after a day of exhausting powerpoint presentations. You can tell they are hunting for their dinner by the way they have no shopping list but cruise slowly along the meat department with a look that says: "I don't know what to have for dinner so I'll just walk along here very slowly until something leaps out at me. And that's what I'll have." Often, they'll pick up a tray of meat and gaze at it, as if waiting for it to speak to them, maybe tell them how to cook it. When it doesn't, they put it back, sadly. Then they pick something else up: maybe a porterhouse or a rack of lamb or a veal schnitzel or a mini leg roast. Sometimes, they'll even prod it. Why? I don't know. Perhaps they are channelling their cavemen antecedents who prodded the woolly mammoth to see if it was dead yet. People prod bread, too. They never prod jars of jam or cans of tuna, only soft, vulnerable things like meat and bread and cakes. After a while, they go back and take the first thing they prodded and walk off to the check-out breezily; having completed a successful dinner hunt, stopping along the way for a jar of instant sauce, an onion, a trashy magazine and a bar of chocolate.
I avoided the meat section because, quite frankly, I can't bear the thought that other people have been prodding my dinner. Instead, I went to the pasta section and picked up some Da Vinci fettucine and a jar of Carmelina artichokes marinated in oil with chilli. Dinner was easy. I cooked the pasta, warmed the artichokes in some of their chilli oil, drained the pasta, rolled it over with some nice grated parmigiano to coat and served it with the artichokes and some flecks of parsley over the top. Kind of a looking-forward-to-spring dinner.