Thursday, 31 January 2008

Slight Return

Where does one begin after such a lengthy period of sustained silence? My last post was written on June 3rd 2007, well over six months ago and that is a long time. I know that in the grand scheme of things it isn’t a long time – the lower Palaeolithic lasted approximately two million years, the Mesozoic Era spanned a whopping 186 million years. Even the gestation period of the hippopotamus is eight months so there may well be baby hippos conceived before I penned my last entry that are yet to enter the world – however, since I was just beginning to get into a stride, get the hang of this writing lark and start to compose some seriously regular culinary musings, six months is a long time.

I knew it would happen. There was simply no way I was ever going to find the motivation (or time, or desire for that matter) to work full time for ‘the man’ and continue to live the life of an out of work food writer. The creative muscle just wouldn’t have time to exercise and by June the muscle was fast wasting away. Which is a shame because I was at the start of quite an interesting culinary adventure. I’d just cooked pigs’ feet for the first time and was happily ready to move onwards to the head. I had grand plans to make my own salamis and air-dried hams, I’d planned out a vegetable patch for the back garden and growing timetable to yield fresh fruits and vegetables for the whole year. I’d bought a book on how to make your own cheese. My bread baking skills had even progressed from woeful to merely inadequate. And then it all stopped.

The cooking didn’t stop. Or, at least, not entirely. I still found the time to create and research and taste and improve and make notes and cook old favourites. What stopped was the meticulous recording of what was being cooked. The words that seemed to flow out freely in the wake of every successful and non-successful epicurean experiment just dried up and I kept kidding myself that it was just a temporary lull – that after a holiday I would happily type out five thousand words about the incredible food I enjoyed in Thailand or that a brief trip to the Smokehouse or butcher or fishmonger would not only inspire me to cook but also to write about it. Alas, no and now my memory fails in providing me with the requisite amount of information to recall all the things I’ve cooked since ‘Trotter Day’. The cause of this drought was not lack of desire per se, it was a lack of desire brought on my acute boredom of doing a job that I simply did not want to do, and after spending eight brain-numbing, mind-melting, eye-bleedingly dull hours sat in front of a computer screen the last thing one wants to do is spend further time staring at a VDU. Couple that with a jaded lack of motivation and fear that I’d ‘sold-out’ and I just could not bring myself to write about food and cooking and eating and all the things I loved. I almost felt as if I was an adulterer, like I was cheating on my passion, my life, with a cheap slut – one that I had no real desire or reason to spend any time with at all but doing so left me feeling too guilty to enable me to go back to what I loved without first knocking it on the head.

And so I did. I left my job. And here I am, ever-so-slightly unemployed but deliriously happy. And there is so, so much to tell you about. If only I had the time…

Comments, feedback, thoughts, ideas et cetera are all welcome.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

About the author

I’m Alex Rushmer, a freelance writer who specialises in food, cooking and all things edible.

In addition to creating the globally popular food blog Just Cook It where I document my culinary adventures, my writing has been featured in a range of publications including Waitrose Food Illustrated, the Financial Times, Home Farmer, Cambridgeshire Agenda and Portfolio Magazine.

Previously I’ve tackled challenges from molecular gastronomy to charcuterie and am available for commissions large and small. Click here to email me any enquiries, requests, comments or thoughts.

In 2010 I cooked my way to the final three of Masterchef, a competition to find the best amateur cook in the UK. I finished runner-up along with Tim Kinnaird losing out to the incredibly talented Dhruv Baker. During my time on the show I created a wide array of orginal and modern British dishes. My next challenges will involve writing a book and opening a restaurant. Best get cracking then...