Saturday, March 3

Hodgepodge in Epsom

It’s been more months than I like to count.

And a long time ago, before I lived in Paris and wrote in this space, I made an eggplant ragout with more things than you would realize. There was red wine and tomato chutney, thyme and basil, white wine vinegar and caramelized onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes and lastly, lemon and sultanas.

Then I moved house...

... and I heard this: “I’m happy with hodgepodge.”

And I was so relieved to hear that statement.

I took out my hand written recipe book. And from somewhere way before Jamie Oliver’s paprika, raisin and lamb shank amalgamation, and hidden between the traditional Italian Carbonara I learnt to make in Paris and the Vietnamese spring rolls I have recently embraced, I pulled out my old faithful eggplant medley.

We cooked soba noodles, and stirred cumin through homemade Greek yoghurt (yes this is the place I have moved into; where yoghurt is on tap and muesli is made every Sunday fortnight). We turned all the lights off, lit all the candles and opened a bottle of wine for our first flat dinner, two months after living together.

But then this morning I was taken back to my life in Hemmingway’s favourite city. I heard from a dear friend who tells me that Paris is missing the girl in the red coat, the one who wondered along the streets in autumn.

It’s strange really, not being there with you. The streets here aren’t nearly as grey and peculiar, and the language is far less beautiful. Everyone sounds unfamiliar and outspoken, and I can’t meet with you at Bread and Roses near the Luxembourg Gardens. But there is a mountain covered with sheep not far from my doorstep, creamy coffee bought from smiley baristas just three doors down, and a table filled with two wonderful women to cook for.

And so what I’m saying is that the adjustment has not been a bad one. But that I’m also not done with you, you who fill those grey concrete streets scattered with cigarette butts and the crusts left over from stale baguettes.

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