Sometimes I make an effort for breakfast, when the morning is half-gone and easing towards noon, when obligations can wait (or more accurately, are being ignored) and the apartment is still. When there’s food to use up, when it takes me an hour for my brain to emerge from foggy, dead, dream-saturated slumber, to chisel myself out of bed.
While the water is boiling I stretch. A few salutations to the sun, a sad excuse for a bit of exercise – though yesterday afternoon was spent walking for hours and hours in the drizzle through the West End – but it wakes me up a little more. I halve 7 cloves of garlic and remove the shoots inside with the tip of my knife. Three and a half slices of partially dried-up bacon: too much for one person, and especially for breakfast, but it’s been waiting in the fridge for over a week. Slice and sizzle, fat turning translucent and shimmying around in a browning pool of grease. More time to stretch and slice a shallot, which according to Sainsbury’s should have been used up 22 days ago. No matter, it’s perfectly edible.
No more rice in the cupboard, but a ridiculous supply of noodles: 15 packets of green tea soba, uneaten for months. Whole-wheat pasta, mi sua, half a packet of squid ink pasta (a gift from last September), vermicelli noodles, Penang prawn mee instant noodles. How did all this get here? Nothing for it but to eat. I’ve rifled the internet for a template. Garlic and shallots frying in bacon fat – and more olive oil – with a pinch of chilli flakes for heat. Completely unnoticeable. Deglaze with white wine, throw in slow-roasted cherry tomatoes from the fridge. Toss in pasta.
Excessively – that’s how I eat, not how I live. Lots of garlic, too much bacon, too much olive oil, flavours clamouring for attention in the pan. A spoon of chilli garlic sauce, several twists of black pepper. Before I know it all that’s left is a slick of chilli oil. I’m full and yet, somehow, a little empty. London skies are white-grey today, as it will be the rest of this week, forecasting rain with a chance of tears. Onward to class, towards summer. It’s been exactly one month since he left.