hunger is a good discipline
said Hemingway in A Moveable Feast.
i was contemplating his words one agonising weekend when my fridge was quite bare and the pantry more so. i hadn't the heart to step out of my woolly dressing gown and equally woolly uggs and go down to the shops. home delivery was too dire an option. it was one of those cold gray days where only a hot water bottle was any good in helping to stay warm. i looped between my living room, bedroom and kitchen in an endless parade of i'm hungry and i want something tasty, comforting, yummy, delicious. i hated days like this.
this wasn't discipline. this was torture.
i sighed at the baguette wrapped in its cellophane cover, stiff from the cold. i looked in the fridge (again). eggs, butter and milk stared back at me. an idea began to take shape in my head. did i have brown sugar? yes, those lovely crystallised granules. nutmeg? i rummaged around on my shelf till i found the precious bottle that held whole nutmegs which dad had given me. raisins? there wasn't even a hint that raisins had ever even been in my kitchen. i leaned against the counter discontentedly. oh wait, didn't i have a packet of dates in the fridge? not just any supermarket, shrink-wrapped dates, but royal family farm, black, sticky dates, which had been given to me as a special present. well now! we could begin in ernest!
an hour later, my mittened hands pulled the most scrumptious golden bread and butter pudding out of the oven. the baguette had soaked up the milky-eggy-buttery goodness, turning into soft pillows while the hard crust became crispy and chewy. the dates had expanded and caramalised, the brown sugar had retained its crunch and the freshly ground nutmeg punctuated the pudding with style.
while still piping hot i dug in with a fork, relishing the simplicity and complexity of such a marvellous dish. and as i took another forkful, i thought,