One day back in early 2017, I turned up to work late, sleepless, an incoherent babbling wreck chewed up by an 18-month landmark court trial and with bright copper dye fading from my wiry, tousled mania of hair. I left my walking stick in the lobby and limped in to work ... to find a hand thrust towards me in a polite gesture of welcome, a smile, a curt hello. She introduced herself. I apologised seven times for my lateness and my pulled-from-a-car-wreck appearance. She was firm and professional, and she smiled at me again. And I felt that self-same car wreck collide with my solar plexus and toss me down a rabbit hole of giddy head-spinning highs and that soaring, almost nauseatingly disorienting feeling of time stopping and slowing and turning on its head. I stumbled away, a new crush ablaze across my cheeks and in every tip of my fingers, burning coiled springs in the soles of my feet, a song whispering in the cold, grey, slumbering chamber of my strange little heart. And then I went home and did what any self-respecting twenty-first-century romantic heroine would do; I followed her on Twitter.
Fast-forward a few weeks and, having established that my paramour was mutually curious, I found myself standing frozen in my kitchen, petrified, with a wooden spoon in my hand, wondering what to cook for her imminent arrival. I settled on this, and it has become synonymous, to me, with falling in love. It is not flashy, nor expensive; no grand gestures required. It requires a little patience, but very simple ingredients. It is homely, comforting, nourishing, the culinary equivalent of a soft warm body wrapped around your own. It delights, it satisfies, both firm and tender, messy and irreverent, hot and saline and sticky and sweet, and so much more than the sum of its parts.
It took her a month to pluck up the courage to tell me she doesn’t like pasta, but I love her regardless.
© Jack Monroe, 2019. Images:© Patriciat Niven, 2019.