All of a sudden it’s cool to be thrifty. I grew up with this notion, but it was never what you call sexy. I can’t tell you how glad it makes me to read Nigella’s comments about waste in her book ‘Cook, Eat, Repeat’. Despite her luxurious and (many times repeated) unapologetic delight in food, she cannot bear to throw things out. Sometimes you read this and you think, yeah, yeah, here’s somebody who has never wanted for anything in all his/her life. But the detail Nigella offered, the one that persuaded me beyond doubt, was the thing about butter papers.
Even buying a block of butter wrapped in paper is an adventure nowadays, since it all comes handily spreadable in a tub. And much of the paper on blocks of butter is of course a lining for a foil wrapper. Back in the sixties I remember there was always a pile of neatly folded butter wrappers sitting around the kitchen somewhere (we didn’t have a fridge till I was fourteen). Then whenever there were scones or buns or a cake to be made, the butter papers would be used to grease the tins. Simple! And Nigella still does it! Or at least she says she does, and why would I disbelieve her? It’s not the kind of detail you would know about unless you’d lived it. Thank you, Nigella.
There’s a risk of sounding smug when you say things like ‘waste not, want not’. The personal is also political of course, and I’m patiently waiting (and voting) for governments to find a way of addressing poverty. But nevertheless, you have to do your best with what you’ve got and I applaud all those food writers – the truly famous ones like Nigella and Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver – who enthusiastically publicise sensible ways of making ends meet. They’re our role models after all. And I honour all the hard-working, hard-up parents (mainly but not exclusively women, in my era at least) who taught us what we need to know about survival and satisfaction. Here’s to a day when we can all eat well. Cheers.