* I wanted to entitle this blog Plagues of Locusts but thought that might be a little…off. And although what we are facing globally at the moment does feel, well, biblical my Covid 19 PC alarm went off…Voracious Hoards it is…
**This blog is shamelessly middle class. It is intended as a light hearted read. And in no way detracts from the very real hardships that I know are faced by many, many people at the moment.
So here I sit on Day, actually I do not know what day, of lockdown; pondering. All the days currently merge into one. It is a bit like that time between Christmas and New Year but not as fun and with less twinkly lights. It is especially difficult to tell what day it is as my husband has not stopped working 12 hour plus days for about 3 weeks. Yes he is an essential worker. But you won’t be clapping for him on Thursdays because he is (whispers) a banker and so will probably at some point be blamed for the pandemic. So far it is bats, pangolins, the entirety of China. I am sure banks, some of whom are mostly owned by the tax payer (every article you read about banks says that…journalists have it on auto type…they click their £ symbol to type it automatically), will finally be found to blame. As he has hardly left our spare room for 3 weeks (once I had assembled the hastily ordered desk and chair and removed the double bed which now sits on our drive way in pieces, unsold due to lockdown, making us look like weirdos to the not inconsiderable number of people now walking by daily) the days are bleeding into each other. I actually do know it is Friday today because it is Good Friday. And therefore a bank holiday although this year it ain’t.
Anyway as I was saying we are on Day unknown of the lockdown. And mostly during these few weeks I have been focussed on food.
I own 2 teenage boys. Quite what I thought I was doing having 2 sons 18 months apart is beyond me now. And then I thought I would throw in a daughter too.
I can also tell you that teenage boys are basically eating machines. They open the fridge, inhale and £150 of food disappears.
In normal circumstances I can cope. School picks up a meal a day. They take snacks in that resemble complete packed lunches for break time. They eat a cooked meal at school (although the portions are apparently scandalous) . Then I do another cooked meal for tea and then they shovel cereal down until bed time.
When the food shortages hit and were coupled with the request to shop only infrequently I turned into a complete food control freak.
I can now hear the opening of a fridge from 3 rooms away. The rustle of a chocolate bar from the back garden. The clinking of milk bottle on cereal bowl from half way through my walk round the village. I can be heard shouting repeatedly,
“Please take some grapes off the bunch instead of standing at the fridge shovelling in a whole punnet almost absent mindedly”.
“Let that meal register before you eat anything else”.
“What happened to the 18 chocolate bars I bought yesterday?”
“How can you be hungry again.”
“Put your hands up and back away from the biscuit tin, slowly…I said slowly…no sudden moves”
Etc, etc, etc.
I now pack up the snacks they would have taken to school and ban all other snacks from being consumed. In case you think this is unfair Eldest has the following ‘snack’ daily at break time:
Apple, banana, 4 mini sausage rolls, bag of crisps, dried apricots, chocolate bar…I eat less for a pack up.
Yesterday for breakfast he ate; a fried egg and slice of toast, a huge bowl full of fruit with yogurt, a bowl of porridge and a bowl of granola.
He was back in the snack bag in an hour.
I currently spend my life planning, queuing, shopping, cooking and clearing up food. Making other food out of any food leftovers (and here I mean carcasses and bones not actual food). Scouring recipe books for new ideas. Stopping people eating the wrong food on the wrong day. Carrying out fridge patrol. Cooking meals from scratch twice a day which linger on plates for around 5 minutes (except the butter nut squash and quinoa chilli that lingered on plates a lot longer…). Trying to find eggs. Trying to find flour. Trying to find flour and eggs together.
And to make matters worse I detest cooking. I know a lot of you out there are relishing the time to experiment in the kitchen whipping up all sorts of gourmet meals. I am not. Cooking is more of a large scale and unwelcome logistical exercise here. No fun is had I can tell you.
I do like to bake and had vague ideas of working my way through the Mary Berry book I got at Christmas. But I refer you to my earlier comment viz lack of flour. Or eggs. Or both.
To start with I couldn’t even buy my normal weekly food shop due to restrictions. I buy 4 packs of 6 yogurts a week to last a few days. Every time we have beans on toast for lunch we use 4 cans. I am not stock piling buying these amounts of food. But I was not allowed to buy such vast quantities.
Now with restrictions mostly lifted I struggle to physicslly wheel such amounts round the supermarket. I no longer shop on line saving those slots for self isolaters and the vulnerable. I cannot shop weekly, dear government, as I literally cannot fit the amount of food in a trolley or push it whilst maintaining a safe distance in the aisles. If only I could take a teenager to help. But I cant
My food bill has almost doubled. Luckily I am not paying for school meals and my husband is not spending his daily coffee, porridge & sandwich money at London prices so we are probably no worse off.
So if you want to know why supermarket supply cannot keep up with demand that will be all the teenage boys at home eating their way through the stock.
And I really really want to know where all that food that should have gone to schools and works canteens and hotels and bars and restaurants has gone? I don’t care if the beans are in 2kg tins. That would do around one meal here. Send a few dozen my way. Please.