Everything moves slowly. The air is hot, the sand underfoot is hot, the sun is too strong in the sky to move anywhere too fast. I can’t work out if it’s because I’m a tourist in a designated place of leisure, or if the pace of life there generally has a more laid-back quality to it. It’s easy to see why I’m not stressed, lying on a hammock under the coconut palms and swaying gently in the sea breeze. But the way the waiters laugh as they effortlessly hack open coconuts with machetes, or the steel pan players dance to their own rhythms in the midday heat, makes every movement and moment of life look fun and carefree. And yet so many I spoke to work multiple jobs and incredibly long hours. I think about what it is that makes life look easy when it isn’t, then get tired of thinking and order another rum cocktail. View Full Post

There’s really no wrong moment for pizza.

Feeding a crowd? Pizza.

3am essay crisis? Pizza.

Night in? Pizza.

Night out? Pizza.

I even watched a documentary about the history of pizza once (I have to make use of my degree somehow), although it wasn’t very informative because turns out its origins are pretty contested. Might have been the 18th century, might have been the 19th century, might have been the Ancient Greeks (no, seriously). But it really went mainstream with the influx of Italian immigrants to the US in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, and took off in this country in the 1940s as ‘Italian rarebit’. We’ve never looked back. View Full Post

Do you ever find that certain smells and tastes evoke certain memories? This can work in both a positive and negative way, of course, but let’s focus on the positive. Lavender oil on my pillow at night, for example, makes me think of hot summer days in general – the picnic-on-the-lawn days when you sleep with all the windows open – but more specifically the day we visited the lavender farm last July. It evokes memories of strolling among the fragrant flowers in shorts and t-shirt before gorging ourselves on thickly buttered lavender scones and softly crumbling lavender shortbread, washed down with fresh lavender tea, consumed on wooden benches outdoors whilst swatting away wasps. Piña coladas make me think of sandy feet, rooftop bars, and being eighteen. Spices like cinnamon and ginger are cosy jumpers, warm fires, falling leaves and Christmas lights. G&Ts will always remind me of Oxford: croquet on warm evenings, and tall men in tuxedos. View Full Post

Basic Tomato Sauce | magpieandmaple.com

One of the joys of being at Oxford is the number of pretentious conversations that one is party to — usually in no less pretentious settings. About three courses into a five-course black-tie dinner I attended some time last year, discussion turned to the modern employment of  the term “basic”. Usually I spend most of my energy trying not to spill red wine or port down my fancy dress (I almost always fail) or calculate how much camembert I can justifiably take from the cheese board relative to the number of people around me, but on this occasion something caught my attention. The more cultured of my dining companions had noticed that Shakespeare used the term ‘base’ in a similarly derogatory way as the modern youth use ‘basic’ — a fact that, they hastened to agree, had probably gone unnoticed by most of the population (guilty as charged).

View Full Post