What a difference a week makes. So far Leicester city centre has been reasonably calm and getting fresh food hasn’t been a problem, but panic buying is spreading so that might change. The current situation is not encouraging, and seems designed to promote panic, uncertainty, and anxiety.
Meanwhile there’s rightly a lot about the heroism of NHS staff which is fully deserved, but not quite as much celebration of people working in supermarkets. This was my job for a decade, I know how physically demanding it is, how badly paid, how little respect employees get, and how important for all our comfort and well being.
I don’t really know what to do at the moment. For now I have the luxury of being able to stay at home, my redundancy payment will see me through for a while yet, and I’m diabetic which makes me vulnerable to this virus. On the other hand I could probably walk into a job in Tesco round the corner for the next few months which would be a financial relief because once that redundancy has gone I have nothing and long term the job situation is looking - well who knows, but it’s hard to be optimistic.
The supermarkets are recruiting like mad, and as far as I can see the people who will take those jobs are either doing it because they want to help the rest of us get food on the table, or because they have no choice but to put themselves in a role that will make social distancing really hard. All for something close to minimum wage. I think this is a fairly big deal which deserves even more attention than it’s getting.
And now to ‘Sour’. Mark Diacono is a brilliant food writer - warm, engaging, interesting, and inspiring in equal measure. Reading ‘Sour’ has been a pleasure, never mind cooking from it. It’s another book that’s been great at expanding my idea of what I might want to cook and eat. It’s also got a lot of information about fermenting and pickling in it.
That’s a whole lot of help in how to make the best of the food you have and cut down on waste. It’s also the chance to master what would be a new kitchen skill for me (fermenting) which is something I can look forward too. Which I need right now in the interests of good mental health, and I assume there’s quite a lot of us in the same boat.
Perhaps even more than the practical elements of the book though is it’s tone. Reading it feels like having a friend in the room with you. It’s full of funny anecdotes about more or less everyday things and memories. Fiction is great to get lost in, but books like this are company in an entirely different, and very helpful, way.