January | 2023
Of the many ways to eat in January
We eased into January with one last tradition — galette des rois — and the exaltation from Christmas and New Year well spent with family and a rare reunion of very good, old friends. A conclusive experiment which showed that a sensationally busy period will leave us not entirely depleted, but completely energised.
Now all is quiet. January settles in. Yesterday the rain lashes frigidly, today I am blinded by the sun’s low rays through the window, enfolded by apricity.
And just as the weather pitches between sun and rain, so too do food cravings, oscillating variably between sensuous gratins and electrifying salads.
There is much focus on food in January. Memories of foods eaten in December, intentions for the New Year, foods to avoid, foods craved, foods to enliven, foods to comfort, … It is contradictory and it makes sense. The New Year invites impetus, we need just decide on the direction.
For me, foremost, January is indulgent. It is a good time to cook less and go out. It is a good time to stay in and cook more. It is certainly no time to stop drinking!
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TO MAKE AND COOK
Galette des rois, the last tether to Christmas, has become a month-long tradition in France. And while it is often most delicious to make one’s own, part of the fun is also to test and compare galettes from different local bakeries.
While gratin is welcome year round, deep winter calls for it most instinctually. The other day I made a version with cauliflower, kale, and leeks, which all happened to be in the fridge. It was a very good combination.
But salads are at least as much a part of January, when in the mood for a jolt, when the colour range explodes. Often it includes citrus. My contribution to our New Year’s feast was a Sicilian orange, fennel, and olive salad; I followed Rachel Roddy’s recipe. Another lunch favourite is this technicolour salad.
Of course, this is the time for Seville oranges. I still have a shelf heavily weighed by dozens of pots from years past, still, I don’t think I can resist the fastidious pleasure of making marmalade, again. In any case I will definitely be preparing vin d’orange for the spring. The last bottle was depleted, delectably, over Christmas.
THINGS TO READ AND WHERE TO EAT
My favourite restaurants in 2022, the places I want to return to in 2023. [N&Q]
I loved this story of a century old (!) LA restaurant. It captures the essence of hospitality not as an exercice in purist concepts, but, at its core, in giving people pleasure. [New York Times]
In my cocktail obsessed days of the mid-2000s, I drank a lot of French 75s. This article attempts to trace the patchy history and miriad iterations of a cocktail which, singularly, seems to have many, many versions. [FT]
A fascinating read about the revival of a material with surprising — and manifold — potential in terms of sustainability: cork. [BBC Future]
As we slink into the new year, may January be kind.