This may be an unusual statement but, I, for one, freaking love winter.
As a foodie this declaration has even less grounding. Your favourite time of year is when there is no fresh produce, everything is unripe, firm and flavourless, and you don’t even want to shuffle into the kitchen because it’s too cold to leave the safety of your duvet, you may ask?
Yes. Yes it is.
This is because, I defend myself, I love the sensation of being cold and knowing I can make myself warm. Whether snuggling down with a blanket, an enormous cup of tea and a cuddle from someone cosy [enter said person here], there’s a kind of smug satisfaction that you deserve it.
‘Let’s not do the washing up right now, it’s too cold.’
‘Shall we watch something on Netflix? Let’s snuggle on the sofa!’
Or just to myself, ‘I’ve nowhere I need to be, I’ll stay in bed for another half an hour.’
But on the other side of the foodie coin, winter is deliciously rewarding. All food is hearty, stodgy, filling, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be cradling a food baby every time you excuse yourself from the table – there’s no swimwear you need to squeeze yourself into, only another jumper and some pyjama bottoms.
I just love stodge. Call me British but I can’t get enough of it. I curse the day of the summer equinox as it means a whole summer to get through before I can eat more bread and butter pudding, crumbles, steamed sponge, pies, suet, Yorkshire puddings – anything made with a lump o’ lard basically.
Just picture it – a brisk and frosty country walk followed by a steamy pub, a pint and a pie, oozing with hunks of beef in ale gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, and buttery carrots. Or, it’s dark outside and inside it’s warm and the fire is flickering, you have a mug full to the brim of piping hot chocolate, topped with gooey marshmallows, and you slowly sip as you watch an episode of Game of Thrones. These images alone are more endearing to me than a playpen of puppies (…only just though, I’m not heartless).
Furthermore, in defence of winter, the UK has a lot of fruit and vegetables in season throughout the year. We just need to embrace these wintery wonders – forget the flirtatious strawberries and tomatoes from the summer season, bring on the ruby red winter cabbage, lumpy celeriac (looking as though it stepped out of Harry Potter), crisp apples and pears, and sweet and juicy clementines. This is all food we greedily gobble every winter (with only accidental reference to the old bird we also enjoy in the process) with little acknowledgement. Next time, pick up a turnip or a simple swede and make a gratin – thinly slivered pieces of root vegetable, layered in a baking dish, covered with herb and garlic infused cream and scattered with cheese. Don’t scrimp on the cream now – it’s winter, you deserve it.