Confession: I’m in Scotland. I’ve been here for just over two weeks now and, in true first year style, I’ve managed to avoid most cooking related activities. By that, I mean that I’ve bought dinner, been cooked for and generally tried to stay as far away from the kitchen as possible. I don’t really want to destroy someone else’s oven, or work surface, or house, so generally I’ve played it ‘safe’ and stayed well away.
Although this has been nice, and made me vaguely nostalgic for the first few weeks of first year, it has meant that coming up with a topic for a column has been a bit more of a struggle than usual. Until today. It started off slowly; I trudged into work and made it through the first half of my shift in something of a stupor. I was counting down the minutes until lunch, wondering absent-mindedly whether the constant, constant rain meant that I could buy food from a cafe relatively guilt free, when lunch was brought to me. Literally brought to me, on a plate.
Fridays, apparently, are Falafel day. Now, this posed something of a problem. Not a big problem and not one that couldn’t be overcome by the offer of free food, but a problem nonetheless; at some stage in my life I had decided that I didn’t like falafel, that I didn’t want to try it and that I’d really rather not eat it. Ever. I’d expressed this view – quietly and politely – the week before, when the idea of Falafel Friday was just an idea and no one had pledged any sort of allegiance or conversion to the wrap which I was now presented with. And yet, here we were.
There was only one choice, obviously. It was free food, the entire office was involved and bitter experience has taught me that there is no worse feeling than someone refusing to eat your cooking, no matter what the reason. So I tried it – perhaps a second worse feeling because of the level of expectation and tension involved – and inevitably, it was great. Everything about it was great.
Although I ended lunch on a post-falafel high, I did spend the afternoon wondering. What really struck me wasn’t the food itself – I refuse to write an entire article solely singing the praises of falafel – but the atmosphere it created. Sad as it may sound, it brought the office together, gave us something to look forward to and meant that we actually spoke to each other throughout our lunch break. While perhaps not the most Scottish experience – I still need to try Haggis, after all – Falafel Fridays are definitely going to become a highlight in my work week.