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The House Sitting Diaries
Fancy living, edible glitter and impostor syndrome
Hello comrades: I have officially returned. Every summer, I religiously respect the Italian holiday period - despite not living in Italy and having already been on holiday this year - so I paused all writing endeavours in order to focus on my skincare routine and my increasingly demanding day job. I will not be taking any questions at this difficult time.
That being said – I took some time to plan content for the future of my weekly-ish newsletter. But let’s start by talking about what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. I have binge-watched Paris Hilton’s new cooking show, I’ve started exercising in the morning and spent 4 hours in A&E the other day. The three things should not be connected, but I can’t be sure.
The truth is, I have had quite a bit of ‘me time’ lately – my sweet friends Camilla and Ludo needed someone to water the plants in their Central London Jungle Flat (I have counted 18 house plants so far, but who knows really) and they kindly offered I move in for a month while they’re away on holiday. 30 days in a lovely, modern flat in the West End, located a twenty minute walk from my office and only five minutes away from the nearest TK Max? It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it.
I have lived the past few weeks as a sort of social experiment: a Hackney South reject spends four weeks in the life of a boujie bitch from the CG (Covent Garden) – a new Vice documentary. I mean, it wasn’t easy, you know. It took me a whole 23 minutes to adjust to this fancy lifestyle. It’s terrible, terrible I tell you!
Now let me tell you… Camilla is the creative mind behind the urban chic décor of this flat. We share the same excellent taste and a compulsion to swipe our credit cards. The main difference is that I like cheap trills and end up buying a lot of inexpensive shit that I inevitably dump in an Oxfam two months later. Cami, on the other hand, lives by the motto that less is more, but more expensive.
I’ve been drinking oat lattes from ceramic cups imported from California, burning sandalwood essential oil from Nepal while cooking hearty but health-conscious meal in an almond-coloured Le Creuset after sanitising my hands with Aesop’s bergamot soap with scrubbing crystals.
But the time is coming for me to go back to my cute, cosy, crafty East London flats - where blankets are repurposed as curtains, rugs are not statement pieces but an expedient devised to conceal the red wine stains left by the previous tenants and, I am ashamed to admit, cups are not imported from California but from the nearest Poundland.
Will I be able to readjust? I think so. But the past month has changed me forever – I look at my overdraft and can’t help but wonder… was I wrong to follow my passions? Should I just have become a venture capitalist who wears Paco Rabanne One Million and goes to Sushi Samba Liverpool Street to have dinner with his LinkedIn friends? I don’t know, man. I hate money but I love things, so the question remains: If capitalism is bad, why the heck does it feel so good?
Speaking of hospitals
Every time I have a difficult day ahead of me at work I try calm down by reminding myself that the consequences of a potential mistake are never going to be as tragic as my acutely paranoid brains expects them to be.
The main reason for that - quite simply - is that I do not work in a hospital. You may not know this but… I’m not a cardiac surgeon, my medical training is limited to WebDM.com and I’ve never had to perform keyhole surgery on a pair of prematurely-born twin toddlers.
My point being, I have just completed my first solo shift on the Westminster newsdesk this weekend – a prospect I deemed exciting and TERRIFYING in equal measure, mainly because the idea of me doing what I do now seemed like a remote prospect just a few months ago, something that only a competent, reliable grownup would be trusted to do, and therefore it never occurred to me I could be in this position now.
Sure, working in national television means that your mistakes are very visible. Believe me, I am reminded of that every day when I open my twitter and I see people along the likes of @EssexFella12356 pointing out every minor inaccuracy in the work we do.
I am lucky to operate in a compassionate work environment, however, surrounded by some truly outstanding (and talented) individuals who do not feel the need to foster an atmosphere of terror in order to enhance productivity. Those around me know better than to make a stressful situation even more stressful. This allows me to work well.
My job mainly consists of breaking news (not breaking hearts, as most of you undoubtedly suspect, wink wink). It’s unpredictable and intense and it can go terribly wrong. It was something I said I’d never do, but then again I also said I’d never wear flipflops with socks in public. Plans change, people change.
I mostly know what I’m doing, I’ve studied hard and worked even harder to get to where I am, and I like to think I can execute these tasks to a decent standard, which is all I can aspire to at this stage of my career. Impostor syndrome is a bitch - but then again so am I.
WHAT I ATE
Grilled Aubergine and Goat Cheese Shakshuka by Moi
I bought a book about Middle Eastern cuisine the other day (more on that later) and spent the whole afternoon reading it. By the end of it I was so exhausted and overwhelmed with options that I simply did not have the energy to venture in the realm of a style of cooking which is entirely foreign to me. So I stuck with what I knew – I made “Uova in Purgatorio” (Eggs in Purgatory) AKA Shakshuka: eggs poached in tomato sauce. To that I added a non-committal middle eastern twist: grilled aubergines and fresh goat cheese. Include a slice of toasted sourdough bread and you’ve got yourself an example of comfort food at its finest. Here’s the recipe for two hungry people.
1) Slice one aubergine and grill the slices on a very hot pan. About two minutes each side, until they’re golden and beautiful. Seasons with salt and pepper, cut each round in four and reserve.
2) Get started on the sauce. Chop a small onion and fry in a medium pan with a little extra virgin olive oil. Once softened and translucent, add 500ml tomato passata. Season with salt, pepper and whatever dried herbs you’ve got lying around.
3) Cover the pan and cook the sauce for about 20 minutes on a low flame, until the tomato has lost its acidity. Add the reserved aubergines. Break four eggs into the sauce and poach them – once the egg white has gone from transparent to white and the yolk is still wobbly and glossy, transfer the eggs, swimming in sauce, in a serving bowl.
4) Top up with crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley and serve with some toasted bread. I also added some crispy pancetta cubes to mine - because it’s my dinner and I’ll do however I please. Enjoy!
Hot Stone Steak
Steak & Co is a steakhouse with four different branches in Central London. I visited the Covent Garden restaurant on a Sunday afternoon. See, I am going through one of my red meat phases – meaning I wake up every morning trying to resist the urge to bite into a whole live cow. This restaurant was the next best (legal, ethical) thing.
I ordered a ribeye steak with sea salt flakes, truffle butter and peppercorn sauce – with a side of French fries and creamed spinach. Here’s how it works: the chef ensures the steak kissed the pan on both sides to get it nice and seared – but it’s served very rare, on a hot stone where the customers can cook it in the way their heart demands.
It looks impressive and it tastes lovely but let’s face it, a massive smoking hot brick is a safety hazard and frankly quite stressful. You need to move fast if you don’t want to end up eating cremated beef. It’s a Sunday afternoon and I’m not trying to end up to the hospital (again!). I didn’t act quite swiftly enough so my steak ended up being well done (which is how I like it) - but the standout star, for me, was the darn truffle butter. Sweet Jesus, I just want to spread it all over me and walk around town smelling like expensive mushroom. Stop me if you can.
WHAT I WATCHED
Cooking With Paris
Paris Hilton’s new cooking show (yes, you read that right) – it’s everything I didn’t know I needed. Follow the wealthy heiress in her culinary journey as she attempts some Parisized recipes (lots of pink, glitter and sparkles). Some of the standouts dishes are: unicornoli, glittered turkey, funfetti flan cake and vegan McDonalds fries. She is joined by some of her celebrity friends (including Kim K) as they cook and reminisce on their wild partying days. Paris always wears lace gloves while cooking, god knows why, has no idea what a whisk is and sprinkles edible gold on onion rings. It is simply impossible not to love her.
I haven’t watched the first one, but the movie makes little sense anyway so I doubt having some more context would have helped my understanding of it. It’s definitely a cinema movie - and it provides the right dose of silly entertainment. I personally thought Birds of Prey (vilified by movie critics) was better but then again, what do I know. Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, in the meantime, is the gift that keeps on giving.
WHAT I LISTENED TO
Solar Power by Lorde (Album)
After listening to the first two releases, I had to admit to myself that this album may just not be doing it for me, after all. Now I’ve heard the whole thing: admittedly no bangers, but after the second listen I think we’re finally getting somewhere. I may love it.
WHAT I READ
More than A Woman by Caitlin Moran
A description of late womanhood that serves as a sequel to her bestseller ‘How To Be a Woman’. I’m not the target demographic, clearly, but I always end up thoroughly enjoying her writing - and I’m a big fan of her column in the Times magazine. She may at times overestimate her relatability, but the book remains a fun, joke-packed, insightful read. Feel free to borrow it!