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The Food Rut

This is a piece I wrote many years ago to apply for an internship with a now defunct food blog, but I think it’s as relevant now as it was then. 

A friend recently asked me one of the most perplexing questions a person can be asked – which Sex and the City character are you? While there is definitely a lot in life that I don’t have figured out, this is one thing I know for sure. One of my myriad reasons for being a Miranda comes from a moment in which she is lamenting the monotony of her routine and in particular, the fact that she has been ordering the same chicken and broccoli stir-fry for so long that the woman who takes her order has started laughing at her.  ‘Am I in a rut?’ she asks. ‘A food rut?’ Carrie replies derisively. When I saw this episode I knew that no matter how much I wanted to be a Carrie that would never happen because, to me, a food rut is nothing to be sneered at.  Your diet is a microcosm of your life. I’m not saying it’s one of the world’s most pressing issues but being in a food rut is no fun.  A food rut makes the days blur into one and takes the acts of eating and cooking from being fun and creative to just another functional part of our routines.   Happily, unlike other in other areas of life, unslumping yourself in the kitchen can be quite easily done.

Many of us who have fallen victim to the food rut have not done so due to a lack of interest. We spend hours drooling over recipes online and dreaming up our next meal. It’s just that life kind of gets in the way – you might have a small kitchen that you share with others, you want to make food that is both healthy and economical and you have to find the time to cook in between your other commitments like work, exercise and friends. So all too often, instead of preparing an inventive and elaborate meal we often find ourselves defrosting leftovers we have diligently burrowed away or throwing something quick together.  Which is fine…. But is fine really fine? 

Luckily, getting out of the food rut doesn’t require more than a bit of time, organisation and wifi. Using a new recipe or ingredient, or experimenting with a different kind of cuisine just once a week is an achievable target that can bring major benefits – we get the boost that trying new things gives us without ever having to leave the comfort of our kitchens. Your days are that bit more varied, people in work comment on your beautifully prepared lunches and you have more recipes up your sleeve for entertaining friends. Just like trying a new activity or wearing a different accessory, experimenting in the kitchen is a simple  change that can give you a much needed pick-me-up. 

 When Miranda reaches breaking point she goes to the restaurant in person to confront the laughing woman who mocks her. There, she finds her ex-boyfriend Steve who invites her to join him. Midway through ordering her usual fare she thinks better and requests the menu. ‘Go ahead,’ Steve urges her, ‘Live a little.’