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It was, I think, my flippant statement that I suspected my first book (everyone has one, right?!) would be about cheese rolls that led me to here, staring back at you from the pages of the newspaper.
Starting out as a casual walk along the beach with writer Liz Breslin, things quickly escalated to all manner of genius ideas, beginning with coffee and culminating in collaborative column writing. This column.
As a recent returnee to Otepoti, the coast where I was born and raised, a column where I get to write about what’s in my head seemed like the perfect way to start connecting again, a gentle re-entry, if you would, while I tussle with all the things that are so easy to let go when you don’t live on your turangawaewae; the constant confrontation of broken whakapapa links; the complexities of familiarity when you’re not familiar anymore; the judgemental faces of teenage years past; feeling connection to land in a changed way, fed by growing up and exploring beyond.
You know what else? Getting to share my cheese roll wisdom and musing about rolling towards my 40th birthday celebrations in a professional context, with deadlines and stuff, seemed pretty awesome. And also a whole lot easier than the other stuff; my day-to-day work in an increasingly under resourced arts sector where we’re having to continually build the structures within which to even begin to deliver our actual work; balancing self-employment — AKA never really taking a day off — with the needs of the significant others in my life, while at the same time trying to fuel my own creativity and self-care.
Cheese rolls in every cafe in the region, I was coming for you strong.
Life has a way of putting paid to these ideas sometimes though, eh.
Along came Level 4 and in this very column space in The Weekend Mix, Talia Marshall’s mission to count the Maori in Maori Hill was foiled (28.08.21), Liz Breslin’s avoidance of her eyebrows and her relative value system, foiled (04.09.21). Oh well, I surmised, alongside working from home and fulltime childcaring/educating, I would not be foiled: I could perfect making cheese rolls again.
Honestly, what better environment is there to casually reacquaint myself with the holy grail of cheese rollery? Constantly I’m asked the question, ‘‘where is the best cheese roll?’’. If truth be told, the best place, like with all food, should be at home. Homemade is always best.
Hubby’s a fan of the Boffice (the very popular-on-Zoom bed-office). I myself prefer the Koffice (yep, the kitchen-office), laptop on the bench ready to write a report or submit a funding application while simultaneously cooking. We were good to go.
And then the fridge/freezer carked it.
And yes, even in a Level 4 lockdown you can order essential items, of which in 2021, a fridge is most definitely considered one; but that doesn’t always mean that the one you can afford, that fits the very specific cavity in your kitchen, is to hand. Throw in freighting time from another city, delivery delays, blah blah, you get the picture.
No fridge means no cheese and no butter. The plus side was that for X days (I have no idea any more) I cooked every meal based around the stunning heap of mostly homegrown veges we could leave on the kitchen bench, beside my laptop. Supplemented by cupboard staples and the last few scraps of things we could safely rescue from the freezer (including a cubic tonne of corn, it would seem) we ate incredibly well, that delightful kind of food that having a weird amount of time at home allows you to luxuriously prepare, and all vegetarian. But no fridge and no cheese and no butter makes, well, no cheese rolls.
X long weeks, X longer days and three (yay, I know one of the answers!) levels of Covid alert levels have now passed since that first fateful day when Liz and I had the beach walk that led me to here ... and it turns out I too was foiled, with not a single cheese roll ingested in that time and still rather a lot to unpack.