Doing Ottolenghi-style things with asparagus, new French beans, baby potatoes, baby fennel, new pink garlic, tender creamy goat’s cheeses. Grated ginger, fresh limes, wild lettuce leaves, rocket, salads with toasted sesame seeds and lemon zest that have crunch and aliveness and flavour in every bite.
Reading and considering JM Coetzee’s question to a psychoanalyst on her approach to the truths of clients’ lives:
What is it that impels you, as a therapist, to want your patient to confront the truth about themselves, as opposed to collaboration or colluding in a story—let us call it a fiction, but an empowering fiction—that would make the patient feel good about themself, good enough to go out into the world better able to love and work?
Is consolation and fantasy inimical to living an ethical and honest life? I’m wondering this as I work on a fiction that is at core an exercise in truth-telling even if it is not a simple recall of ‘what happened’. As I blanch fine beans in ice water and fan out slices of ripe avocado, whisk olive oil and lemon juice with Dijon mustard, I’m working out another scene featuring a character determined not to confront her past. We need the truth in our lives, we need to have people around us capable of telling us truths we may not like to hear. My character chooses to inhabit a blurry and indistinct space and when she looks in the mirror she sees only a wavering fog of self-pity, delusion, comfort-seeking. A sentence from Jacqueline Rose comes back to me: “I do believe that if you negotiate these things as complex aspects of your own psyche then you will not have to subordinate other people to the project of lying to yourself.”
As straightforward and powerful as that. The salad splashed with dressing and ready for lunch in the garden, life histories rolling around like boulders in a swift-moving stream, shifting position and catching the sun on their shoulders.