I confess that I am a serious cookbook and food-mag reader and hunter. I’m the sort of person who makes a beeline for the culinary section of any given bookshop, be it a posh shop like Fully Booked or Powerbooks or the bargain shelves of either Book Sale or Chapters and Pages. (And, no: I don’t turn my nose up at the second-hand bookshops. It’s where I got my copy of Nigella Christmas for about a quarter of the price in a posh joint. It’s also where I get all my British and Aussie food mags.)
It goes without saying that a person like me would actually go out of her way to look for quirky books on cooking and cuisine in general and my most recent buy is a heck of a lot quirkier than most. How to Forget Your Ex (with the stab of a fork): Solo Recipes for Sporadic Singles is one such book. Penned by Mlles. Claire Jacquet and Marina Veuillet, a pair of upbeat Parisian divorcees, it’s a cheeky sort of cookbook for people nursing broken hearts or who are, like me, bewailing their status as still single at the age of thirty-odd. Dispensing both sensible (if a tad off-center) romantic advice and tips on practical cookery, it’s a worthy read even for those who are happily not-single.
The recipes are quite easy and are certainly a touch on the indulgent side: perfect for solo brunches, snacks (they’re easily doubled or tripled), and lonely suppers. I would also recommend this book for those of you living on your own and are trying to learn how to cook. Trust me: as long as you have a well-stocked fridge and kitchen cupboard and have even a small stove, you’ll be fine.
One of my favorite recipes is a spot-on simple one that’s perfect for breakfast. Found on page 84 of the book, it goes by the rather plain-Jane name oatmeal with chestnuts. It involves cooking rolled oats in sweetened milk flavored with a bit of orange zest, given a bit of crunch by almonds and hazelnuts, and topped with dollops of creme des marrons (chestnut cream).
Mine didn’t quite turn out like the one in the book, but I can tell you straight away that it was delicious: nutty oats suspended in sweet cream flavored with citrus. I didn’t have either hazels or almonds, so I spruced it up with a tablespoon or so unsalted roasted peanuts from Bukidnon which gave it a pleasant, rather honeyed smokiness and a few fresh pili nuts from Bicol that brought a fresh crispness that contrasted beautifully with the soft oats. A squirt of creme des marrons added a soothing sweetness and a mouth-filling smoothness to the dish.
Paired with a steaming mug of cafe au lait, it’s the sort of breakfast that brings a bit of heart back to even the loneliest of singles, giving them the strength to face a new day – and life in general – with new-found hope.