i made this once in the winter with butternut squash and real tomatoes instead of tinned ones. i think winter squash works better because it is firmer - so it's probably something you'll want to put off until at least november. once you start eyeing up squash and sweet potatoes at the greengrocer's, you know it's all over. mind you, we've had the kind of summer where you can't leave the house without an umbrella. i keep looking at all my summer clothes, bought in a moment of optimism so divorced from empirical evidence that it hurts to admit it, and wondering when i'll just give in and put them in the cupboard downstairs.
considering saturday morning was another autumn-like day, eating a breakfast as warm, sweet and spicy as this was actually really quite nice. i was on my own and i ate it while looking at dresses for the wedding on the internet. not wedding dresses, you see, but dresses for the wedding.
i don't really know why i am doing this nine months before the event. in fact, the whole wedding thing has become a bit strange, if i am totally honest. i oscillate violently between thinking it is such a ridiculous thing to be doing (i don't mean the getting married bit, i mean the reception - i don't and never have had any doubts about marrying him) and reconciling myself to what looks like the inevitable. as in, if you're going to do it, you may as well do what people expect, even if you are not bothered.
the whole set of expectations that goes with it - the white dress, the cake, the speeches - i genuinely don't get. it's not an affectation, or some firmly held feminist view (though it is tinged with the latter) - i just DO NOT GET IT. honestly. in the same way i don't get why people continue listening to anything that the organised church has to say. i suppose i get people who are religious and who have made the leap of faith and decided that this something, whatever it is, exists. that's fine by me, even though i think the evidence is pretty well stacked against them. but the church - the robes, the hats, the beards, the incense, the ridiculous prohibitions about condoms, the canonisation of saints and veneration of miracles? what the hell is that all about??
i guess i understand the context in which the wedding paraphernalia came about. once upon a time women really were virgins on their wedding night, give or take the odd tart, people believed that throwing grains or rice (now confetti) would bestow fertility upon the couple and that going over the top with decorations and noise would ward off evil spirits. but what exactly is the point of all of this now? it's like believing that it's unlucky to walk underneath a ladder.
i can see my mum rolling her eyes and saying: 'boze, danka, jesi cudna', roughly translated as (exasperated): 'for god's sake, don't be such a weirdo.' she is not a woman with much time for girlie nonsense but i think she secretly likes a bit of pomp and circumstance if the occasion is right. unlike me (and dad, who feels no need to conform to expectations he perceives as ridiculous) - she also has an overdeveloped sense of what's right, in a middle class kind of a way, and that generally means going the whole hog and trying to please everyone.
i mean, i want to wear a nice dress as much as the next woman and - let's face it - probably more, but do i really need to have some flowers artfully tied into a bouquet by a GCSE leaver from maidenhead? or, considering i've lived with this man for 5 years, will not seeing me for one night really make him look at me any differently than any other time i put on a f##k-off dress and heels? i'd like to think not but it seems the world and his wife disagree.
i am determined not to give in though. this means i will not turn into bridezilla and spend sleepless nights worrying about the width of the ribbon on my bouquet or how the colour scheme will work. this might disappoint some - i can guess who they are already - and i'm sure there will be some tutting and a few bitchy comments, but what the hell. i am just really looking forward to marrying the man. (even if he does hate my taste in music - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox6aHGmfxB8 - genius! but do listen till the end.)
oh - and don't expect there to be a cake.
ROAST SUMMER SQUASH WITH TOMATO AND CHILLI SAUCE
1 summer squash (the small, round, orange kind)
salt and pepper
chilli flakes (optional)
for tomato sauce:
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
a generous handful of chopped coriander
for the squash, preheat the oven to 180C. cut the squash into eights and deseed. put in a roasting tray, sprinkle with olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes if using. roast for 45 minutes or until the squash is soft when pierced with a knife and nicely charred around the edges.
for the tomato sauce, heat some olive oil in a small pan, add the garlic, chilli and tomatoes. simmer for 20 or so minutes, or until the sauce is no longer watery. stir in the coriander at the end.
PS if someone can tell me what exactly 'favours' are all about and if they existed before yanks introduced them in an effort to sell stuff, i'd be most grateful.