My whole life has been about finding comfort, I think that’s true for most. The difference with me is that it manifests through every fibre of who I am and not just the eating.
I made a personal and very strong decision when we sold “Comfort at My Table” and embarked on the journey of cafe number 3. The decision was to move as far away from Comfort Food as possible. I remember telling Gideon that I needed to prove I wasn’t a one trick pony. The funny thing in hindsight is, I can’t run from my own fibre. Ok; some examples:
1. The wallpaper that we currently have at “The Jam Pantry” wasn’t supposed to be. I’d chosen a beautiful big French Chintz with open yellow roses and envisaged our new cafe to be decorated in a very simple French Farmhouse style. Minimal colour, lots of grey and white with accents of yellow, allowing the food to really pop. The day I was meant to pick up said wallpaper, I got a call to say it wasn’t made anymore and I’d have to go and choose something else. The irony is I took 4 weeks to purposefully choose wallpaper that wasn’t me, to then take 20 minutes to choose something that was. Comfort.
2. The wall hangings were almost non-existent. I stubbornly resisted, leaving the walls blank for 2 years. I was still sitting in my French Industrial Farmhouse rebellion, but not really being able to commit to what to put on the walls, until I realised that they HAD to be me. I spent 1 morning collecting and that afternoon hanging and et voila; done. Comfort.
3. Our plates came in 2 colours, grey and white. The food popped, yes but it wasn’t until I bought stacks of colourful crockery I liked, allowing each dish to dictate what colour it needed on its own eclectic glory, that the food really felt like it was birthed from my creative bent. Until then it was just another white plate in another random cafe. Comfort.
and now finally
4. THE FOOD is coming home. I’ve had a real epiphany about who I am. Yes; I adore preserving. Yep; seasonal cooking really floats my boat in a big way. Oh boy I really, really hate waste but not just in a hipster “Lets compost everything in sight” way. In an “Honestly do we really need to throw that perfectly prepared meal in the bin because somebody over ordered?” or a, “How can we use every last little bit of that ingredient so nothing actually goes in the bin in the first place” way. In-spite of all that honourable (and somewhat head up my own arse cooking), I’ve stepped away from Comfort. I’ve stepped away from cooking from the depths of my soul, from telling a story about the women in my family, my history, your history. I’ve chosen to ignore my (very) emotional food memories, the truth of who I am and in doing so have stepped away from feeding you with food that truly nourishes. Comfort.
And so now, I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked to put scones on the menu. I’ve baulked at the old fashioned notion but, surrender has come. How fitting that it has come for May and Mother’s Day; the epitome of Comfort. So yes, there will be scones, but my Nanna’s Lemonade Scones. There will be Jam, though not strawberry; Rosella was her favourite. There will be freshly whipped cream with a little nudge of nutmeg. The beautiful old lady that lived next door to us when I was 15 put nutmeg in hers and made the most magnificent cheesecake you can imagine, with condensed milk. My 15 year old self cried with each bite; seriously. And yes, there will be fine bone china cups for your leaf tea, because any other way would not be Comfort.
Comfort won’t just be found in the scones though. From May; I’ll be Finding Comfort in so many of the things that will be offered at The Jam Pantry, as it should be. My prayer is that when you come and eat, you’ll find comfort too. That somehow, we’ll create new emotional memories. Comfort.