As I await the arrival of my cook box...

Currently number 36 in the queue

Hello,

I finally succumbed to the cook box thing. You know the cook box thing. You sign up for a box of groceries which makes exactly the right number of servings for exactly the number of people in your household. The boxes are called things like Yogic Chef, Mindful Cook and The Saucy Saucier. They are THE ANSWER to that eternal question, ‘What are we going to have for dinner/supper/tea?’ (delete according to how posh you are.) Tonight it’s a veggie Laksa salad, whatever that might be.

I was resisting the temptation but eventually decided to give it a whirl as my grocery bill seems to have inflated recently.

I now get a box containing all the individual ingredients needed to make each recipe, in tiny packets. 32g of vegetable stock paste nestles up against a 75g packet of feta cheese. I feel like there’s a chance I’ll waste less with this system.

Plus, I get to enjoy the exciting sensation that a parcel is coming. Every Monday is Christmas at my flat.

However, I also feel a little infantilised. Having exactly what you need on hand for a recipe takes me straight back to Home Ec classes in 1997.

The classes were run by two women, Mrs N and Mrs E, who were smaller than me (I am 5’2.)

What Mrs N&E lacked in stature, they made up for in sheer aggressive enthusiasm for a properly tossed salad.

Every week they would issue an ingredients list, and we would bring everything in, packed tightly into a round wicker shopping basket with a tea towel over the top.

I don’t know who decided it had to be a round wicker shopping basket. There was a collective, unspoken, unwritten consensus about it.

It was always incredibly difficult to bring sufficiently small quantities of ingredients in. Mum rummaged through cupboards, finding smaller and smaller containers, which would then inevitably spill on the way in.

Over time we learnt to secure everything with 5mm brown elastic bands, which only added to the magic of the cooking experience.

The basket was awkward to get on the school bus, had to be perched on top of the knees for the entire 1-hour commute, and made it look like I was looking forward to an afternoon attending a picnic with a bunch of friendly bears.

At the beginning of the Home Ec term, we were given worksheets that explained the order in which to wash things up (glasswear, cutlery, crockery, crocks). Terrifyingly, this order is still with me 20 years later.

I was truly terrible at Home Ec. I once made a rice and vegetable salad which looked absolutely dismal. It had chunks of inexpertly sliced carrots all over the top of it and was presented in a 4.5 litre washed-out ice cream tub. Mrs N and Mrs E peered into the tub in dismay and gave me 4/10 for presentation.

I thought that was generous.

I’ve been tracking my cook box as it travels around southwest London in a Large Van. The driver, Nathan, who looks relaxed and dapper, leaning casually against a table in his photo on this tracker app thing, has 87 deliveries before mine.

87!

What on Earth is everybody ordering? These can’t all be Yogic Chef boxes, surely. Can they?!

I ran a bath. Had a bath. Read some more of my book, ‘The Wisdom of Anxiety’ until the bathwater ran cold. Then returned to my laptop to see how Nathan was getting on.

36 deliveries before mine now. Estimated delivery time: 7pm.

I hope Nathan is ok. 87 deliveries sounds exhausting. I imagine being in a Large Van, he’s alright. He’s probably got the radio on.

The whole thing reminds me of when I used to work for the BBC. We had radio cars that could be dispatched off to various bits of London and beyond, for when a Minister had agreed to be on Today, but on the proviso that we send the broadcasting equipment to them.

Some poor soul would be dispatched off to their country pile at 4 am in a dilapidated Sprinter, erect a ginormous radio mast, and be offered not even a cup of tea for their trouble.

There was a similar tracker app for the radio cars, and I spent quite a lot of my time sitting in a central control area, watching a tiny dot on the tracker progress towards the Minister’s house, until some kind of unholy traffic blockage emerged out of nowhere and no further progress was made.

Then, we had to get creative about how to get the Minister’s contribution into the studio ‘in quality.’ This usually involved Skype, and was rarely successful.

Once, we had the opposite problem.

A taxi was bringing a particularly keen minister into the studio, but got stuck in a dreadful snarl-up in central London.

‘Would the minister kindly exit the car, and walk for 20 minutes to the ‘nearby’ Millbank studios?’ I asked. He wasn’t happy.

This sort of incident is precisely why ministers insisted on having a radio car sent to their house in the first place.

I think Yogic Chef is giving me a little too much control over the delivery of this cook box.

What happened to the good old days, when you’d be told your delivery would arrive between 6 am and 10.30 pm and you had to wait, a burning knot of dread building in your stomach as you made a quick dash to the postbox?

Never before have I been sent the name, photograph and mobile phone number of the delivery driver, plus an app to track the delivery.

I feel too invested in this box now. This Laksa salad had better be good. I’m just going to see if I’ve got anything more attractive than a washed-out ice cream tub to serve it in.


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