Monday 5 December 2016

Passing fancy for the office grudge/crush

Having an innocent flirtation at the office keeps the love of the job alive, but what to do when the object of your fixation resigns? Focus on lunch

Sophie White

Published 13/04/2015 | 02:30

Caesar salad. Deposit Photos
Caesar salad. Deposit Photos
Sophie White

I was on the hunt for a job recently and it was exhausting. I was so worn out, that by the time I was finally offered a position, I was tempted to decline and just go for a nap. Luckily, the thought of "the extension" spurred me on, and I am now the proud owner of a new job.

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The whole house-extension fixation really took me by surprise. I thought I was still years away from "the extension" obsession, still a vibrant youngster, capable of overdoing it on the Martinis. Doing an add-on is the single biggest signifier that you have officially grown up. Obsessing over my extension makes me feel older and more responsible than I did when they gave me the baby at the hospital.

Of course, they won't let just any old person have an extension. They're not like babies. The banks, quite understandably, have reservations about the financial situation of Himself and myself, hence the job search. I thought that it was time to get something that more closely resembles a real career.

The 'previous experience' section of the CV shows a chequered career past. I have worked in McDonalds, been a professional egg-poacher, and a life-drawing model. The fact that I have experience in a variety of roles still doesn't help in convincing the bank, apparently.

At the start, going into "the office" every day was such a novelty - I felt like a real person. As I spent most of my 20s working in busy kitchens, it is a revelation to be working in a job where I have the luxury of just going to the loo whenever I want. And an hour-long lunch break! Though I've subsequently realised that actually taking the lunch break is not the done thing - most people seem to eat their lunch at their desk.

While I am still loving the job, inevitably that new sheen has worn off slightly, but I have cracked what it takes to keep a new job fresh and engaging. It's two things, actually. An office crush and an office grudge.

What's even better to hold your interest at work is when your office crush and your office grudge are the same person. This adds an additional element of "so wrong, it's right" to the proceedings. I had selected my prey early on when I took the job. Really early on; at the interview, in fact. He was the bad cop in the interview dynamic. This inspired a grudge, naturally, but then he hired me - which intrigued me, and inevitably led to my fancying him.

Unfortunately, a few weeks into my working there, the Office Grudge/Crush resigned. I'm sure this was in no way caused by my creepy presence. Having the Grudge/Crush gave shape to my day, something to get up for in the morning, like when you fancied someone at school.

Now, I'm at sea. All I've got to look forward to at work is the lunch break. Since his departure, I've been cheering myself up with this tasty chicken salad. Office salad - so Working Girl. Now I just need a new sexy nemesis to fixate on.

Chicken Caesar Salad

Makes 2 portions.

You will need:

2 chicken breasts

Juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

100g (3½oz) bacon lardons

2 slices wholemeal or sourdough bread

Olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 small heads of cos lettuce, washed and patted dry

40g Parmesan cheese, grated

For the dressing, you will need:

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

A handful of chives, finely chopped

Juice of ½ a lemon

3 tablespoons warm water

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, Gas 4. Butterfly the chicken breasts and place them on a lined baking tray. Squeeze the lemon juice over them and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake the chicken breasts in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through. Dry fry the bacon lardons in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat until they are nice and crispy.

When the chicken is nearly cooked, with about five minutes to go, make the croutons. Tear the slices of sourdough or wholemeal bread, whichever you are using, into bite-size pieces and scatter them on a baking tray with a little olive oil, the dried thyme and a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper, and place in the oven for five minutes, until they are crispy. Arrange the dried cos lettuce leaves, the grated Parmesan, the cooked bacon lardons and the croutons in two large bowls.

For the dressing, whisk the mayonnaise and the Dijon mustard together in a bowl. Add the finely chopped anchovies and chives to the bowl, along with the lemon juice. Combine everything thoroughly and whisk in the three tablespoons of warm water to thin the dressing out a little.

Slice the cooked chicken breasts, place on top and drizzle with the dressing.

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