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The Domestic: The salad days of lockdown

The moratorium on hugs and the leisurely, elaborate lunches are just some of the lockdown mores Sophie White is still clinging onto in these days of the new normal


Raspberry & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Raspberry & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Raspberry & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Last week, I signed off a work email arranging an in-person meeting with the immortal line, "Can't wait! I'm gonna wear pants with a waistband! Maybe". I added the 'maybe' for safety, not wanting to promise big and then not deliver. I'm professional like that. An in-person meeting still feels odd in the new normal, and when I went to put on the promised jeans, I found it downright unpleasant. "Mad the things we used to put up with," I remarked as I quickly changed back into my trusty joggers.

For many, coming out of lockdown has been a miraculous return to numerous beloved old ways. The first post Covid-19 manicure and pedicure easily gave me more joy than the births of any of my children. The first visit back to the coffee shop was as life-affirming as It's a Wonderful Life. However, there are also many things we'll be fighting to keep from the lockdown way of life.

Himself has grown very attached to the informality of working from home and conducting all his meetings over Google hangouts. He has been saving huge swathes of time by ditching the commute: he went from a 30-minute cycle to just the time it takes to travel from lying down to sitting up, with his laptop balanced on his knees.

For him, Casual Friday had become Casual Life, with trousers rarely making it on to his legs - in lockdown, he favoured a little blanket draped across his lap in the style of a pensioner.

So far, he has struggled to re-embrace the trouser full-stop, never mind the full waistband vibe, and I occasionally catch him gazing enviously at my dresses. Not that he's a stranger to a skirt - he famously wore a kilt to our wedding, despite having no connection to Scotland whatsoever, in what was blatantly an attempt to upstage my dress.

Other lockdown habits I'm unwilling to part with include eating a Magnum every single day as reward for 'staying at home', and flatly refusing to hug people. I've long been rebelling against our society's strange devotion to full-body contact with anyone from family and friends to near-strangers.

"Why all the hugging?" I would routinely lament. It turned arriving and leaving anywhere into a lengthy, full-contact sport and I, for one, am glad to see the back of it.

The lockdown lunches are another element of the strange pandemic period that I'm holding fast to. I got far too used to crafting elaborate midday meals for myself and will never return to the sad packed lunches of yore - the fact is, sandwiches generally don't travel well, and salads need to be assembled and dressed on the spot, like this summery little plate.


Raspberry & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Serves 4

You will need:

100g pancetta, chopped

Chopped fresh mint

100g rocket leaves

50g toasted pine nuts

1 lemon, zest and juice

50ml rapeseed oil

1 teaspoon honey

Salt and freshly ground

black pepper

50g goat’s cheese, crumbled

250g raspberries

Good-quality sourdough bread, to serve

1 Heat a non-stick frying pan and fry the chopped pancetta until it is crispy. Divide the chopped fresh mint, the rocket leaves and the toasted pine nuts between four bowls. Next, make the dressing. In a jug, whisk the lemon zest, the lemon juice, the rapeseed oil and the honey together with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the contents of each of the bowls.

2 Top each bowl with some of the crumbled goat’s cheese and some of raspberries and serve with slices of the sourdough bread.

Sunday Indo Life Magazine