What’s more important in life? Honest, open connection to other people or a dairy free banana milkshake recipe mixed with peanut butter and topped with pecans? The answer lies in their similarities, as you’ll see…
I’m lost. Really, I don’t know what I’m doing. I hit two hundred blog posts just over a month ago, I’m about to hit three years of blogging and I’m reaching a creative hiatus. I promised myself at the beginning that blogging will be what I want it to be. I swore never to cling to a certain subject or style, simply because that’s what I did last week; it’s the creative freedom which brought me to blogging, so creative freedom is what I must defend if I’m to continue to thrive in my blogging.
To be frank, I enjoy writing about life the most. Food may feature, because there is something utterly compelling about food, I write a lot of academic work about food, but less for my blog. I imagine that my last university assignment would bore you all to tears, although I’m happy to share it if you wish. It’s content is very, very specifically about food and absolutely nothing else.
When it comes to pontificating about the London’s latest culinary despatches, I’ve never desired to be a celebrated, pompous, privileged writer, sashaying around London’s restaurant scene. Besides, I’ve always felt removed by 1 degree of involvement from being able to really let rip and describe the delicate intricacies of taste and flavour. My unfaltering self-doubt tells me that I’m not great at combining flavours and developing recipes and I’ve never created what I would call a ‘big hit’ recipe.
The foundations of this blog lay upon recipe, photography and word, because that is what I wanted to do in the summer of 2014. People change, and perhaps I need to reconsider what I’m doing.
There’s little worse in life than doing things simply because you believe that’s what is expected of you. Or even worse, doing things because it’s everyone else is doing, which I feel is a big danger in blogging and any other part of life for that matter. Unconventionality is to be prized, not avoided. Besides, I love this part, this exact moment of writing, right now, where I’m talking about how I feel about it everything. I’m not describing the fluttery, buttery notes or nutty overtures in the dairy-free milkshake that features as an addendum in the recipe below.
Even my YBF entry last year was a story about how I felt about the experience of creating food, rather than food itself. If I follow that course then I’m going somewhere different, I’m certainly not heading down the path of a recipe writer. I’m headed on a different tack, and that, my friends, is a fabulous thing, as long as I have the confidence to follow it, even when there are very few signposts along the way.
Because what’s worse than doing the same shit as everyone else? For example, every time I read a description of a seed or grain using the word ‘nutty’, part of my soul weeps, because it’s the most quintessentially trite thing to say about a grain. I don’t want to be that person. I’m desperately trying to find a way in life, to live, work and succeed in a different way.
Creating recipes because I think other people expect me to, will make life hell. A very dull, boring hell, with none of the alluring Dantean fury of imaginary hell. That life is also doomed to failure, because it’s chasing other people, not leading them. Leading the pack is where greatness can be found. You may start at the back, clinging onto the coat tails, copying styles, techniques and mannerisms, even their ways of being. These learnings are then cast aside and your own way of being blossoms. You work your way through the pack, becoming bolder, stronger and more articulate about what you want. Eventually, you get to the front of the pack and there, you can find greatness in yourself.
That sounds like ego, grandiosity or alluding to my own greatness, but frankly, we’re all great and we can all lead, which is my message today. A lot of people don’t think they’re great, or even believe or know they have the capacity to be great. They think they’re awful, bad, unworthy people. For a long time I did, because writing my bland, inoffensive articles on this blog was a fundamental challenge, why would anyone want to read the meaningless drivel I create or consider what I have to say as important?
I always say that nobody reads this anyway, which is the danger of comparing myself to others. When other food blogs exist with millions of monthly views, it’s easy to get lost in my unworthiness and declare my efforts a failure. I often think that for all the content I’ve created, the images I’ve poured my heart over and social media interaction, hardly anyone reads my blog. It’s a complete lie, because people do read this, by the thousands every week. By any measure, aside from my own, that’s a fantastic success, but I find it easier to latch onto the failure than a joy.
Above all, this blog keeps me in check, as a commitment to creating a new one post a week, it helps me to focus on achieving something outside of the other stuff in my life. The content of my blog, however, is going to change. I’m not sure how, but I think it’s time for the heart of Le Petit Oeuf to undergo some changes. The visual shell of the blog, the bit you see upon arrival changed last month during a summertime design refresh. Now it’s time for the inside to change. I’m not sure how, it will still be about food, but in a different way. I need to explore and get a few things wrong, that’s the only way I’m going to find it, through error.
Because, I love food, period, I always have. I love photography, I love engaging over the creation of a really special image. I love writing, scratching and hammering words onto the page or screen. My morning pages collection is a full 14 months strong now, I’ll hit half a million words before the end of the year. I really enjoy getting luscious little words to march down the page, in the order which befits both themselves and the reader’s mind. They probably confuse the reader on occasion, but that’s also my un-worthiness talking, as if anything besides perfection is not OK.
There’s one part of the food blogging picture which is missing. It’s developing recipes. I think that’s my weak spot, or to be more accurate, it’s the bit which gets in the way of everything else I love doing. I create my best images when unconcerned with the creation of the recipe as well. When I just prepare, cook then twiddle and tweak the food and camera to make it look even more amazing than it does when viewed through my eyes.
I’m now chuckling away to myself, because having written over a thousand words, completely caught up in myself, I realise there’s a recipe attached to this. Whaddya want? Paragraphs about ‘nutty’ flavours and health giving tips? Screw that, it’s a dairy free milkshake which tastes awesome, what more do I need to say? Just make it and love it, enjoy it and share it.
That’s the moral to this recipe. It doesn’t matter how we progress in life as long as it’s for ourselves and that’s what matters for my blog, that I share part of me. Because it’s the one thing that benefits all of humanity; openly sharing our life experiences. At the beginning of this post, I was sharing my experience of turmoil over how to write my blog in the coming months, but now I simply want to share a milkshake with you. If sharing is the pinnacle of human connection, then God can take me now and I can die a happy man, having shared my experience of life, and more importantly, this milkshake with you, my dear reader.
Dairy Free Banana Milkshake with Peanut Butter
By Gavin Wren
Uses a blender.
1 banana, sliced and frozen (about 100g once peeled)
150ml oat milk (other non-dairy milks will work just as well)
1 tablespoon peanut butter plus extra for dressing the glass.
2 scoops Swedish Glace vanilla ice cream
Optional: Crushed pecans for sprinkling.
Place the banana, oat milk, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 1 scoop of ice cream into a blender. Whizz on a high speed until smooth.
Pour into a glass, top with another scoop of ice cream and sprinkle pecans on top if using them.