Some things are just nice to come home to. While I can’t for a minute say that I had a hard day at the office, it was nonetheless an uplifting pleasure on this late November evening to walk out of the drizzle and fog and into the house to be greeted by the unexpected wafting aroma of a cottage pie fresh from the oven. As the name suggests, cottage pie (like its virtually synonymous shepherd’s pie) is an inheritance from the modest rural crowd, whether cattle or sheep herders. Cottage pie ranks right up there with any of the other marvellous “comfort foods” which I challenge anyone to deny. Sometimes it is so relieving to have nothing more to do than to attach a bib to your collar and to hunker down to a delicious and hearty meal! Comfort foods seem to invite informality and resolute indulgence.
It is a well-known and accepted adage that the best sauce for any meal is an appetite. I would add to that observation that the appearance of a dish can go a long way to whet one’s craving as well. In those few moments between the resting of the dish and its delivery to table for consumption there are thousands of olfactory and visual signals at play, frequently tempting the casual bystander to his utmost limits. It takes someone of greater mettle than I to resist the mouth-watering temptation of a piping hot meal, especially one which combines the rustic elements of what were once modest folk ingredients skilfully baked in French porcelain on a cold and damp day. The sacrament of Heaven!
I never cease to marvel at the toil and deliberation which precedes the serving of these very fine dishes. In matters culinary, whether prepared for the common people or not, a beautifully prepared meal is a blessing to be sure and not one to be understated. Our five senses are hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. An exceptional meal draws on at least three of the five, and sometimes more. Small wonder it is such an experience!