I spent the last 12 months like one of those ships in Turner’s paintings, unmoored and at the mercy of the storm. Whilst the paintings convey the fury and force of the ocean but are somewhat serene and appealing when observed hanging on a museum wall, being in the middle of the storm is neither serene nor appealing. My way of coping with my present circumstances has been to detach and let events take me where they may. For someone who was used to worry more than the average person, always imagining catastrophic endings and sinister scenarios, this is a new state of affairs. Twelve years of yoga taught me about detachment in a cerebral sort of way – something I could recognize but that happened to other people, possibly in purple robes atop mountainous peaks in the Himalayas.
It’s not that I don’t care – it’s that I can’t put in the effort of plotting, conniving, conjuring personal debacles in the hope of staving them off. But, in the process, I have left events and other people take over my life. A job offer might develop into a firm offer or it might not but I don’t do anything to make it go the way I want because, frankly, I don’t know what I want. This is also a new development for someone who has been driven and on the go for as long as I can remember. There was always something else to achieve, to get, to strive for, to work towards. Now, I let it happen.
I waffle when asked what I want. It hasn’t felt so bad to let go of constant control – I still control with freaky precision my environment where dishes are done right after dinner, the bed is made when I get up, my space is meticulously cleaned once a week and the dog is walked punctually every day. One cannot expect miracles.
But back to waffling, which is what prompted this whole musing anyway. I had never heard of a waffle before I travelled to the States although, after some brief research into one of my favourite subject, food history, I found out that waffles originated in the Middle Ages. Ancient Greeks might dispute that, as apparently they used to cook some grain concoction between two metal plates but I feel we are stretching the connection here.
The precursor to the waffle as we know it was a wafer cooked between two metal plates and Germany seems to be the most likely land of origin, although it spread quickly all over Europe. The grids used to cook waffles in became very elaborate, with decorative motifs, including the beehive one we are still using today.
Waffles were so popular that were used to be sold by street vendors, especially outside churches on Sundays. And the merchants were so many, all fighting for the best locations that, to avoid bickering that could turn violent, the King of France had to step in and regulate them like hot dog vendors in New York.
Sometimes I do feel between two metal irons – other people’s choices are pushing me in and it seems like the time has come to take hold of my path. Enough meandering. Even if it means resuming praying to patron saints and worrying about the next catastrophe. Incidentally, the patron saint of Pastry Chefs is St. Honore. But more about that fabulous cake that bears his name some other time.