Ah, the Nowhere/Nowhen of the last days of one year and the first days of another! It’s like a carnival in the sense of excess in everything you can overindulge in. Me, I focused on sleep and food.
This is how long it has taken me to finally make a New Year’s pie to my mother’s recipe and have it come out almost exactly as she made it. Not that it’s complex recipe. It’s not. But it has its subtleties, mostly in the amount of shortening you need to add for that perfect softness and succulence.
My mum used to win hearts and minds with this pie, which is not the right word because the banitsa is not exactly a pie but it’s more difficult to pronounce. She made it not just for New Year’s Eve when local tradition calls for fortunes being put in the banitsa and then drawn by members of the family. She made it for guests because it was her famous banitsa. She made it for my friends after my 21st birthday, the birthday party of the decade that featured a lot of vodka (for a lot of people, mind). Tales were told of Tony’s banitsa far and wide though not that far and wide since Bulgaria is not that big.
Ever since my mum died I’ve kept the tradition of making the banitsa for New Year’s Eve but with no one to consult on the details it’s been trial and error. It took me three years, for example, to realise the dough needed to rise twice: once after you make it and once after you form the banitsa. Then it was another few — make that many — years until I learned how to properly roll it. Finally, I solved the shortening mystery. There are no exact amounts of anything in the recipe, you see, it’s a bit of this and two cups of that.
This picture is crappy but I think I might shoot a video making this scrumptiousness, that’s how proud I am. What do you think?
A new thing every week
Speaking of videos, this would be one of the new things I will try doing every week. That was this year’s version of New Year’s resolutions. I can no longer be bothered with resolutions but I would like to make my life more varied without making it more interesting after the extra-interesting 2020 we all had. So in the week of Nothingness, for example, I read at an unusual time, that is, late morning. This is time I normally spent at my laptop but on Friday I spent an hour with my e-reader. It was a fresh and unusual experience and I’m thinking of doing it again.
I’m currently in the process of making a list of all the things I’d like to try at least once a week and I haven’t got very far but I’ve had the idea of a cooking video for a while now and it hasn’t gone away so I might as well go on and do it. I’m also toying with the idea of having breakfast, lunch and dinner one day, for the novelty of it but now I’m getting the feeling I’m focusing too much on food, so we’ll see about that. (Just between us, I’m too nervous I’ll fall asleep at 2 pm if I eat a proper breakfast and a proper lunch, and I hate, I truly hate sleeping in the afternoon.)
Among the other handful of things on my list is watching the Muse Second Law concert in Rome, which Big C. has been advertising for a couple of years now but I’ve been reluctant. It’s because I suspect it won’t be the same as it was when I was a teen and watched concerts of favourite bands with my eyes, and my mind, and my heart, and my soul. I’ve changed since then and there’s a lot less sight, mind, heart and soul to go around, so I’m afraid watching the Rome concert will make me sad. Now, how did I manage to make a blog post that was supposed to be upbeat and entertaining about sadness? Forget you read that paragraph, which I’m not removing because I put effort into writing it.
A mystery solved
I’e thought it on many occasions and now I’ll say it out loud. Social media are generally pits of unhealthy emotions but sometimes, just sometimes, you meet people there who make it worth all the wasted time. A week ago, I pondered the purpose of author newsletters and I asked about it on Twitter.
As fate would have it, an actual knowledgeable person responded, confirming the suspicions I already had. Newsletters only make sense for superfamous, full-time writers, who have something to tell their fans and they also have enough fans to make writing a newsletter worth their while. So, you know, those “writing tips” about starting a newsletter are crap for 99.99% of us.