I have a slightly stressy relationship with Mother's Day: my mother died several years ago, and I've never had a high enough opinion of my own parenting skills to believe that they deserved celebration. But this year I've had a brilliant day, and in a strange way I think I have to give the pandemic some credit for that.
We never used to be a family that phoned each other, unless we had something quite specific to say, but over the past year we've got into the habit of sharing an hour's chat over Zoom each Sunday afternoon, and this afternoon was no exception. This gave me the opportunity to thank the Offspring for a lovely bouquet of flowers they'd had delivered to me this morning, but it also gave us all the chance to acknowledge that there are now two mothers within our little nuclear family. Like me, L seemed slightly embarrassed at the concept of being put on this temporary pedestal, but I'm pretty sure she was pleased as well.
Apart from the Zoom call, my flowers, some gorgeous chocolates from R, and a personalised card "from" Baby B, the thing that made the day really special was that R and I spent the morning making ourselves a Carluccio's lunch: Penne Gardiniera, with olive focaccia on the side. Back when life was normal we used to enjoy eating out and Carluccio's was one of our regular haunts, but twelve moths ago that stopped abruptly, and over time we've almost ceased to miss restaurants. But a couple of weeks ago I received a marketing email from them, announcing that they've started producing meal kits, and we decided that it might be fun to give one of them a try.
I can report that it very much was fun, and also that out of the three kits on the list, this one at least is very well thought-out. It arrives carefully packed in a large box, chilled with ice packs and wrapped in insulating blankets, and includes everything you need to produce the two recipes, along with instruction cards that are really easy to follow. They've even made most of the packaging in the kit recyclable, which is pretty impressive. Best of all, the results were delicious - R said that the focaccia was the best he'd ever tasted - and I can honestly say I had as much enjoyment out of us creating this meal together today as I would have had from going to a restaurant and having someone make it for me.
These are, of course, very tough times for the hospitality industry, and businesses are having to dream up new ideas to help them survive. Which we all have to hope they can - sooner or later enough people will have been vaccinated that we'll be able to return to something like the lives we lived before, and it will be devastating if those businesses (and the employment they used to provide) are no longer there. I can't really think that producing these kits will make the difference between surviving and folding for Carluccio's, but I hope they help, and that one day I'll be able to walk casually into the restaurant on Waterside in Stratford again, and eat Penne Gardiniera made by a proper chef.