Recently, I've been veering towards vegetarianism, something sure to make me deeply unpopular with meat-eaters and actual vegetarians. I was a vegetarian for a couple of years when I was about 17 (and 16 or 18 I suppose, by that logic). I wasn't fond of lentils or beans, so my diet was mostly roast dinners with the chicken scraped off. Ultimately, I ended up with a lot of headaches and one day on my way home from Marks & Spencer with my mum, I ate some packaged chicken. It was over.
Until now. Sort of. Unfortunately, I still don't like lentils or beans. But now I'm 30 and more sensible. I realise that only eating potato, while charmingly Irish when living in Scotland, is not very good for me.
I've managed to get on board with pretend meat. While the faux chicken and mince isn't really fooling anyone, it's quite manageable. The chicken nuggets are by far the closest, which really says something about actual chicken nuggets. So now I'm a much better almost-vegetarian than I was when I was 17 because I eat potato and fake chicken nuggets.
I thought I'd try get into chickpeas. They taste like nothing, but have a weird texture. It's not like meat, but it's not really like vegetables either. So maybe the idea is that your brain thinks 'not vegetable - must be meat' because obviously there are only 2 possibilities in that scenario. Anyway, I bought a packet of them in Sainsburys. I've only ever had them in ready-made salads so I didn't really know how to buy them. I assumed they came ready to eat, like peanuts.
The packet instructions say to soak them overnight in a big saucepan. The next day you boil them for an hour, then leave them to simmer. Then drain them.
When I finally got round to reading these instructions, about 2 months after buying them, I obviously went to throw them in the bin. This isn't famine-era Ireland. We don't soak our porridge oats for 3 days anymore. I'm used to the convenience of pre-washed lettuce in a plastic bag.
Poised for dropping them in the bin, Dan suddenly interrupted me. He demanded we give it a try. He then amended that a bit and said he would give it a try and I didn't need to be involved. So he put the whole lot in a saucepan and left them to soak.
The next morning, they had taken over the kitchen. Perhaps in retrospect, the whole packet was a little extreme. Especially for 2 people who don't even like chickpeas very much. But never mind that now. We still had hours of toil to go. The boiling commenced. 7 days later, the shipping container of chickpeas was ready for consumption.
I tried one. As expected, it didn't really taste of anything. I Googled 'how the hell do people eat chickpeas' and found some roasting/herb suggestions. Into the oven, doused in herbs. Removed from oven. Slightly crispier, still didn't taste of anything.
Now the remaining chickpeas have been lovingly poured into tupperware where they may sit in the fridge for about 6 weeks, until we finally give in and throw them away. The tupperware box is massive, to accommodate this ridiculous quantity of chickpeas, so we're going to have forgo some other stuff. Like milk and butter, and that half an onion perpetually wrapped in clingfilm.