You can find the recipe for a delicious galette de sarassin that Julia ate on a disastrous romantic weekend away in Paris.
Transcript, read by Julia Georgallis
Hello, welcome to the introduction for the How to eat alone podcast, with me, Julia Georgallis. I’m a baker, I write about food and I currently run edible food museum, The Edible Archive. This is a podcast that looks at the art of eating alone and explores topics surrounding loneliness and aloneness which are not the same thing. I’ll be talking to people from all walks of life about their own experiences of solitude and solo dining. With every episode, I’ll share a recipe which is designed to be cooked and eaten by one person and one person only, because lets face it, most recipes are written for two or more people.
With the arrival of the Covid19 pandemic, we’ve spent the last year talking a lot more about being on our own. After the introduction of vaccination programmes last winter, winter 2020, it seems as though there is a roadmap out of the isolation that the pandemic has caused, at least it does in the UK anyway I suppose it might seem like this podcast has come at a funny time. You know, we’re beginning to see the end of this pandemic, or so we hope, so why launch a podcast about being alone when we're all hopefully about to be reunited again? Why now, I should have done this months ago. Loneliness wasn’t something that Covid created. And once Covid is long gone, people will still be on their own, happily or unhappily and this isn’t something that we forget about and continue as a society to brush under the carpet. Eating by ourselves, pandemic or not, is a massive challenge and lots of people are almost afraid of it, especially when it comes to eating alone in public. But, here’s the thing - feeding yourself is the ultimate act of self-care, as well as an act of survival. And we all have to do it - it’s not just when you’re not in a romantic relationship or you don’t have a family to eat with that you might find yourself eating alone - perhaps you eat alone often at work, or you find yourself studying or working in another country. There’s lots of reasons why we might be eating alone but the act of solo eating hasn’t been given the attention and the celebration that it deserves.
I’m really well qualified to talk about this topic, to talk about being alone, because I am what I refer to as a professional single person, something that I struggled with for a long time. I’m in my early 30s, I don’t have children yet, I don’t have a partner yet, I’ve nearly always worked alone, I’m about move into my own house, I’ve travelled the world on my own, moved countries on my own, I’ve even adopted a dog on my own - and this behaviour seems to really disappoint a lot of people in my life sometimes.
When lockdowns because of pandemic began in March 2020, I found myself, again, living alone, which I’m used to by now. But I was living in Portugal at the time and I hadn’t quite mastered Portuguese and I wasn’t totally integrated into the community, so I did feel isolated. About 6 weeks into that 1st lockdown I was super fed up with takeaways and of making too much food for myself. So I started to work on recipes that were for just one person, that were just for me, and I shared them on social media. And it was amazing, all of a sudden, I just got this wave of messages from people who were also alone, some friends made my recipes for themselves, other people sent me recipe ideas. And it was a really beautiful part of my pandemic experience and I guess the premise of this podcast.. I’ll be discussing a whole host of topics that relate to loneliness, both positive and negative, but I want to start by telling you about this one experience that changed my whole perspective of what it meant to be alone.
My singleness did used to really bother me and I was kind of on this constant quest to find love or to find the other part of myself I suppose. A few years ago, I found myself on a long weekend in Paris. I went with a guy who I was kind of dating. Like lots of the men I dated in this period of my life, he was, I mean, he was awful, he was really unsuitable. And off we went, we went on this weekend away and it was a complete disaster. One of the most frustrating parts of this trip was that we didn’t eat particularly well because he didn’t care about food. I am the opposite - I spend most of my time and money on eating, especially when I am on holiday.
But. There was this ONE place that he took me too, and they served Galette de Sarasins - and it was just brilliant. It was such a wonderful meal. So excuse my terrible French pronunciation, Galettes de Sarrasin, are square shaped, crispy, delicious buckwheat pancakes and they're filled either a sweet or savoury filling.
In my opinion, any kind of pancake is a great option if you’re alone because it’s fun and it feels celebratory and it’s cheap and it’s quick. So to make a galette de sarrasin for one person, whisk 1 egg, 50 g buckwheat flour and 150 ml oat milk - you can use any milk, I just personally prefer oat. Spoon the mixture into a well oiled, really hot pan. And what’s important here is that the pancake base is quite thin. Because if it’s not thin enough, it wont fold over and you won't get that nice square shape. Fry for 1-2 minutes each side then transfer to a baking dish or an oven proof plate. Then you can fill the middle of the galette with a filling of your choice - so you can crack an egg in, or add mushrooms or cheese or spinach. I had a galette with walnuts, apple slices, honey and goat’s cheese, which was pretty glorious. Once your fillings are in the middle of the galette, what you want to do is fold the edges of the galette into the centre to make a square shaped pancake - you’ll just see a suggestion of the filling in the middle, just kind of peeking out from the centre of the pancake. Pop the dish in an oven set to around 200 degrees celsius for about 10 minutes.
This galette meal wasn’t just memorable because I like pancakes, I do have another really vivid memory from that lunch - Opposite where we were sitting, was this French lady. She was sitting alone, I remember she had a glass of red wine. She wasn’t reading a book, she wasn’t on her phone, she wasn’t chatting to the waiters - she was just eating. And She just looked so content - She was alone but she was in much better company than I found myself in at that moment in time. After that weekend, the image of her really encouraged me to reassess. I stopped dating just anyone, which is what I’d been doing up until that point, I think because I was afraid of ending up alone. Not dating just anyone meant that I really didn't date very much for a few years after that, but it also meant that I have changed into the kind of person who really appreciates and cherishes her own company. It took a long time, it was a really long transformation and it reached its completion, luckily, to coincide with the pandemic’s arrival.
But no matter how zen I am about being on my own, no matter how much I really enjoy it now, the fact remains sometimes I still really struggle with ideas of what to cook myself and I know a lot of other people struggle with this too! Like I said, before every podcast episode, I’ll publish the recipe that we’ll be discussing on the How to eat alone project’s blog, so if you want to you can cook along and eat while you listen to this podcast. It’s kind of like I'm your dinner guest.
The recipe for the Solitary Galette is up on the blog, which can be found on theediblearchive.org , just click through to the How to Eat alone section of the website. You can also follow my podcast on instagram - using the handle @the.edible.archive. And, if you like this podcast, I'd be really grateful if you could spread the word! Thanks for listening to this introductory episode, I hope you enjoyed being alone with me and that you'll listen to the podcast as it grows - if you're going to have a crack at making the galette, bon appetit!