Jimmy Soul sang:
If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life
Never make a pretty woman your wife
So from my personal point of view
Get an ugly girl to marry you
If I am after a great meal, I will almost automatically shy away from a restaurant with a pretty view, on the basis that you will probably be served underwhelming food while being overwhelmed by the view. And from childhood, we are told never to judge a book by its cover, as if an ugly exterior practically guarantees a mesmerising interior – and vice versa.
Maybe it’s just sour grapes, but it seems that we are programmed to be suspicious of pretty things. The pretty girl in class has to be a little dim, right? I mean she can’t have it all? Leonardo di Caprio is surely too, well… pretty to be able to really act? And by the same token, food that is all prettied up is surely trying to hide something – overcompensate, if you will, for its lack of taste? So I won’t be surprised if you call me shallow if I say that I love pretty things – but there, I’ve said it. I Love. Pretty. Things. I am a sucker for a sparkly thing or in fact anything that I think will add a visual element of beauty to my home, day or life. I get grumpy in an ugly environment, even if it takes me a while to figure out exactly what it is that’s making me grumpy. So when something comes along that allows me to curate lots of pretty things in one place, you can bet I’m going to be a sucker for it.
I was a late adopter of Facebook; and I was an even later adopter of Twitter (yes, that was me calling it “evil Twitter” back in oh, 2009…). But it took a mere few months for me to leap enthusiastically on the Pinterest bandwagon. If you haven’t encountered Pinterest up till now (owing to your sequestration in a cliff-top monastery in outer Mongolia, perhaps), let me tell you that it is digital Nirvana for anybody who has ever kept a scrapbook of magazine clippings. In the recesses of a box somewhere in my house, I still have my album of Duran Duran clippings. But fast forward nearly 30 years and Pinterest has now taken over where my scrapbooks left off. It is a platform that allows you to create electronic pinboards or scrapbooks of any images you find on the Internet, covering absolutely any topic you care to mention. My personal favourites include cats, home decor, skiing and food photography and styling tips – but what I love most of all is my From the Cooksister Kitchen board where I can collate all the recipes from my blog in one easily searchable board.
So how does one use Pinterest and why should you join Pinterest? Well the easiest way to think of it is as a bookmarking site like Google Bookmarks, but instead of having the bookmmark appear as part of an unappetising long list of text links, each link takes the form of a photo to remind you of why you bookmarked it in the first place. If you are planning a wedding or similar event, you can have boards for dresses, rings, flower arrangement and the like – and the best thing is that these bookmarks and images are always with you, as long as you have your mobile phone handy, so it is easy to show somebody exactly what you are talking about. It’s also an invaluable tool if you are redecorating and trying to keep say all your bathroom, bedroom and verandah ideas together in one place. Travel junkies can collate boards of places they’ve been. would like to go, or are planning a trip to. And of course for food bloggers, it means you can collect all your own recipes in one place as a visual reference, or keep boards for specific types of recipes from other people that you’d like to try – vegetarian, cupcakes, gluten-free and so on. And if you are a business, Pinterest is a fantastic way to intract with customers and encourage them to engage with your brand – South African brand Yuppiechef’s Pets In Our Packaging board is a great example of this.
After achieving phenomenal success with Pinterest in the US, the company has now launched in the UK and I was recently invited to take part in their month-long Pin It Forward campaign – each day a pinner introduces some of their boards and then also introduces their readers to another Pinner who will in turn introduce a new pinner to their readers and so forth. Yesterday I was lucky enough to be introduced by Lady Loves Cake who has some amazing boards including one composed of photos from her travels – well worth a visit. And she has now passed the baton to me to introduce the next pinner, who happens to be my lovely friend Margot from Coffee and Vanilla! Not only is she a good friend and excellent blogger, but she is also a keen pinner – check out all her boards on Pinterest! My favourites are her boar about Polish food and her board featuring recipes from Coffee and Vanilla – do pay her a visit!
A dish that can very seldom be accused of being too pretty is potato salad. It’s lumpy, stodgy and largely all one colour. Sure, we all love it, but it’s not going to win any beauty competitions. But we all know the story of the ugly duckling that became a swan, right? A couple of years ago, shortly after moving into our house, I awoke one morning to hear some bloke speaking Afrikaans within earshot of my London bedroom. Surely I was dreaming? But no, it turned out that by unlikely co-incidence the allotment closest to our house belongs to two South African blokes, Carel and Ryan (see – I said I’d mention you one day!). Fast forward a year or two, and suddenly Nick found that the new bloke to join his sports club was in fact Carel, one of said Saffer allotment gardeners – and the rest is history. We have now become firm friends, and there is a thriving barter between my kitchen and their allotment – I send out choc-mint chip brownies and strawberry & rhubarb upside-down cake to the boys; and in return they send bags and bags of salad, vegetables and herbs back to my kitchen. It’s a match made in heaven.
The last bag of allotment bounty that arrived contained a bunch of delicately beautiful flowering chives. These flowers are edible, just like the leaves and stems, and have the same delicate onion flavour as the leaves – they are also great for attracting bumblebees to your garden. There are lots of things you can do with the blossoms, including chive flower omelettes, or even tempura chive flowers. but I decided to keep it simple and add them to a potato salad. Usually, I’d add finely chopped onion but this time I added a load of chopped chives instead and finished off with chive flowers, turning the humble potato salad into something as pretty as a picture – and definitely worth pinning!
DISCLOSURE: I was asked by Pinterest to take part in the Pin It Forward UK campaign but received no remuneration for writing this post, and all thoughts expressed about Pinterest are my own.
- about 1kg of salad potatoes
- 4-6 heaped tablespoons of good mayonnaise
- a good handful of chive leaves
- about 8 chive flowerheads
- salt and pepper to taste
- Steam the potatoes unpeeled until soft enough to poke a knife right through them. run cold water over them until cool enough to handle, then peel them. Chop into cubes and place in a salad bowl.
- Rinse the chive leaves and flower stems and snip into the salad bowl using a pair of scissors.
- Add the mayonnaise, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Rinse the flower heads and pull off the individual purple flowers. Scatter over the salad and serve.