Louise Stern is a writer, artist, and a mother to a toddler. She is the author of the novel Ismael and His Sisters. Discover a writer's day at work and some of her favourite meals.November 11, 2019 5:37 pm
Name: Louise Stern
Erbology customer since 2019
I often work from home as a writer on various commercial and creative projects. No matter what it is that I am trying to put together – sometimes it’s something strictly to feed my bank account, sometimes it’s completely for me, most often it’s somewhere in between – I so anticipate lunchtime. There are days when I grab something from the fridge and eat in front of the computer, but I try my best to put the laptop aside and go down out into the not-quite-fresh-but-still- refreshing air of east London.
This has always been my way, but even more so now that I have a toddler and work days are the only times I am able to cook and eat lunch on my own. She already likes to help me cook and she’s a good ole eater, but mealtimes are slightly less meditative with her around! I sometimes cook and eat a quick supper after she’s in bed.
"But lunch with daylight streaming through the window is my favourite meal of the day."
I grew up vegetarian in Northern California and ate a minimum of animal-based products, but started eating meat again after researching a novel in a Mayan village in Yucatan, Mexico. It didn’t exactly seem graceful to say to these people who grew or raised everything they ate and brought it from hand directly to mouth that I wouldn’t eat the beef they were generously offering to share. Now I really enjoy having meat once in a while, but my day-to-day eating is still plant based.
For weekday working lunches, I usually put together a cold or warm salad if there are no leftovers from the previous evening. It tends to have some sort of protein, fresh herbs, seeds or nuts, dark green leaves, and be dressed with oil, lemon, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. I used to cook as part of my job in the studio of the artist and filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson, and sometimes miss the mad rush of feeding the assorted crowds of glamorous people that she would always assemble around her table, but it’s nice and satisfying only worrying about my own palate now.
Fortunately, I have such a lovely, friendly shop right across the road, World Foods in Clapton. They do insist on giving my little girl sweets every time she’s in there, but I’m slowly bringing them round to fresh fruit instead and her consumption of the occasional lolly or Kinder Egg is small price to pay for them entertaining her while I shop, as nearly everyone who works there relishes doing.
When I go there on my own, nobody minds my pinching, rubbing, and smelling. The produce is arranged so pleasingly but entirely without contrivance, with ever-captivating colours. On the rare days when I have no overt craving to satisfy and no recipe has caught my fancy and imagination, casting an eye over the assorted fruits and vegetables at World Foods will always do the trick.
In recent months, I’ve delighted in finishing my salads off by drizzling a luscious Erbology cold-pressed oil over. The widely varied flavours across the Erbology palette are always full-bodied, distinctive, and surprising, the perfect adventurous garnish, and the bottle feels so good in my hand – substantial, but not imposing. My lunches have been much enhanced by them.
As I write this, it’s nearing noon. What shall it be today……
Photo credits to Hedy Udkovich Stern