When did eating become so complicated? I have only to flick through a Sunday supplement to feel the inexorable rise of recipe-induced panic. I feel I should be shimmying through the week making macaroons on Mondays, tapenade on Tuesdays, wheat-free waffles on Wednesdays . . . you get the picture. There's an assumption that we are all chefs now, circumnavigating the globe on a plate, as comfortable with Thai curry as Bulgarian dumplings. And, on top of all that, we should be ethically spotless, growing our own vegetables, rearing our own sheep and reading poetry to our apple trees. Well, I'm not doing any of these things. I eat white bread. I eat Coco Pops.I eat fish fingers. So sue me.
When I'm not feeling guilty about my unsophisticated culinary habits, I suspect that all those smug, green-fingered courgette-growers and cheese-makers would quite like to plonk themselves in front of a rerun of The Simpsons with a tin of Spaghetti Hoops. They pretend their palate is refined, that they could tell the difference between an organic and a free-range egg at 20 paces, but, let's be honest, everyone loves a cheese string. As for aeroplane food, hand it over, food snob. You don't fool me when you say you loathe those perfectly arranged trays of bite-sized delight.
Let's be clear: I like it that we care about our animals' well-being, that we worry about being healthy, that we want our food to be tasty. But does it need to be more complicated than that? Do I have to make my own ice cream? Food, if scarce, returns to its functional state: it keeps us alive, and we are fortunate to have enough of it. So let's not get all doolally pretentious about it, too.
The word itself should help to keep us in check, coming from the Old English foda, which means "nourishment, fuel", not an opportunity to show off your new, home-grown curly kale. We eat to be fuelled, to get us through the day.
How lucky we are that we can turn that necessity into a pleasure. The poor animals are stuck with "fodder", a joyless chore, closer to the old word. Yet they don't have it too bad. Part of me has always quite fancied a nose-bag.