It doesn't seem to matter how great my accomplishments, if all the pieces of my jigsaw are not in place then none of it seems valid in my mind. I'm a perfectionist by nature and do my best to keep that critical inner voice at bay but I do have very high expectations of myself which, inevitably, I often fail to reach.
I've always had the high expectations but in the past they scared me from trying anything that wouldn't turn out perfectly.
Ten years ago, I felt like I was failing at just about everything in my life and that fear manifested itself in very physical symptoms of anxiety that disabled me in such a way that I became agoraphobic. I took to hiding myself away, attempting to protect myself from pain, disappointment, imperfection, making a fool of myself, showing emotion etc. I thought I'd found a foolproof way to avoid failure, but it wasn't. It was a lonely way to live a life.
I've made massive strides forward since then, of course, but the alternative comes with it's own pitfalls. Acceptance of one's own flaws is not easy, plus there's the embarrassment when mistakes are made and the pain when things don't work out the way I'd like.
This week brought one of those disappointments. Life gave me lemons and so I decided to make a lemon tart and I got to thinking about how - just like cooking from scratch - life is messy, but I wouldn't have it any other way, now.
Sometimes there are sticky spots, cuts, burns, mistakes and even total disasters that end up in the bin. There's more clearing up than I'd like and sometimes it feels like a chore but along the way we get to experience a variety of tastes, textures and nourishment that we wouldn't otherwise have had.
When things go wrong I can often feel like throwing in the the towel but overall the effort and risk is worth it.
I've gotten much better at accepting imperfections in the kitchen but going easier on myself is an ongoing project.
Tarte au Citron
1 batch of shortcrust pastry rolled out to the size of your pie tin and blind baked until crispy and starting colour.
Homemade lemon curd filling - in a bain marie over a low heat, melt 110g unsalted butter with the juice and zest of two large lemons and 225g caster sugar. When completely liquid and the sugar has dissolved, stir in 3 beaten eggs and continue stirring until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon (the lemon curd will thicken further on cooling).
Add the hot filling to the pre-baked pastry case and leave to set.