This weekend I’m in Sydney. This is not supposed to be an opportunity for me to brag about my fabulous jet setting life, just so we’re clear. In actual fact, this trip is less about where I am, and more about who I’m spending time with.
This weekend is about seeing some old friends. The friends I’ve had for most of my life. The ones who haven’t dropped by the wayside as the years have passed. The ones I don’t catch up with as much as I once did, but the when we do, it’s like we’ve never been apart.
And that’s the thing with old friendships. Invariably I forget to ask the questions about work, husbands, kids, in favour of just picking up where we left off. We get straight into the bigger conversations about what ever existential crisis we’re grappling with this week. Whether the universe is really delivering the way it’s supposed to. Whether world events are aligning with our moral codes and values. The really big stuff.
We don’t need to talk about small stuff, because we know it already. We don’t need to take the time to get to know our old friends, because we’ve known them forever.
The questions we ask of new friends are like a kind of detective work. We’re delving into their history (which we weren’t a part of), determining common areas of interest, looking for shared moral and ethical codes, working out what people we have in common. Anything to establish a connection, to build on that and create a lasting friendship. It takes work, both time and effort. It takes patience. It takes tolerance. We need to put our rose coloured spectacles on, all the better to overly appreciate the good in our new friends while ignoring the not so great.
Meanwhile we see our old friends as they are, warts and all. We don’t need tinted lenses, because we embrace the good and the bad. We love them the way they are. Our lives are so enmeshed that the less ideal aspects of either of us add to the richness of our relationship.
It doesn’t take effort. There’s no patience or tolerance required. The conversation flows easily, but silences are comfortable. We can be forthright, giving and receiving criticism in a loving and honest way, without offence being taken. We listen, and take on board any appraisal leveled at us. We review and digest and assess and eventually agree with the analysis of our shortcomings. They give us pause and reason to think, and ultimately we are the better for it.
It’s tough being a new friend. Being subjected to unspoken critiques without the relationship longevity to emerge unscathed. For the friendship to whither under the pressures of work, husbands, kids. To shrink in the harsh glare of scrutiny of limited common ground.
The common ground with our old friends is time, in the end. Time spent, time shared, a problem shared, a problem halved.
This is a standard roast chicken with an extra flavour boost. It’s a great dish to cook for friends, served with a simple salad and some crusty bread, for lunch or dinner.
1 whole chicken (free range ideally)
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups of water, plus extra to cover chicken
- Mix together salt, sugar and water together in a large pot (one large enough to hold a whole chicken)
- Bring to the boil over a high heat until salt and sugar have dissolved
- Remove from heat and refrigerate until cold
- Add chicken to the brine and cover with extra water
- Return to the fridge and leave to cure for between 6 and 12 hours (or overnight)
- Drain brine from chicken, pat chicken dry and roast as normal
Brine with extra flavour:
One quantity of basic brine, as above, prepared to step 2
1/2 onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 celery stick sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 bay leaf
handful of thyme sprigs
- Add all ingredients to the hot brine
- Follow steps 3 to 6 above, discarding vegetables and stuffing herbs into the chicken cavity