There’s so much promise in an avocado. So much hope, so much unknown. It’s the ultimate fruit for the philosophy of ‘cut it and see’. For as much as the crest gently exhales under pressure, and the outside look unblemished, the interior truth remains a mystery (for a great piece by Katy Salter on the myth of ‘ready ripe avocados’, go here).

You won’t really know what it’s like until you’re half way into it.

It’s then that minor disappointments can be seen and tasted, all for them self.

I had naively hoped in a pink glittered haze before embarking on the endeavour of growing a human that I would be an unblemished avocado of a person, otherwise known as a magical pregnancy unicorn. That I would  waft through days, earnestly nibbling on slices of raw fennel, sip ginger tea and make occasional remarks about how morning sickness just isn’t that much of a thing (thanks Kim Kardashian).

I didn’t count on being able to make a list of modern wonders of the world in which I’d upturned the contents of my stomach (Machu Picchu, Panama Canal etc etc).

I hadn’t counted on 4 pm naps transitioning from a luxury, to a frequently required appointment to ensure I don’t wind up drooling on the couch cushions at 9.07 pm.

I had hoped that I would get the glossy hair. Instead, it seems to just grow very fast.

I’m now staring at this thing from the inside (and in fact, yesterday we did get another peek from the inside. A few minor tantrums from the stowaway, plus a negative blood group equals the local midwife service sending me to spend four hours in the hospital for bonus scans and some injections). And there he was, briefly appearing on a small  screen for a cameo,  waggling his feet and hiding his face- perhaps bashful at causing such a fuss.

To me, the last two weeks have been much less about magical unicorns. They’ve been more like speed dating all of Snow White’s less appealing dwarves.  Greetings from the fantastical land of itching, weeping , cramping, and snoozing. And then we have the headaches. Dark, thumping thunderstorms which would crawl from the base of my neck and flop forward over one eye, like a lazy, mean cat. I hadn’t realised how much of a medicator I was until the good drugs were taken away from me.

My kingdom for a nurofen plus.

Lest this sound like interminable bleating from a woman who is actually quite blessed, rest assured there have also been wondrous things that have emerged in this week when the stowaway graduated to the size of an avocado.

Just as the jeans were getting too tight, an enormous sack of maternity clothes arrived on my doorstep from my older sister, on the other side of an ocean. Drapey cardigans, stretchy dresses and wide leg casual jeans with a sneakily elasticised waist. Saviours, every single one of them.

I rediscovered Janis Ian. I have memories of my mother telling me she listened to Between the Lines and Nina Simone’s ‘Here Comes the Sun’ on repeat both while she was pregnant and when I was little. Now those women have shuffled their way into my current playlist, along with Passenger, Mark Wilkinson, Ingrid Michaelson, Ben Harper, James Taylor and Fleetwood Mac. They’re a cheerful jumble that keeps me  company during these long, cold London days.

I went back to my yoga class. After being shunted out by surly instructors who kept telling me ‘my insurance doesn’t cover you’, I was welcomed back to an evening session by a kinder teacher with open arms.   And breathe.

We devoured every episode of Kevin Spacey’s brilliant ‘House of Cards‘ on Netflix. Addictive, terrific viewing (think West Wing meets Revenge…)

And I developed a fondness for these.

These are the ultimate quick fix lunch or dinner (or 3.30 pm if you’re harbouring a very hungry one). The first time I made them was out of scraps and staples when we’d just back home after trying to get from Cusco back into a London paralysed by January snow. Tortillas, some crummy shredded mozzarella in a bag (shh) and peas are three things that are always huddling together in our freezer for emergencies. Throw them in a stack, (don’t even bother to defrost them first)  plop it on a panini press and add a dash of hot sauce. Four minutes later you’ve got a comforting snack, full of crisp edges and a soft vegetable and cheese centre.

To really make it magical, it just needs some fresh accessories. Take an avocado. Avoid the brown bits. Celebrate the good and cut it into small dice. Add the juice and zest of half a lemon, a hearty amount of black pepper, some diced mint leaves and a finely chopped spring onion/shallot.

Use a proper ball of mozzarella for the cheese and add some wafts of smoked salmon on the side if you fancy (though bacon, jamon or thick cut ham would also be grand).

Make it quickly and eat it slowly. And all the while remind yourself that even an avocado which is a bit mottled and brown is still a  good thing – and that at this age, believing in unicorns is a fiction that does nobody any good.

Pea and Mozzarella Quesadillas with Avocado Mint Salsa

Serves 2, makes 4 quesadillas

Equipment

1 panini press/toasted sandwich maker, or 1 large fry pan and spatula. Microplane/citrus zester

Shopping/foraging

1 avocado, cut seed and brown bits removed, cut into 1 cm dice
2 spring onions, cut into thin slices
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
15 mint leaves, diced
150 – 200 grams of mozzarella, either in a ball and well drained, or grated
1 cup of frozen peas
4 flour tortillas
Salt and pepper

Optional: smoked salmon, ham, prosciutto. Hot sauce.

Here’s how we roll

1) Place a tortilla on the warm panini press for 30 seconds to soften.

2) Place 1/4 of the peas and 1/4 of the cheese on half of the tortilla.  If the cheese and the peas have come straight from the freezer, that’s fine. Fold the top over so it creates a half-moon shaped sandwich. Lower the top of the panini press and toast until the outside is brown and the cheese is melted.

3) If you’ve used fresh mozzarella, be sure to drain any extra liquid that has seeped out  into the quesadilla and toast until crisp.

4) To make the salsa gently combine the lemon zest, juice, avocado pieces, spring onion and mint. Season well with salt and pepper.

5) Keep the quesadilla warm in a low oven and repeat with the other three (you may be able to fit two in your press at the same time).

6) Serve the quesadillas with the salsa and if you fancy a dash of hot sauce and some ham/smoked salmon.

Forty Weeks of Feasting

Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now  is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make the journey a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far.

Week 15 Orange, Polenta and Rosemary Cake. Recipe here.

Wk 14 Lemon Creme Fraiche and Parmesan Pasta. Recipe here

 

Wk 13 Clementine/Mandarin Curd. Recipe here.

Wk 12 Plum and tomato tartines. Recipe here

Wk 11 Sprout and mushroom gratin. Recipe here

Wk 10 Date tart. Recipe here

Wk 9 Roasted grapes with baby chickens. Recipe here.

Wk 8 Raspberries and elderflower spritz. Recipe here.

Wk 7 Blueberry pancakes. Recipe here

Wk 6 Lentil and ginger soup. Recipe here

Wk 5 Sesame Miso Crisps. Recipe here

Wk 4 Poppy seed scrolled loaf. Recipe here.