Earlier this evening, I mistakenly described making risotto as boring, which it isn’t. * Z put me right by pointing out that, in the right circumstances, making risotto can be quite comforting. So boring it isn’t.
It is a routine, though. At least the early stages (the fun comes at the end, when you transform this soggy mess into something uniquely exquisite, or thereabouts): soften the onion, add the rice, then half an hour of ladle of stock, stir, ladle of stock, stir, ladle of stock – with exact timing and quantities, so you’re not even allowed to wander off and do something else. But you are allowed to think, so naturally my thoughts turned to breakfast.
Now that’s a routine! Everybody must have one. (Or at least everybody who actually eats breakfast.**) How else would we get to coffee time? I’m not suggesting it has to be the same every day, of course; but the breakfast routine is the default when any or all of imagination, energy and willpower fail. I won’t bore (ha!) you with the details of mine, except to say that feeding the cat figures in there, somewhere between the tea and the toast phases, and that timing (which I find is a key attribute of a good routine) has to be flexible: which keeps the routine from becoming a habit.
Which brings me to what I really wanted to say. Routines are good, because they can be pulled in to take care of unimportant but necessary business. Habits are bad, because they can’t be pushed out to make way for anything. The trick is not to let the former turn into the latter. Thinking helps.
* I will never tire of repeating my definition of boredom, which is wanting to do something but not having anything you want to do, even though I know I delighted (not to say bored) you enough with it years ago.
**Marco Pierre White once claimed he always had a three-course breakfast: a coffee, a cigarette, and a cough.