I know you have a dozen other things to do, but if you don’t have any in the cupboard, remember to buy a bag of white beans today. Then later – not yet – sit down with a cup of tea, or glass of sherry and read this. Next week, on one of the in-between days that thread Christmas to New year, put the beans in a bowl and cover them with water. The day after cook them, or rather let the oven cook them. But before you put the sage in the pan, don’t forget to rub it and wave it before your nose.

It is a bit late in the day to link you to my Christmas recipes, which are rather like our decorations, so from three places, some old, some new, a few precious, others sparkling, strung together differently each year!  I am a cautious enthusiast when it comes to Christmas, I plan, but due to my almost pathological inability to be truly organised, there is always plenty of room for improvisation!  It will all be fine.

Lookout for winking lights and the smell of clementines, listen for the music drifting from a radio behind the shop counter, keep expectations flexible, laugh, give more than you take, sing and dance at least once – even if it makes you cry, do something for someone without expecting anything back, don’t worry about having enough food – you have too much, read a poem, make a jelly, take yourself off for a walk’.

I used to pour scorn on this sort of Christmas advice! These days I try and take it. Also, if you fold and squeeze, hard, a piece of clementine peel right next to a candle flame, the essential oils sparkle and crackle like tiny fireworks, and the scent is even stronger.


On the subject of citrus, we have chosen a cover, a picture of oranges and lemons I took last winter. Not the one above I hasten to add – who the hell would put a sink on a cookbook cover!  I am looking over first edits now, and gathering pictures, mine and Nick’s, of Rome and Sicily, two places and two kitchens, while still writing! But I am nearly finished and excited at the thought of sharing my second book ‘Two Kitchens‘ with you in July next year.

Meanwhile Five Quarters won both the André Simon food book award 2016 and the Guild of food writers First book award 2016. Best of all it has made its way into many kitchens, and dare I say it, beds. In bed with Five Quarters – I like that. Many of you have let me know how much you have enjoyed reading and cooking – thank you.


I am sorry not to be writing here more often, I miss it. I will. Meanwhile my Guardian Column is weekly, and I know many of you read that. Next week’s recipe is an excellent and simple one for a beef and pepper stew called Peposo. So when you pick up the white beans, why not get 1 kg of braising beef for the freezer too, and clementines, don’t forget to buy lots of clementines, and look out for winking lights.

Merry Christmas and warmest wishes to you all – R



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50 responses to “wave

  1. Ian

    Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Keep writing as well in 2017 as you have in 2016.
    Looking forward to seeing your new book

  2. Guy Phillips

    Dear Rachel This is a joy to read. Simple pleasures at Christmas can go a long way. Your writing, recipes and and down to earth advice has helped make 2016 a very enjoyable and relaxing year. I look forward immensely to reading ‘Two Kitchens’ Happy Christmas! Guy

  3. Hi Rachel, this just arrived in my in box after I did your pumpkin risotto (well, squash in my case) for lunch, so nice timing! Feeling smug because I had already secured my Christmas cannellini bean supply in the pantry. Shopping today for the sweet and sour onions for Christmas eve.
    Pete .T.

  4. Thank you Rachel and I will follow the Christmas “advice” you shared! Once the great feast is over I’m going to make the Pumpkin ravioli from your last Guardian column. Really looking forward to the new book. Merry Christmas and happy new year to you and your family.

  5. victoria2nyc

    Dearest Rach, Thank you for all the wonderful recipes this year. I have a binder filled with KST and now make your Best Meatballs once a week. Last night I roasted big red beets, served them warm with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and sautéed some plain green cabbage in olive oil also tossed with salt and pepper, and that’s what we ate with your meatballs in sauce – so simple, so delicious, so beautiful. A rather plain combination that was way more than the sum of its parts – a most satisfying supper and a trio of dishes I will make again and again. I do actually divide the meat into twelve meatballs, and they are PERFECT! WE LOVE THEM. As I have been to bed many times with Five Quarters, I am expectantly waiting for Two Kitchens. Happy Hols to you and everyone! xoxo

    • rachel

      Vic – I hope you know how much your support, cheering spirit and cooking along means – loads. Merry Christmas to you, I hope it is warm and delicious and that 2017 is the year we meet – love R

  6. I’ve saved your bean feature from the Guardian…didn’t have time to read it yesterday. The Vendée is also a land of beans…mogettes and the wonderful demi sec beans that I’m mad for. I’ll be using mogettes in goose fat ..probably with duck ….have a lovely Christmas and thanks for all the enjoyment you have given with your writing.

  7. Dennis

    I continue to love your writing but don’t see it often enough. Any chance you can upload the Guardian columns each week — or arrange for a weekly link to be sent your subscribers?

  8. chuckw09

    You laid down the challenge. On Christmas eve we’re cooking lots from your 15th Dec Guardian piece: porchetta, lentils, spinach, mushrooms. The idea is also to please and not only include vegetarians… Substituting pumpkin risotto for the ravioli (saving that for another time when we have a machine). Plus a big green salad. In Yorkshire Dales with Storm Barbara due…thanks for the inspiration!

    • rachel

      Hello, I love this, I will be on hand for text/twitter help and virtual clinking of glasses, not that you don’t sound extemely capable – happy cooking, eating and christmas to you and your family – R

  9. Lovely thoughts and holiday wishes. I read your post while waiting for bus 87 to meet Carla for a stroll of Rome’s winking lights. Thinking of you. Peace in the new year. Xxo Toni

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  11. beyl@earthlink.net

    Like your stuff. I wish you would do more Rachel Eats. I don’t see the Guardian. And, yes, I always keep white beans in the cupboard.

    Sent from my iPad


  12. Just finished up work for the year, and so nice to get this piece of writing into my mailbox….framed my thinking for the next few days, it’s been hectic and I need to remember to stop and take a look at those winking lights. Love your writing, favourite bit of the guardian for me and looking forward to your seeing your new book.

    • rachel

      Finishing up work – cheers to that. New book – me too, I just need to finish it. Thank you for these kind words, enjoy the winking lights, happy christmas, warm wishes R

  13. This is lovely, Rachel. I love the ‘advice’… who wrote it? Hope you are well and dandy. Much love and Happy Christmas to you. Sophie xxx

    • rachel

      Sophie – ahh, I have great sophie thoughts form time to time and look forward to another lunch one day soon. the advice – the flexible expectations – a man called lionel, the dancing, a friend called Marta, the giving more than taking, a teacher called mrs hunt, the jelly me….lots of love and happy Christams amica, les get together in 2017 xo

  14. Happiest of Chritmases Rachel, so lovely to meet you this year and so lovely to see you back (?) here xx

    • rachel

      happy Christams to you sweet h-p, so glad we met this year and looking forward to more meetings, over honey and co cake – Rx

  15. Frances

    Hi Rachel,

    Never commented before, but I’ve been a long time reader, here, and now in the guardian, and of course in the book. I work in Carmelite house and spied you in the reception a few weeks back and it’s one of the headiest sights I’ve seen there! Just to let you know you’re much appreciated – merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • rachel

      Morning Frances – aha, Carmelite house….I am still getting used to visiting…next Time say hello, and thank you, this is lovely to read, happy christmas R

  16. laura

    Congratulations, Rachel, on the well-, very well-deserved awards and WOOHOO to the thought of another Rachel book. I know I, and those I gave your first one to, will love it.
    I read this on my phone from your Instagram link but treated myself to another perusal this morning just because clicking onto RachelEats was once such a regular and pleasurable treat. Your Guardian pieces have helped fill the hole. 🙂
    I wish you and those you love a healthy, happy year filled with laughter and satisfactions.

    • rachel

      Laura, laura, hello, hello, and thank you so much for all the woo and hoo’s and cheers you have given me for the last few years, happy christmas to you and your family I hope it is delicious and 2o17 the year we meet xox

      • laura

        Now THAT is something to really look forward to! Thank you for the thought. Anticipation is a huge part of pleasure.

  17. Paweł

    Congratulations for awards! I love your book (i wait for second). This is one of my favorites. I love that simplicity, lot of sun on every page, little stories. I love to know about meals that i cook. I miss you here, on blog but i read you on Guardian 🙂 Merry Christmas!

    PS: Sorry for my poor english 😉

  18. A wave and a smile, Rach! your book is one of the very few that I have carried with me, from gypsy place to place, as we endure the long wait on our house-build. 2016 has been a year of tumult, hoping for (but not counting on) a smoother 2017. All the best to you, V, and Luca. xoxN

    • rachel

      Hi Nancy, ah, it makes me so happy to know you have and enjoy the book..I miss you and the old blogging days. All the best with your build, lots of love and happy christmas to you all xo

  19. Carolle

    Merry Christmas Rachel
    I love your column in the Guardian, read it without fail & have made many of the recipes.
    Having spent many holidays in Rome over years, we always stay in aTrastevere, we actually got to the market in Testaccio a few weeks ago, something I have been promising myself I would do since I first started reading your blog years ago.
    Looking forward to your new book, My Kitchen in Rome was mentioned on the Italy Magazine website a few weeks ago in an article called ‘ 7 Great Italian Cookbooks’.
    Best wishes for 2017.

  20. Happy Christmas Rachel to you & yours. My ‘read a poem’ is always ‘Christmas’ by John Betjeman ‘ The bells of waiting Advent ring’ start our Christmas preparations

  21. I enjoy reading your posts in the Guardian – of course I do. However, they don’t replace your blog posts which I somehow take more personally, even though you may by now have almost as many readers as your Guardian posts do. Keep cooking, keep writing, keep inspiring us. Happy new year! x

  22. Julie Friedeberger

    Hello Rachel

    I found you in the Guardian a year or so ago, and soon bought Five Quarters. You’ve inspired me, and re-energised my cooking after several years of doldrums; you’ve sent me back to Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson, and introduced me to Anna del Conte. I love your recipes and your writing. I’m grateful: thank you!

    • rachel

      Hello Julie,

      What a lovely thing to read, thank you, and it just what a needed to read in the middle of a writing day during which I have not felt energised at all…You have brightened my day. happy new year Rach x

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  24. Right Rachel, It’s NYE. Fiona is off at home in Ireland with the boys and I’m about to read, ‘this’. If it’s baked beans, then I’ll be farting myself into the new year – but I’m prepared to take the risk!

    Thanks for your writing this year. See you on the other side.


  25. Hi Rachel, I just stumbled upon your blog by pure accident and I must say I LOVE IT.
    Keep writing as I am curious to learn more!!!

    • rachel

      thank you, It is not updated very often, but my column in The Guardian Newspaper is weekly , so that is a better place to check in, Rachel

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