You know what smells really, really bad? Shrimp paste. Yes, I know, this should come as no surprise to me: it is made from fermented ground shrimps, after all. Also, I really should get over the habit of sniffing curiously at things which I know will be particularly offensive to my nostrils, especially when I’m going to put those things in my food. I used to do this with fish sauce, too: eurgh, fermented anchovies, yek (surprise, surprise, right?), then I’d put some in my dinner, and then I wouldn’t want to eat my dinner because it smelled of fermented anchovies.
I have just about made my peace with the fish sauce – I went on a Thai cookery course a little while ago, and it turns out that the secret to making Thai food that tastes actually properly like Thai food is to put huge quantities of fish sauce in everything. This is distressing at first, but the trick is not to inhale while you pour, and definitely, definitely not to immediately run the measuring spoon under a hot tap right near where your nose is.
Snow! It’s quite an event, here in England – put aside any hopes you had of a) travelling anywhere or b) having a conversation with anyone that isn’t about precipitation, and rush to the supermarket for essentials (bread! milk! loo roll! Quick! the thaw isn’t due until Monday!) before heading out with wellies and sledges to career precipitously down a hill towards what would be a busy A-road if normal service was not temporarily suspended.
Or, if – like me – the absolute last thing you want to do is go outside when it’s minus several and the vengeful weather gods are throwing tiny bits of ice down the back of your neck, you could stay in and make this chilli. For very little effort, you could have the best kind of winter food simmering away on the cooker for a few hours, wafting tempting smells through the flat. This leaves you free to huddle under blankets watching Jonathan Creek and laughing at all of the expensively- but inappropriately-dressed women getting out of shopping-laden 4x4s and shouting expert instructions on how best to ascend an entirely frozen 1:8 slope to their husbands (this happens more often than you might think, in Bath).
I know the ingredient list looks a bit long, but odds are you’ve most of it knocking around the house anyway (tinned tomatoes? beans? cumin? And don’t pretend you weren’t more concerned about stocking up with beers than with milk on that last emergency run to Tesco, because I won’t believe you).