I’ve never been a very good cook, something to do with beating sauces anti clockwise, I believe, but it never made much sense to me. To this day I can’t understand how you can hold a wooden spoon backwards, but apparently I am guilty of this crime also. I’ve never been one for labels, so if my soup turned into a solid, then I’ll call it a stew. If my dessert turned itself into a liquid, I’d just give a different name. It’s remarkable how often you can call something ‘Surprise Fricasse’ and no-one is any the wiser. Never mind if it was overcooked, just chop off the burnt bits. Underdone, never mind, nuke it in the microwave, who cares if it’s a bit rubbery, you can bluff it out: “Yes, that’s right, I said ‘Goodbody Flan,’ it’s an ancient recipe to line the stomach of miners when they were down the pits, very nutritious.” It’s very handy for desserts that refuse to set, as modern appliances such as the cuisinart [translation = magimix] mean that you can just whiz it to a liquid and you have pudding soup, it still tastes o.k. It’s all about expectations.
These days, cooking and catering is so much easier. All I have to do is shake out a cup full of Goldfish crackers for the children and a bowl of fishy bites for the cats and I’m all finished. [translation = done] I figure that this just makes them all vegetarians by default. Whilst we are making great progress in the food department, fruit and vegetables are not ‘preferred foods.’ The ‘make your own packed lunch’ campaign has been a moderate success and senior son will volunteer to make his own sandwich at other times to ensure that he can use at least 2 ounces of butter on each slice of bread. At this stage, compliance and task completion are paramount. Coronary heart disease is low on the agenda. Thus when I hear a squeak of surprise from him, I walk over to determine the cause. “My sandwich!?” he bleats. “Yes, that’s right. It’s a sandwich. Well done for making it on your own. You must be very hungry to have made one now?” [Translation = less than an hour before supper] “But it is tasting, er, not quite right.” I look at the sandwich with one perfect semi circle missing because he didn’t get the wonky teeth gene. “What’s not quite right dear.” He pulls a face and bares his teeth, arching his back as he hunts for words. “It, it, it……I dun know, but it is tasting funny.” I peak under the top slice which reveals chunks of too hard butter, dollops of peanut butter and a bright red smearing of something that isn’t jam. [translation = jelly]
I glance back to the kitchen counter, the scene of devastation following his ‘cooking’ session. I step closer as the bifocals aren’t up to the task. I trickle of oil seeps from the up turned lid; Tomato pesto sauce. I rearrange my face and return to the table where he is on his second mouthful.