Friday, 20 June 2008
For a long time now I have been basking in that Maternal Utopia, the land where I believe that I am teaching my children to cook for, God knows, the last thing the world needs is more useless males tumbling into it, come 18, unable to lift a finger.
I lie about it to other mothers and can imagine arguing the toss with St Peter come the day when I have to blag my way into heaven.
Meanwhile, happy in my falsehood, I can see Jamie Oliver giving me a toothy thumbs up and saying “Gotcha!” or “Sorted!” and Big Bad Gord ruffling my hair while growling, “Fuck Me! Nice one, Mil.”
Only it doesn’t really happen.
Because, simply and truly, they can’t be arsed.
It’s not for my wanting of trying, oh no, because it used to happen.
Once or twice a long time ago.
This is when I instituted the sadness that was Boy Wednesday when they were meant to turn up and show an interest in stirring the pot. I made it as fun as my inner control freak was able. Indeed there are even photos, witness to my moments of Merry Mom, of F9 (when F6) enshrined in clouds of flour. But when push comes to shove, they just couldn’t care less. Not when the option is going down the park instead, that is.
It goes without saying, however, that they are as capable as the next child of staring at the plate in dismay, and saying “What’s this?” Their sullen tones fit to chill the cook’s blood, but neither of them wants to peel an onion or get down and dirty trimming the beaks and knees from a slabby bit of chicken. And who can blame them, frankly? Not when there are staff, called Mother.
I’ve long mumbled – and please understand that I have NOT been to Afghanistan – that it doesn't get much worse than hearing a male voice, related to me by blood or marriage, asking “What’s for supper?”
My mother hated cooking and in retaliation I’ve kept up the pretence that I quite like it for far too long. I suppose I can fiddle with monkfish with the best of them, but the day to day stuff is the stuff of oppression. Very Little Red Hen am I, stomping round the kitchen doing it All By Myself while others lounge on sofas or play cricket. Miraculously, come 7 o’clock they all know to drift in just not when any chopping needs doing. Cake mix brings 'em running, too. Must be magic.
Moreover the treacherous children still maintain that their favourite meal is a certain chicken pie, their father’s signature dish, made maybe four times since time began and only once since 2005, (me doing the dull old pastry, unsung).
Quite why I bother in the face of failure to live up to such culinary riches, I have no idea.
Then last night I stumbled across F9’s “My Food Passport.” This hails from the short-lived days when F9 was the most reluctant Beaver in history (“Oi ‘ate beavers!”). Akela, a sturdy lass, had thought it would be Fun to introduce the Beavers to food from different countries, an admirable quest. The passport, a scruffy piece of much folded paper features a drawing of himself, the sort to muddle a fond parent since it bears a striking likeness to an orc from Lord of the Rings: fierce and with one hand more lobster than human, the other wrapped round an unspecified weapon.
Inside are 5 sections each marked Food, From, Marks out of 10 and Comment. I read on.
Greece fared well, I saw, with its Bread and Hummus. It scored an acceptable 10 out of 10 and was deemed to be “Just lovely” (for a moment I read it as “Just lonely” and felt sorry for it).
Leaping ahead, and finding favour was bread and brie, scoring an impressive 100,000,50 out of 10 for being “so nice and cheesy,” (go, France), but the AA Gill in him was less pleased with Japan’s offerings (Sushi) which scored a depressing 0 out of 10, and the stern comment, “It tasted like sick and it’s just papper” (sic, but of a different sort).
I showed it to him and it sparked a renewed interest in cooking. Something I embraced with off-putting enthusiasm. I suggested he prepare a menu. Which he did:
It’s got to be said, it’s a bit of a heartsinker.
It’s one to save for the grandparents methinks, sort the buggers out.
“Are you sure about that?” I said
“Yes,” he said puzzled, as he and Lolly so often are, at my deep stupidity. I swear those two share genes.
“Meat … and blackberry … in a pie?”
The chicken korma sandwich, toasted, with spinach, bacon, sauce and cheese, does not have me reaching for my apron either. But he loves his Indian food does F9 and back in the food passport his grading of pappadums and mango chutney shows his approval.
“So crunchy” he says, affording it an "Apprentice"-friendly 1250,000,0000000 out of 10. Poor Mexico, in comparison does not stand a chance. The Tortillas and salsa dip apparently “tasted like it had no life,” and gets a grim 2/10.
Meanwhile tomorrow I cook for 20. All on my own. 7 out of 10 will be fine. Sick, funnily enough, will not.