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Friday, 20 June 2008

yum yum

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.
Sort of.
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.


Fennie said...

Oh Milla - this has to be your funniest yet. I was blurting out all over the keyboard just to read about meat and blackberry pie, leave aside your comments on it. F9 has been singled out to go far, that's for certain - for anyone who can throw convention to the winds and break free of the confining 10 marks out of ten by a margin of a trillion and a quarter shows both pace and creativity. I should give up now. Realise that you are in the presence of an altogether superior intelligence and humbly get on with making that blackberry and meat accommodating pastry. Ours not to reason why, ours just to cook meat (and blackberry) pie!

Exmoorjane said...

Have tears rolling down my face and the decorators poked their noses round to see what was so funny. If you hadn't photographed the menu I would have accused you of making it up.....
Mmm mm, forgive me if I don't cancel my dinner out tonight and race round to have that divine combo of chicken korma sandwiches followed by meat (any suggestion which type?) and blackberry pie. Just priceless.

Expatmum said...

I am SO with you on finding it depressing to cook a meal every night, day in and day bloody out. Sometimes I pretend I'm in a Jilly Cooper type novel, and other times I have a glass of pinot, but in general it has driven me to get a "girl" in once a fortnight who cooks me a number of meals - some we freeze and some we eat straight away. Cheaper than ordering in or eating out and I am a new woman!

Edward said...

Lovely picture of our youngest boy, together with our newest child Thermie, who is probably higher in the pecking order than me. I'll try to help tomorrow with the cooking, but don't blame me if I can't quite reach the sink from Bath.

lampworkbeader said...

Next time I've friends round for dinner, it has just go to be on the menu...'meat and blackberry pie'.

Preseli Mags said...

When you said 'cooking with children' I immediately came over all Shakespearean (but not enough to remember which play!) Boy and blackberry pie anyone? Perhaps not.

Duck and blackberry pie or venison? He may be a culinary genius yet!

Mean Mom said...

I didn't mind cooking, when I first got married, but I was never much good at it. My husband has eaten things, which I have produced in the kitchen, which I chose not to risk, to be honest! Then my lads came along, and started to criticise, and now I hate cooking! What is there to show for hours of hard work, in the kitchen, except maybe a thickening waistline, or a bigger bottom? I'd rather knit. At least you have something to show for it!!

KittyB said...

I definitely think there's some merit in meat and blackberry pie, as PM rightly put - game goes well with fruit, as does duck, lamb & redcurrants, chicken and cranberry, pork and apple, erm, ham and pineapple?
I sympathise, I'm cooking for 50 tomorrow but at least I'm getting paid. I am to other women what Expatmum's "girl" is to her. Only 'girl' is pushing it somewhat.

LittleBrownDog said...

I can see it now; Milla and F9 on a TV show not unlike a latterday Fannie and Johnny Craddock (anyone remember them, or am I showing my age again?) - tho' perhaps with roles reversed. F9 shows a maturity way beyond his years with his pithy observations - a career as a restaurant critic beckons.

Know just what you mean about that male voice related by blood or marriage asking What's for supper? Perhaps you ought to let F9 do the honours from now on - he's certainly got vision.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

He's not wrong is he with his meat and blackberry? I have been sitting here laughing away trying to imagine it and to be honest ..it sounds quite good ...something like a game pie with a layer of blackberries ....go boy go!

DJ Kirkby said...

Erm...I happen to think that meat (game of some sort) and blackberry in a pie would be gorgeous tasting... I do! Okay, ok, I'm going, don't shout! Come over Sunday and I will tell all at long last, I promise. xo

Frances said...

Milla, that was so much fun to read! I know that meals round your house must be truly delicious.

And to have son(s) interested in cooking is a very good thing. My younger brother J is such a fine, inventive, and modest cook and baker ... a very good credential when meeting a lady.

Yes, I know it is a few years off before your lad will be cooking for a sweetie. But now, you are a sweetie who can encourage his kitchen interests.


Bollinger Byrd said...

maybe for variety you could have chicken korma and blackbery sandwiches on alternate weeks!!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Ah now this one I did crack . . . got fed up with 'what do you want for tea?' Reply . . .'Food' . . . and then this was followed by the nightly drawing of teeth whilst I tried to get them to tall me what they wanted and if I just fed them without asking I got complaints. I got sick of cooking different meals for everyone . . blah blah So I filled up the fridge and the larder and said 'ok you wanna eat - you cook it.'

Robot Boy and Wildchild could both cook Sunday Lunches all by themselves at 12 and 14 . . and I have never had to worry about them starving when they left home. Now they come home and cook for us . . . sorted.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

You've got it all wrong Milla. I can cook, and well, because my mother was a neglectful slapper and I would have gone hungry else.

elizabethm said...

I definitely left a comment on here on Friday. Where has it gone? don't think you would have deleted me for being offensive because I was only admiring F9's palate.
My children learnt not to ask what was for tea and when it would be ready. Could just about bring myself to do it, just not be asked about it. I love cooking, just not refuelling.

Anonymous said...

Well it sounds good to me. I think F9 could be looking at a new career there. Puts the likes of Jamie Oliver to shame really. Cooking in my house is a lone thing, never done by anyone but me.

CJ xx

Potty Mummy said...

So how did the meat and blackberry pie go down at your dinner party?
(Though must admit it did make me think he might just have it mixed up with lamb and cumberland sauce -which, if you're F9, might be much the same thing?)

blogthatmama said...

Lamb and apricot, pork and cranberry - the boy's right, in my view! Hope the cooking went well - Blogthatmamax

Lucy Diamond said...

Oh, I laughed so many times at this. You are a legend!
Now... get Heston Blumenthal on the phone immediately to whip up some meat and blackberry pie!

ChrisH said...

Well done you for even trying to get them to cook. Lily and Rose showed no inclination until the day before they went to university and then we did a crash course in useful studenty dishes. Problem is (not that it's any problem to me, you understand) is that Tom is a damn fine cook and has spoiled us rotten. Long may it continue, I say.

Sally's Chateau said...

OMG, you're cooking for 20 and Kittyb cooking for 50, must make mental note to keep HL away from these blogs. The other night my creme caramel collapsed, this is the way we serve it in England I said blithly to the guests...

Blossomcottage said...

I taught eldest son to cook and very well he did it too. However it seems that it was all a waste of time. the other day I said to my daughter-in-law who is pregnant with No2 son. "Make him do the cooking for a change"
"You must be joking came the rather curt reply, he's no idea, I can assure you that my sons will be able to cook by the time they are 18!!"
There are time when I think I have live another life and its that one I remember not the one I am living now!

Lane said...

Soooooo funny. So many funnies.

Isn't it strange how a big box of cake mix gets them all fired up. Is it the photos? Is it all the little packets? Is it the fact that they can't fail? God only knows but put some veg out to peel and they're gone.

Hope your dinner party wasn't 'papper':-)

Lane said...

Soooooo funny. So many funnies.

Isn't it strange how a big box of cake mix gets them all fired up. Is it the photos? Is it all the little packets? Is it the fact that they can't fail? God only knows but put some veg out to peel and they're gone.

Hope your dinner party wasn't 'papper':-)

KAREN said...

Hilarious. Mine were forever asking if they could 'bake something' when they were young and I'd give in with bad grace (control freakdom)and they invariably made a big mess for me to clear up. Now they only drift kitchenwards in order to peer in cupboards and declare loudly that there's never anything 'nice' (translates as 'junk food') to eat.

Maybe a blackberry and meat pie is just what they need...

Maggie May said...

I hate cooking too!
Meat & blackberry pie???
My grandchildren are all picky eaters & I have threatened they will have toast next time I have to cook for them. At least they LIKE that!

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

He'll never go hungry! I love cooking but hate the drudgery of cooking pedestrain stuff every day. I cook big and freeze a lot of stuff for my husband - that way I am not tied to the kitchen every night.

Your son will be able to bring you home made meals on wheels when you get infirm!

family affairs said...

Great post - I am trying to be an inspiration to my children and serve lovely interesting meals but I fail... because I hate cooking and they know it - I'm going to try meat and blackberry pie because I think my children will love it Lx

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

i think you need to borrow my daughters. they are very keen cooks. the elder is a tornado in the kitchen and most of what she knocks up in her tornado, whirling with creativity and scattering incredients hither and thither, tastes a bit like it might have come thru a tornado. hit and miss, that kind of thing. last weeks tomato and orange soup was deliciuos. this weeks (she sort of gets a bee in her bonnet about one thing and we have to eat it and eat it and eat until i feign bare cupboards) gave us all roaring heartburh. A bit acid, she noted sadly. her younger sister is much more of a stickler for detail. and quite critical. she peered into my bread machine one morning anticipating fatly risen cosy loaf and instead got squat sunken damp flannel. ''there is something wrong with the bread mama'', she said, sniffily. I faffed around trying to imagine what. ''just look in the book, ma, i'm sure you'll find the answer there''. i did. i am more like the tornado her sister is than the serene DG she is destined to become. but i agree: boys definatley need coaxing into the kitchen. I entrusted 17 year old son with sunday's breakfast bacon. You'd have thought he'd won an oscar the way i applauded the end product. isn't praise the way to encourage them to do it again next time. so you don't have to?

Zoë said...

The blackberry and meat pie isnt as far fetched as you might imagine. Mother Nature who had commented over at my blog had invited me to view hers, and being the ever polite thing that I am, I duly called in, and was greeted by what I can only assume is a Tennessee delicacy; Pork Sausages on pancakes, covered in Blackberry sauce and whipped cream. F9 would surely approve?

Dropped you an email about well being etc, didnt want to blather that all here.

Thanks for the kind words though.

Zoë xx

oh! PS, your garden is looking good, love those acid colours.

Anonymous said...

That is priceless! F9 has given me new inspiration for my culinary efforts.... now where did I put the spinach? Maybe it'll go nicely with the ice cream?

Eve Redstone said...

Blackberry and meat pie, so you get the choice of which meat to use?
I too am trying to teach my boys to cook. So far we have had chopped vegetables, with blood, and the truly disgusting microwaved bacon sandwich at 5am.
The high (no...definitely low) point was the microwaved worms ...

DJ Kirkby said...

Ahem...next post please?

Exmoorjane said...

Ahem part two....where IS part two?

Ernest de Cugnac said...

I got tagged and I fear I have tagged you in turn. Come here to learn the nature of your assignment, should you choose to accept it!

CAMILLA said...

Think F9 could have a great career in cooking Milla, another wonderful blog.

Cooking in our house is mainly done by me, HL is of the fussy type, leave a mushroom out and it's like a crime. I love the idea of meat and blackberry pie, but then I do love the bacon with the jam.!


Angel said...

Of course I am completely organised and have a rotating 6 week menu planner attached to the side of my fridge....Hmmm.

What a marvellous son F9 is.
Should put him on the F word with Gord to do a cook off with the meat and blackberry pie.

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