Thursday, 3 March 2011
LIfe As We Know It! Move Over Nigella!
I should have guessed that my days were numbered as head chef in the Dacosta household when my husband decided to laminate the takeaway menus and file them alphabetically for easy access. He had come to the decision that the children needed to have at least one or two edible meals a week. The fact that our family are on the Christmas card lists of each and every take away in a five mile radius has nothing to do with our constant usage, I like to see it as a normality of living in a small friendly village!
I had always thought I would be brilliant at cooking because I love eating so much. Being born during the Year of the Pig, I will devour everything edible. I have even managed to overcome my fear of the infamous Brussel Sprout. So you would think a love of food would go hand in hand with excellent cooking skills.
I had long ago persuaded myself that I was Nigella Lawson’s long lost twin, stolen at birth. I was convinced that my natural habitat was in the kitchen where I would stop at nothing to create culinary masterpieces, albeit all in my head. I am one of those people who insist on equipping the kitchen with every new gadget or trend. From the cupcake maker, to the Jamie Oliver shaker, I had it all. Maybe some of the items do still sit in the plastic bags that they were purchased in, but they are available should I encounter any catering emergencies.
Recipes books have long since taken over every flat surface within the kitchen, often making it very difficult to find space to prepare food. From magazines to supermarket recipe cards, each has found a place in my heart as I have always been under the illusion that my family should be able to sample a huge variety of meals. Armed with my spatula and whisk, I regularly delve into the recipes with great gusto convinced that everything I make will be edible and delicious. Unfortunately, my family were inclined to disagree. The years of cooking disasters still leaving unsavoury tastes in their mouths.
I will accept that a couple of my creations in the kitchen haven’t got the reaction I would have liked. I will still stand by my conclusion that peas are very tricky to cook. Though why my husband had to thread them on string and wear them as a necklace, I will never know. Hasn’t he heard of al dente! I also thought I was being original when I decided to vary the pizza toppings and use peas instead of sweetcorn.
I will concede that perhaps the Christmas turkey did have a slightly soapy taste to it, and I know a workman should never blame his tools, but I wasn’t the one who dropped it in the washing up bowl. And maybe it is traditional to have vegetables with the Sunday roast, but they didn’t look that edible after I dropped them on the floor and the dog started dribbling over them. And how was I supposed to know that lemon chicken and lemon roast potatoes were not a good combination, I thought they complimented each other beautifully.
I like to think of myself as an eco chef, making use of all the ingredients that I already have to hand in the kitchen. Cabbage cake is just as tasty as Victoria sponge and I am still convinced that fish finger casserole will one day become as popular as Irish stew! As many of you know, baking hasn’t progressed well in my house. Anything baked has a habit of disintegrating, hardening or resembling charcoal when it comes out of the oven. At least if there is ever a shortage of pencils, I will be able to make my fortune selling charcoal.
My cooking prowess has helped to increase my social status within the village as I am the only person on first name terms with the whole of the fire brigade. I now telephone them in advance of any grilled bacon activity which always aggravates the extra sensitive fire alarm. I even helped with the fire brigade’s campaign to ban chip frying. They have a lovely picture of me on their posters after being rescued from an overzealous chip fryer.
I still believe that one day I might be chosen as a Masterchef contestant, wowing the judges with my originality and spontaneity in the kitchen, and if Nigella ever hangs up her spatula for good, I will be waiting in the utility room to take her place. Until then, I will allow the fast food franchises to have their moments of glory in my house. Just watch out Kentucky Fried Chicken, your days are numbered!