I've got my de-stressed chef's hat on now that the washing up is done; but if you'd seen me a couple of hours ago it was quite a different matter. I think there is a very good reason why no sane chef would ever allow me into his (or her) kitchen, and that is my inability to multitask when it comes to making meals. By this i mean that trying to make more than one dish at a time takes on almost nightmare proportions for me.
Take today, for instance. It should have been an easy - enough task to knock up boiled eggs and soldiers for the little ones whilst simultaneously stirring an aubergine curry with rice; whilst trying to chop and simmer a soup for the yoga chicks tomorrow, and keep an eye on some little chocolate souffles in ramekins, for pudding. This sounds to me much like the everyday task of most cafe and restaurant cooks - pleasing all of the people most of the time. So why did i nearly miss half the ingredients out of the curry, forget the smoked paprika in the soup and narrowly miss burning the souffles? Gordon Ramsay would have been effing and blinding as i trooped from one near disaster to another. Remind me to give them all Risotto next time - i can cope with one pan and a wooden spoon.
Dinner over, the children fed, I'm stirring the soup and listening to music. Over in the corner two little red Indians are sitting eating chocolate souffles in their wigwam and some sanity is returning to my world. There seems to me to be two camps in the cooking world - those in the business to earn a living knocking out fine meals quickly and ordinary harassed home cooks, and the kind of home chef (and I'm being very sexist here - usually a man... mainly because i can think of several who fit this stereotype) who see cooking as a relaxation activity to which they want to be praised and applauded in equal measure. They require a whole batterie of gadgets - turbocharged, industrial, architect- designed things, lists of ingredients that make no reference to the cost, and they expect you to wait until sometime near the witching hour with a hangover already in the offing for the presentation of that night's supper.After a suitable amount of praise has been lavished you will be allowed to eat said dish. Washing up is usually compulsory, the chef having retired in an air of smug satisfaction to a comfortable chair elsewhere.
You find inspiration for a lamb chop in the back of your fridge, using up leftovers of salad leaves and chard. The meat is marinated and grilled and the meat sizzles in a zingy dressing, wilting the salad leaves as it is tossed together. Simple one-dish supper. All taste for the buds and no frills. I make a promise to myself to move to a simpler, more vivid way of cooking.This is what i really want to eat.
Thanks for the inspiration,