Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Gastronomic Wizadry

Before we had our first child I had never spent an extended period of time with a pregnant lady.  It was an experience.  Obviously I am totally unqualified to be talking about a period of pregnancy but I am going to venture out from the safety of the shoreline and offer my thoughts as a passenger on this journey.  This has the potential to become a running series of posts, so look out for more in the near future.

I want to prepare you for what is coming by stating two facts.  Firstly, my wife worked full time before our daughter came along, and secondly, I am a terrible cook.  Really anything kitchen related is pretty much beyond me.  Once, whilst I was at home, after our daughter was born, my wife rang to ask me to get some mashed potato, and pre-prepared mince out of the freezer for tea.  What could possibly go wrong?  I had been tripped up by this sort of request before (just the day before actually, having managed to produce 11 sausages from the freezer just for the two of us) so this time I was determined that nothing could go wrong, and I thought I was on a winner.  Our daughter was in bed so I can’t even use her as an excuse for what happened.  

I managed to get to the freezer with very little incident, opening it also passed without a hitch.  Even locating the items was simplicity itself, a walk in the park, I thought, as the two tubs came out to go on the side to defrost.  I soon forgot about it whilst playing with my daughter until my wife got home and started on tea.  Except she didn’t, what she actually did was double over with laughter, which didn’t bode well as cottage pie is not an especially comedic foodstuff.  It transpired that I had not got out mashed potato and mince, with which a cottage pie could be created, the mince had come out as requested, but what I had thought was mashed potato was in reality a whole other cottage pie, masquerading as mashed potato.  There’s only so much one can do with a rapidly defrosting block of mince, but somehow my wife managed to salvage the situation.  I think the kitchen must do funny things to my cognitive function. 

This lack of ability in the kitchen goes double when it comes to actually preparing food, so you can see why it’s sensible that my wife does the lion’s (and indeed the lioness’s, in fact the vast majority of the pride’s) share of the cooking.  Added to which reason she does actually enjoy it, I am not there standing over her forcing her to cook for me, in case you get the wrong impression. 

One thing I hadn’t realised about being pregnant is quite how tired it makes you.  Really, I had no idea .  This was forcefully brought home to me when my wife would come in from work, prepare tea, eat tea and then just crash on the settee for the rest of the evening.  I hadn’t been expecting this, but I could see my wife was getting more and more tired in the evenings so eventually I thought I would offer to make tea.

The first obstacle that I ran into was deciding what to make, so, as with most domestic, indeed life situations, I turned to my wife.  She offered a suggestion, to which I politely reminded her that it would be me who had to attempt this culinary masterpiece and perhaps we should aim for something that was a little closer to GCSE Food Technology than Professional Masterchef.  Bacon roll I could probably do, Roasted pigeon, pommes mousseline, pancetta with peas and quince jelly I think I might struggle with, especially as I don’t think we had quince in that day. 

We settled upon something which sounded manageable, as I remember it was a simple bolognese, at which point my wife went back to lie down on the settee and relax.  It was then that I ran into the second basic issue.  I had no idea how to begin.  This necessitated a further distress call to my wife, who came wearily back in, set me on the right tack again and returned to her settee.  However, at this point the little common sense I had deserted me totally.  For the third time my wife found herself being summoned and tea was progressed further.  This time she decided that she would just wait to see how I got on.  Obviously this was too much of a temptation for me, it was like I had my own Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to question whenever I needed so I increasingly turned to her for every small detail, this served the purpose of managing to delay everything and throw the timings off so completely that the pasta was cooked well before the sauce was ready.

Everything finally came together and we sat down to eat a meal, the preparation of which, in theory, should have only taken 30 minutes, but in fact ate up the majority of the evening, and left my wife in an even more frazzled state than before.  Mission not entirely accomplished, but my long road to culinary competence was begun.  And now I can, with very little aid, boil and present an egg in such a way as to make it seem appealing.  Now, what on earth is pommes mousseline?


  1. You obviously were not paying attention when I was cooking my masterpiece on a Saturday stick to the simple things first like sausage & mash and then progress to sausage & mash never fails.

  2. You can always turn to Tim for advice! I've worked late tonight and he made mashed potatoes, fish in a sauce (freezer sort of thing where you boil it in the bag) and courgette fried in olive oil with salt and pepper. He did a marvellous job.

    1. Thanks Cassandra, looking forward to coming and sampling Tim's cooking prowess