Joking with some fellow foodies the other day we found ourselves on the topic of the now ancient TV show Friends. The haircuts (The Rachel), the fashion, the weird gestures and phrases that worked their way into common parlance (“How you doin’ ?) and of course the theme tune (utterly and totally brainwashing). But one of the things that we agreed was the most annoying was that the sofa in the coffee shop was always empty! Always!
Anyone who has been in a pub with a fireplace knows this just isn’t possible.
So, it got me thinking – what if my kitchen antics as perfect as a TV show? It would start with the cookbook. This would either not be necessary because I would know a great variety of recipes off by heart or it would sit open to the correct page on a book stand convenient to my designer work surface. Obviously I would always have all the ingredients in the recipe – even the obscure ones like Mojama that are impossible to find. There would be no compromising regular flour for ‘00’ or falling just short of the amount of butter required. Eggs, milk, spices etc would be measured out in individual matching ramekins all in a row. All the veg would be clean and healthy looking and I would chop it on a beautiful wooden board.
The knife would always be sharp and I would always don a clean apron before I begin. The pots and pans would be Le Creuset or Ruffoni and the gas would always light on the first click of the lighter. Cooking utensils would be clean, to hand and displayed elegantly. The, also clean, oven would be the temperature you set it on. Cakes would rise beautifully, fish would sizzle merrily under the grill and the extractor fan would remove all but the faintest delicious aroma of cooking curry. When finished the dish, I would, of course, whip off the still clean apron to reveal a stunning cocktail dress and retire to a candlelit supper whilst the quiet, perfectly stacked dishwasher did ALL the dishes.
But where’s the fun in that…
I prefer my kitchen full of ingredients of all shapes and sizes, half bottles of this and sticky taped packets of that. Veg that sometimes needs bits chopped out but is still good. If I don’t have the rapeseed oil required I’ll use the vegetable oil. I don’t have beautifully tied bouquet-garni of herbs – I have dried bay and left over springs of thyme and if I’m lucky some stalks of parsley. Most of my pots and pans came in the IKEA ‘starter set’ and my utensils are a ragtag collection of odds and ends. My pages of my cookbooks have to be carefully wiped down after my recipe attempts. I cook with friends hanging around the kitchen drinking wine and quite often at least one glass in broken in the process. I usual don my slightly stained apron half way though the cooking process when it gets messy and I’ve spilt something. My oven always needs cleaning and the oven gloves are rarely where I want them. The washing up is almost always, either on the drying rack or awaiting a washing in the first place.
But you know what, I eat well, I enjoy cooking, I make a mess and that’s the way I like it.