Category Archives: Cooking
“I cook to inspire my husband to pay attention to me.”
— Sonia Rumzi, Simple Conversation
As the quote above comes from a work of fiction, I am relieved to report it was never (to my knowledge) uttered by a real human being, though the fact that an author would even think it up is disturbing enough that it gave me pause.
I stumbled upon this little gem as I was trolling for snappy food and cooking quotes and was intrigued enough to look up the book, which apparently involves online dating, food and a woman so fascinatingly tragic she merits primary character status in a published work of fiction. It was reviewed by one reader as follows:
The characters I found humerus and charming.
Hmm, perhaps I’ll give this one a miss.
I do however, find the quote sufficiently alarming to issue the following warning: Ladies, if your husband isn’t paying attention to you (and you find that you give a shit), do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to get his attention with a well prepared meal. This gives rise to unrealistic expectations and sets a dangerous marital precedent. Instead get a bikini wax, put on some lipstick and a pair of heels and give him another chance. Failing that, grab the Doritos and shoot out the TV. If he’s still tuned out, trade up. I hear this guy may be available, and apparently he’s more interested in drinks than dinner. Perfect!
Three different meals in one night? This cannot be true. Doesn’t anybody remember the days of “eat that Swedish meatball/fish pie/liver and onion surprise, or go to bed hungry”? We all survived it — well maybe that’s a stretch. I’m sure someone was done in by Rumaki at some point in human history, and certainly more than one innocent child has been forever emotionally scarred by a plate of organ meats, but still, can it really be that there are parents out there who are actually going through the hell of getting three different meals on the table at once after cocktail hour has begun? How can this be? I mean really, making one decent meal a night is freakin’ hard enough, but three different ones? And if this is going on in the UK, where people are far more practical than over here in the land of Everybody’s Special, can you imagine what’s happening in kitchens across the US? Are Americans making five meals a night?
Now, I’m not entirely sure how I stumbled upon this article, but I can tell you this: There is absolutely no way anyone should be making multiple meals at any time or for any reason. That’s why God, in His infinite wisdom, invented cereal. Now, is Cheerios an adequate, nutritious meal? Not every night of the week, but it can easily be prepared by even the most the recalcitrant four year-old, it does not create much in the way of extra clean up, and as an occasional dinner it probably will neither kill nor traumatize even the spleeniest, most specialest child.
I’ve got to say that this article has really rocked my world. It may have been some time since I grappled with a finicky child, but I can certainly recall occasions when the little Slattern’s dinner consisted exclusively of rice and salt. On nights like that the only way peas made it into her body was through her nose, and let me tell you extracting them took some little effort. But whatever, the next morning she’d wake up hungry and happily tuck into scrambled eggs and apple slices for breakfast and no one was any the worse for wear. Unless of course we’d had to perform some nasal fracking the night before. (By the way, I have found that a little black pepper on the upper lip consistently produces a sneeze strong enough to dislodge event the most deeply impacted produce.)
Yesterday, flush with excitement at the prospect of the return of glorious golden summer, I went exploring in the remotest reaches of my closet for something that would decently cover me while allowing adequate ventilation in the unseasonably warm, July-esque weather of the metropolis. A skirt, a dress, even, Lord forgive me, a pair of shorts. Anything but jeans and boots.
The quest for footwear went quite well. After all, sandals always fit and it would be disingenuous of me to say my shoe collection is in any way lacking. My efforts to locate suitable daywear, however, were not crowned with similar success, and as I do every year, I wondered at the remarkable shrinkage that results when off-season garments sit around in the dark for several months. I’m inclined to blame the moths, but in truth, it’s those bastards Ben and Jerry and their asshole buddies at the Cupcake Cafe whose filthy chocolate fingerprints are all over this disaster, or more correctly, my ass and thighs. And so, once again, it’s back to the nutritional purgatory of the summer diet. This year, however, I’m dragging you along with me.
Recipe: Mussels in Garlic and Wine
So as you’ve probably guessed, I spend a fair amount of time sucking tube in the form of cooking programs. In truth, I’m something of a whore for TV cooks and will watch almost anything, so long as it involves chopping and stirring, and generally the more outrageous, out-of-control and outré the chef the better. Witness my love for Paula Deen. So out there, so over the top, so Southern — I just cannot get enough, y’all. Similarly, I’ll jack into YouTube and watch Mrs. Child, the Two Fat Ladies or Graham Kerr for hours on end. It’s like crack for me.
Imagine my excitement then, when my pal Joe Hoover over at Londonsurvival introduced me to the manic, magical, utterly soused world of Keith Floyd. Though no longer with us, the great Floyd virtually created the cooking show genre in the UK, or so I gather. Now, if you search on YouTube, you’ll find dozens of fabulous episodes all guaranteed to please. My personal favorite involves our hero preparing ostrich meat and eggs on a brazier in the Outback, surrounded by a gaggle of free-range ostriches, who are apparently oblivious to the cannibalism going on right under their beaks. It’s pure kitchen magic, folks.
But here’s the thing. The guy could actually cook, and most of the time he made it look effortless — and even if it wasn’t effortless, it still looked really fun. So here he is with a lesson in the preparation of mussels. It’s not one of his more outrageous episodes, but it is one of the more instructive. If you have questions about how to choose mussels, or any other seafood, there’s a vintage Slattern post that covers the subject pretty completely.
Hot tip: If you buy farm-raised mussels, they’re much less apt to be sandy and thus are less fiddly to prepare.
As I have previously documented in my cluttery, overfurnished, boozy little corner of the blogosphere, given even a glimmer of a chance, I would move into a hotel and eat every meal in a restaurant for the rest of my life. In a heartbeat. Alas, though we all have dreams, we must also live in the real world. As such I can cook, and of necessity I do cook; from time to time I’ll admit I even enjoy it.
Knowing how to prepare a basic meal is just one of those things a reasonably competant adult should be able to do, along with riding a bicycle, driving a car and swallowing the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle without going all sissy and gagging.
Now I’m not saying everyone needs to be able to rustle up a standing rib roast or les nonnettes de poulet Agnès Sorel at the drop of a hat, but really the production of a simple omelette or burger should be well within the abilities of even the meanest intelligence. Hell, Guy Fieri has built a lucrative career as a cook, and he can’t even figure out which side of his head his fucking sunglasses belong on.