Recipes for disaster by Trevor Plumbly
Making a meal of it
I’ve reached the conclusion (somewhat late in life) that celebrity chefs are a social disease. Like many people, I yearn to have a go and rollick around the kitchen, nonchalantly tossing exotic odds and sods into pots and pans, then presenting the creation to astonished guests. But if you’re three parts blind like me and ham-fisted, life is not like it is on telly.
It’s all very well for Nigella and Jamie; they’ve probably got half a dozen lackeys out back pre-cooking the stuff, while they ponce around in front of the cameras, telling us how easy it all is. I reckon that research would show that these posers have caused many a domestic problem; when the half-hour television feast looks and tastes like bad café food, there’s bound to be a plea for back to basics and anyone with half a brain knows that there’s nothing like culinary criticism to create domestic strife.
Personally I blame the French; they started all this rubbish years ago. I have maintained a reluctance to eat anything I can’t spell, and little harm it’s done me: spuds are still spuds, I’ve found, regardless of what the French call them. As a lad in boarding school, the weekly ‘toad in the hole’ was revered by one and all. Honest grub, created by a COOK: apron clad, of advanced years and uncertain girth whose sole concession to enhancing flavour consisted of salt, pepper and HP sauce.
What fascinates me more than their race against the clock is the manufactured charisma. Nigella combines a slightly faded lubricity with a cut glass accent that screams poached salmon rather than toad in the hole. Jamie’s shtick is matey bloke, which works well until he ventures into the exotic, at which point he moves from half mangled cockney to perfect pronunciation. There are others who even manage to get the odd four letter word into the lesson and there are even cooking contests, smorgasbords of stress and pathos with aspiring funny-hat wearers sometimes reduced to tears; all good stuff and nicely contained within the sacred half-hour (including ads). Even if you can avoid that lot, they’ll get you via the newspapers or the radio. Surely there must be something better for folk to do than bugger up perfectly good food by following televised torture. Having got that lot out of my system I am about to make lunch without, of course, the aid of Nigella, Jamie and co. Fried egg sandwich anyone? Cheers, Trev.