Saturday, 24 April 2010
North Devon's Answer To Gordon Ramsay
THE dearly beloved has decided he can cook.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d like nothing better after a long, hard day at work than to come home to candles on the dining table and the aroma of a cassoulet gently simmering on the hob.
But bear in mind that this is the man who whenever we go out for a meal will study the menu for an age and always pick soup, steak and apple pie and cream. Other dining companions may ask knowledgeably whether the ceviche has been marinated in lime or lemon juice or whether the mushroom medley includes chanterelles and shiitakes. The DB’s most burning question is always, “What’s the soup of the day?”
Anyway, it was a Friday night when either he drives to the chippy in North Tawton or I get something lazy like an omelette.
This particular Friday night he called me from the pub at 7pm. “Don’t cook anything,” he says dramatically, “I’m going to cook tonight!”
What’s that I see, a pink pig flying in front of a blue moon? In 25+ years together he's cooked nothing more elaborate for me than beans on toast with a fried egg so brown around the edges that it looked like a giant mushroom. Oh, I forget. There was one glorious day in 1990 when he was on holiday and I wasn't. I got home to find potatoes roasting in the oven. Jolly nice they were too. Even so, I had to cook some chops and vegetables to go with them.
So I sit and wait for North Devon’s answer to Gordon Ramsay to finish his pint and come and walk over some water in the kitchen. And I wait. And wait…
I'm worried. Did I ought to cook a sub's dish? Something I can bring on if the main attraction is red-carded? I decide to have a little faith but not so much faith that I haven't checked there's plenty of eggs so I can rustle up an omelette if necessary.
He finally rolled home at about 10pm by which time my stomach sounds like the percussion section of a badly-rehearsed children’s orchestra.
So what had a slightly tipsy Gordon planned for dinner?
Fish and chips. But not fish and chips from the chippy. No, he was going to cook them himself from scratch. He opens the fridge and there hiding at the back are two thick cod fillets that's he bought earlier in the day. Raw, of course. He proceeds to find flour and potatoes and sets to work. I go and watch television with a heavy heart and light stomach.
Much banging, swearing and smells of hot fat later and he announces that it’s ready. He walks in the sitting-room with a plate of fine-looking chunky chips and some cod in batter. The batter is light and crispy and the fish perfectly cooked. I’d go as far to say that it was the best fish and chips I had ever tasted. I am astonished and delighted. I smile, looking forward to Friday nights being waited on by himself. I step into a fantasy world of jumbo prawns, steaming casseroles, duck breasts and stuffed sea bass, lovingly prepared by my own dear Gordon.
That was three weeks ago and since then he has been reading recipe books and one evening I even caught him watching a cookery programme on TV. However, not another meal had managed to materialise. The closest he's got to a Gordon Ramsay impression is the swearing.
Well, it's a start, I suppose.