We’re due to visit a friend in another part of the country.
Weeks before our departure, my friend showed signs of a panic attack. She sent me emails, asking: “What would you like to eat? What do you not eat?” “Are you a vegetarian?”
After reading my posts about dogs, she finally had a meltdown. She revealed, “I do have 2 dogs you know.”
Welcome to the British hospitality.
I don’t like my guests to be difficult, and so I wouldn’t like to become one myself. Be grateful. Don’t ask people to prepare what you want to eat. Behave like a pig: eat what you’re given. It’s the excitement about travelling: being a bit different from your normal life. I always tell my son that unless it’s medically necessary — such as if you have a nut allergy or if you have coeliac disease or if you’re diabetic, you shouldn’t be a difficult person when it comes to food. However, he doesn’t seem to understand this message sometimes. He and his father still refuse to eat some of the Chinese delicacies that I eat, like chicken feet.
Many years ago, I invited two Chinese friends for dinner. I knew they were very religious. They lived in a commune in London and they were vegetarian. Understanding that they were vegetarian, I spent the whole afternoon boiling some lovely vegetable soup for them, adding ginger, garlic, herb and spring onion to enhance its flavours. However, they arrived with bags of food, mainly tofu, in many shapes. They refused to drink my soup. I did wonder, why did they prepare animal-shaped tofu bites? If you are a genuine vegetarian, surely you shouldn’t even show any desire for animals?
Food with stirring desires:
They explained that they always brought their own food when they visited friends. They belonged to a specific sect of an oriental religion from Korea. They are more than vegetarian. They are not allowed any ingredients which are linked with desires, such as ginger, garlic, chilli and spring onions.
Though I respected their choices, I must admit I felt rather annoyed. You can tell that I’m not a purist. I’m very prepared to sell my soul to the devil in exchange for ginger and hot chilli.
Food is an emotive subject. My 80-year-old mum had been through hunger in her life, therefore, she could never comprehend why today’s people would refuse meat. For her and the older generation, it’s illogical to refuse meat, as eating meat would make you fat, and being fat is a sign of fortune and good health.
When a mathematician cooks:
At home, we eat rather well. My husband, the mathematician, loves cooking, especially when he’s stuck with maths problems and needs to find an outlet. The problem is, when a mathematician cooks, he is scientific and he would keep asking your opinions afterwards. You can’t give a simple comment as “Lovely! I really enjoyed that.” You have to comment on the texture, combination of herbs used, intensity of flavour, thickness of sauce, and even the presentation of food.
And, the mathematician will need all utensils and pans from the cupboard because, apparently, each tool has a different purpose.
According to the man, a saucepan is for cooking liquid, a frying pan is for dry cooking, a sauté pan is for cooking with a thin layer of liquid. When I cook, a simple wok will be enough to conquer the world.
For example, yesterday he cooked this chicken dish. The ingredients included tarragon, parsley, Crème Fraîche (you can’t just call it sour cream. You have to call it Crème Fraîche.) And he even added wedges of lime on top for decoration.
He also cooked this pasta dish, mixed with extra-virgin olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts. Though the food was beautifully presented, my son didn’t appreciate the nuances. He removed the lime, visible tarragon, parsley, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes from his plate.
Sometimes I thought, what’s the fuss of all the fancy cooking? When I cook, it’s because I have to, out of necessity. When the man cooks, it’s because he wants to create something, to have fun, and to use up all the pans.
When I visit my friend, I’m sure she will do her best to feed me well.
My Related Posts:
- When Janet met Tilly: an ebook
- Where’s Stockport’s new landmark?
- Stockport Air Raid Shelters
- What would you do for a friend’s friend?
- Milk in first with Earl Grey?
- Perfect tea
- Oxo cube: good or evil?
- Laughter and love
- The north south divide
- English in the north: dropping consonants
- Granny Liu
- How many ways can you view Tilly?
- Love me love my dog ? Part 2
- Love me love my dog?