We were expecting friends for dinner…..the dining room table had been cleared of papers, tablets, bills and blood pressure monitors….the kitchen harboured plates, cutlery, glasses and serving dishes…the pud had been made, starters likewise, packets of mixed nuts and maize crisps were ready to have their foil seals violated by the knife…
And then came The Intervention.
I am not always sure if the internet is a blessing or a curse.
I use it to check out stuff…but don’t have a lot of confidence in it…I use it for telephoning family and friends through Skype…and, of course use the e mail and blogging functions.
My husband uses it to encourage his enthusiasms.
We have undergone a number of these enthusiasms in our time, notably kitchen gadgets…but just lately watches which don’t work but which seem to cost a fortune if the customs catches them in transit have been in favour…taking over from bitter almond kernels, seeds from India which arrive in matchboxes and sprout into alarming monstrosities, and, of course, socks.
But, revenons a nos moutons….
I was just sorting out the veg and the main course when suddenly my big saucepan was confiscated.
He had found the lees of the banana wine which I had planned to dump on the compost heap and had…thanks to the internet…decided to make Marmite.
Previously we could buy Marmite at the Queen’s birthday party at the British Embassy…but the new very PC ambassador doesn’t want to continue the tradition….
So we are dependent on visitors for supplies. Unless we want to fly to Miami and I am blowed if, even for Marmite, I will enter the hell that is an American airport with its bullying staff and thieving baggage handlers….not to speak of paranoid immigration officers and customs officials intent on confiscating the ingredients of my picnic.
I have been sorely tempted to thrust a liquorice stick into an orange and mark it BOMB in felt tip pen….but they have no sense of humour and would inevitably take it amiss.
The Belgian visitors are exemplary…not only do we get Belgian smoked fish, the best chocolate in the world and cheese that would knock your socks off but they ransack the English Shop for Stilton, pork pies and, of course, Marmite.
But no Belgian visitors are due for another year and the supplies brought by our last visitor from London will run out before the next batch arrive from Europe.
Though I shall ask the visitor coming from South Africa if Marmite is available in Cape Town….
So, passing the number of jars in review, husband had grown alarmed and had consulted the internet.
Which had supplied the answer.
Yeast….the wine lees.
And my saucepan.
Chef assumes the controls.
An area of the work surface is cleared….carrots, onions and celery commandeered from my prep area, chopped and put on to boil….
I find a smaller saucepan, pick out more veg, and find a corner of the stove to blanch them….
Where’s the funnel? I want to pour off the bit of wine on the top.
Pause for rummagings in the cupboard under the sink as things best left undisturbed emerge blinking into the light.
Why do you keep the souffle dishes in here?
Further pause while souffle dishes are removed to the cupboard where I keep my dry goods.
I seize the moment to drain my veg and run the cold water over them.
Tap turned off.
Don’t get water in my yeast!
Veg rescued and removed to be tied up in chive ribbons before going into the fridge.
Wine poured off and drunk.
Why don’t you leave the wine on the lees longer…this is much better….
Smaller saucepan seized, put on the stove and the lees poured into it.
Just give it a stir from time to time…don’t want it sticking.
Technical details attended to he retires to the balcony.
I now have two saucepans in use and two gas rings. I have dinner to prepare. One involving a few pots and pans.
And I mustn’t forget to stir the lees which look a bit like the estuary of the Amazon on a windy day.
Or let the assorted veg boil dry….
The clock is ticking.
Where’s the colander?
More rummaging in the cupboard under the sink.
Why do you keep this conical strainer in here?
Pause while the chinois is removed to the cupboard where I keep the spices.
The colander is placed over the saucepan containing the lees and the veg water poured into it.
I thought you didn’t want water in the yeast….
This is stock.
I rescue the pan, put the veg aside for the dogs, and put on water to skin my tomatoes.
All is returning to normal….tomatoes skinned, garlic cloves ready to go, chicken cut into portions, butter in the freezer for the sauce….
Table laid, I retire to the shower.
A head round the door.
Aren’t you stirring the yeast?
I reply that as the shower operates on water, not stock, I had thought it unwise to bring the saucepan in with me.
Do I have to do everything? Why is it that I’m the one who has to worry about when we run out of Marmite……
Chef retires to stir the yeast.
Cleaned up, dressed and aproned (I am a true muckworm when it comes to splashes and stains) I return to the kitchen.
Chef retires to the shower.
Progress is made. I am up with the clock.
Where are my socks?
I had, unforgivably, moved them to a drawer in the new wardrobe without leaving a trail of arrows pointing there from their previous abode.
The estuary of the Amazon now looks as if the tide is going out….
Duly socked…if only…Chef emerges.
Are you stirring it?
Our friends arrive….the mud of the Amazon is removed from the heat and an enjoyable evening begins.
It is while I am turning in circles wondering where my conical strainer had gone…ah yes, of course, in with the spices…. that I hear Chef informing our friends that he had spent the afternoon making Marmite.
Being Costa Rican, they are not familiar with this nectar of the gods so he comes in to take an opened jar and a couple of spoons to give samples.
As I whisk the butter into the strained sauce I hear the voice of Eduardo….
And you spent all afternoon making this?