We did not go over the top for Christmas…moules mariniere for lunch was about the high spot, though haggis and black bun made their appearance for New Year.
Nor did we go to friends for New Year’s Eve..so missed out on the cauldron of boiling lard and the deep fried potatoes, plantains and crisp cubes of belly pork which are dredged from its bubbling depths to be accompanied by salads and ice cold beer.
It was a real miss. I love the huge gathering of family and waifs and strays like ourselves perched on chairs, benches, logs and upturned crates watching football on two huge screens while the radio blares from the house and kids and dogs run around until midnight when everyone sings the national anthem and the fireworks start up.
But there comes a time when we just can’t sit up any more, so we stayed at home with the dogs who have now decided that they don’t like fireworks since the new neighbours moved in and set them off under our noses.
Yet although food did not figure greatly over the holiday period it is always there…the running sore of the household.
And why the running sore?
Because Higher Authority, now in a wheelchair and thus less able to get out and crack the whip over the whole finca, has taken over responsibility for the menus….
And when I say taken over, yes, it is a real coup d’etat.
My idea of cooking is to see what’s in the fridge and make something with it. When the fridge is empty I go shopping and buy what looks good on the day.
Shopping is now an entirely different exercise.
Organised. Disciplined. Controlled.
There is a list.
And that list is based on whatever food is being consumed in the foreign soap operas he watches on the computer when he can’t sleep.
We have gone through several phases…..
The Latin American one, while extremely trying on the nerves from the point of view of the soaps themselves which featured women screaming fit to bust, was fine on the food front. I enjoyed that phase.
Then came the Korean phase….a fridge full of kimchi and the dogs looking nervous…..
The Caribbean soap was cut short when he discovered that unripe ackee could poison you, which was a shame as our ackee bush was by then in full production.
The Scandinavian series gave rise to a vast purchase of varying fish to be pickled and smoked, all to be found to be unsatisfactory as not matching the dream. All I can say is that Costa Rica does not have herring or salmon of its own and its version of mackerel leaves a lot to be desired on the preserving front.
‘Marseilles’, featuring Depardieu, was all right on the cooking front…..
As was a similar series about corruption in Rome….I have recipes from an Italian friend which it was a pleasure to try again. I could buy trout to make her recipe whereby it is floured, fried in olive oil and then marinaded in orange juice and vermouth. I even found vermouth. At a price.
Currently it is Israeli…..luckily yesterday’s special gave him indigestion all night so with a bit of luck he will look for something else. If not he is in grave danger of circumcision by secateur.
Success! We now have a soap about life in an Argentinian prison. We still have screaming women (what are they doing there?), but here comes the locro and the chimichurri! I might even be able to smuggle in a salsa verde with the tomatillos I found when briefly let off the leash…I know it is Mexican, but it’s green and I might get away with it!
There is collateral damage too. When looking for recipes for the on screen food he is led into byways….which is how I ended up making a cake with a tin of fruit salad, flour and vast amounts of sugar.
It was so sweet your teeth would fall out just looking at it, its bottom was soggy, and it burnt itself onto my good cake tin. It is said to be Australian. If so, it accounts for the current state of Australian Test cricket….they must be force feeding it to the players.
Then we have flan.
I have various recipes…one for a flan in a pastry crust made light with whipped white of egg, the traditional ones…and now another has joined the repertoire.
It involves sweetened condensed milk, and vast amounts of cream. The recipe given cooks it at too high a heat, resulting in a lightly scrambled egg with caramel, and unfortunately it was greeted with delight, which has involved making another of the buggers, this time using yet another internet recipe for making your own condensed milk….
I cooked it on a lower heat and it is now in the fridge, awaiting the verdict of Higher Authority.
I was tempted to let today’s stew…a bastard version of moroccan cuisine trawled from the internet – fall into it, but I would only be faced with making my own condensed milk all over again…
Thank goodness that the Belgians are visiting shortly! Back to proper food and no more cooking from soaps!