A late starter

How did it come to this?

I’ve never been much of a cook. No, not true, I’ve never been a cook. Up until recently, I’ve been extremely ignorant of anything to do with food preparation and highly resilient to becoming any less ignorant.

Up until the age of 17 my mum cooked almost every meal for me, thanks mum. Other sources of food included my grandmothers and occasionally my dad when the barbecue was dusted down.

Then I moved out and went into catered University halls of residence. Admittedly I didn’t eat much of the food laid on in there because the bulk of it was unfit for human consumption. The Kinness Fry Bar, The Pizza  Place , and The Jahangir did most of my cooking for a very modest fee.

In second year, I moved into a flat with a pal of mine who was already a pretty competent, and keen, cook – he made the majority of my meals for a couple of years.

Afer Uni Jessie (now wife) and I moved to London. In the first flush of our love Jessie took some pleasure in cooking for me and seeing how much I enjoyed what she made. So basically, for my whole early adult life I was totally spoilt and became completely used to having plates of delicious food laid down in front of me.

Things have changed a little in the last 10 years. Now, with two children to cook for, Jessie spends most of her day in the kitchen preparing little pots of pasta sauce, stewed apples, meatballs etc. The last thing she wants to do at the end of a gruelling day with the nippers is to think about producing some sort of grand banquet for us as well.

So I’m on a mission to take the baton and have, at the age of 31, decided to learn how to cook properly. Not just frozen pizza and the odd bag of pasta, but actual meals, consisting of fresh ingredients, requiring a bit of thought and effort.

It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be. I had envisaged making a total horlicks of it. I’d imagined burning, poisoning and generally creating inedible piles of slop. But, to this point, neither Jessie nor I have been rushed to hospital as a result of consuming one of my culinary creations.

Yes, I have made a few fundamental errors – for example, when the recipe for a tomato and olive sauce I was making said, “add two cloves of garlic,” I failed to use my common sense to work out this meant crushed or chopped garlic. I just lobbed the cloves in whole. That sauce was a case of – no garlic, no garlic, no garlic, oh my god…. GARLIC.

I also tried to thicken another sauce I was making with flour, added way too much and created something that resembled Playdough.

But, there have been successes too – a rather delicious beef pie and a chicken and choirzo pilaf stand out in my mind.

Today I’m already thinking about going to parboil some potatoes before putting them in the fridge. The plan is that later I’ll take them out and grate them in order to create a tasty rosti. God, what has happened to me?


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