Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Tales from the Fridge.

I have been asked to blog about food. Yes, I'm amazed too.

Already my daughters are spluttering - of all the people least qualified to write about food it must be me. Don't get me wrong - I love eating. I savour the finer points of fish as much as the next man or woman. I'll drool over a chocolate mousse. No-one would dare leave me with a plate of strawberries and expect any left.

It's just that I'm, well, a rubbish cook.

There, I've said it. But - in my defence - my daughters did not starve. I'm not the only mother whose capacity for creative cooking runs to fish fingers after a day at work. If there was time at weekends I might throw something a bit more exciting in the oven; it wasn't always incinerated. Everything was balanced, more or less. And there were no food-arguments, which - in retrospect, given how many rows some families seem to have about food, seems like an achievement.

And I did try. When they were little I took them to the farm (my brother is a farmer) during harvest; he let them climb on the combine harvester, run their hands through dusty grains. I took them to the mill where we watched the miracle of the transformation of wheat into flour. I even bought a bag, to make my own bread.

Not even the birds would eat the bread.

Cakes - I used to make cakes. I even, in a moment of rashness when my brain was totally disconnected from my mouth, offered to make a layer of wedding cake when a daughter got married. (I have many wonderful friends, one of whom recognised this as a cake emergency).

Now, living alone, the challenge of feeding myself has a different meaning. It's hard to get excited about it - which is probably why I ended up commenting on someone's food blog that I wanted to live in her house. She had menus for the week, including vegetables and sauces and sometimes even puddings. While I live on rice, or pasta, and whatever is in the fridge.

But - it's not so bad. I still don't starve. I buy my vegetables at the Saturday market. Pesto, Thai curry sauces, chillies - all liven things up enough to ensure that not every meal tastes the same. I make sure some protein is thrown in somewhere. Somewhere lives a yoghurt-god.

But when my daughters come - they suggest we eat out. I really don't blame them.

And surely it's okay to admit to being rubbish at something? Even in these positive, affirmation-drive times when we are meant to be positive about our achievements and talents and all that stuff?

(Next time I'll blog about travelling food. That's a completely different challenge.)


  1. My son comes to me every day to ask what we're eating. Reluctantly, I leave the enjoyable thing I'm doing to make it. I dread to think what I'd eat if I lived alone.

  2. I'm totally with you. When I was younger I lived on takeaways and toast. Then I married a chef, which took care of another ten years. Now, I have to do the cooking. It's not pleasant

  3. Excellent! So glad you took me up on my suggestion to blog about food! I'm already wondering what you do with the pesto and the Thai sauces etc.(I'm so obsessed with food that I always want to know what everybody else is eating!) I don't think you necessarily need to be a particularly skilled cook to have enjoyable food - you just need to have some imagination. And I cooked my share of fish fingers, sausages etc when the kids were small. In fact, I'm still rather partial to fish fingers and chips with tomato ketchup. Or a fish finger sandwich. With mayonnaisse...

  4. Sarah and Miriam - so relieved it's not just me.

    Susan - pesto often thrown into veges and pasta. Thai sauces, added to heap of veges and rice . . . tastes ok, in an everyday sort of way.

  5. Oh mother, mother, mother!

    You are right - you did keep us fed ok and you can cook fishfingers (even if putting them in the microwave until they go like leather is not the best way!) and you did - with assistance - provide me with a wedding cake (even if I did have to tell all my friends with kids not to touch it so they didn't get alcohol poisoning!) You even cooked for large numbers - the fact that I am not phased by this at all is I'm sure entirely down to Queen CDs and Christmas dinner from the age of about 13.

    And we don't always eat out - sometimes I cook in your kitchen, and you have even been known to cook in mine! (Although it would be much appreciated if you would get over your weird phobia of proper knives enough not to visibly shake when I pick one up and use it!)

    Yes you are a crap cook - but your daughters aren't and that has to count for something, right. And you are appropriately appreciative of what I make - even if you ask for the most awkward things at times (read the book to find out what I mean by this!).

    So - you continue to throw things together, and periodically cock up something more complicated (fish never needs to be cooked for an hour or more, ok!) and if I don't feel like cooking for all of us we'll let the pub take care of it, ok!


    PS. Although if you take something I've made and leave it in the microwave for several days until it goes off again I might not find it quite so funny!

  6. Anna - thank you. At least you appreciate my culinary ineptitude. Maybe you have become the fab cook you are as a survival mechanism! And you and your knives do ensure that I don't have a fit of the vapours at the thought of feeding everyone this Christmas.

  7. Susan Elliot Wright9 December 2011 at 07:52

    Jo, maybe you sacrificed your culinary skills so that your daughter could have them instead. That's what we mothers do all the time - sacrifice!

    I have to agree with Anna on one thing at least - fish never needs to be cooked for an hour!

    It sounds like it'll be fun in your kitchen/s over christmas!

  8. Susan, we do, indeed, have a lot of fun. In spite of my rubbish cooking!