30 May, 2014 / General
I love being cooked for. Nothing makes me happier than watching someone beavering away in their kitchen making something lovely for me. I decided that Jimmy could possibly be the father of my future children when I was perched on a stool in his tiny kitchen in Leyton back in ’94.
It was around our third date. I was sipping white wine. He was rustling up a Thai chicken curry from scratch (in those distant days, Thai curry was exotic in the extreme). He worked within striding distance of Chinatown, and at lunchtime he’d nipped out and bought all these fancy ingredients. Lemongrass! Some kind of stinking fishy block! And coconut milk! (I’d only ever encountered coconut in macaroon form before).
The curry was delicious. I planned to marry him as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Bear in mind that my own fridge housed a lump of Cheddar freckled with mould and a bottle of vodka.
While I am a slave to recipe books (things tend to go awry if I venture off piste), Jimmy is an instinctive cook. He chucks stuff in, utterly confident amidst all the hissing and sizzling. I do enjoy cooking, but only in my own, cautious, instruction-bound way. And this is where we come unstuck.
You see, he can’t just let me get on with it. He hovers, with a worried expression, making ‘helpful’ suggestions. Sometimes he prods things and he’s always standing precisely where I need to be. The more keenly he observes, the more my confidence plummets. He is a Kitchen Lurker, prone to the following:
- Asking, ‘Does that need a bit of salt?’
- Casually giving a pot a stir, even though there’s no heat on under it.
- Shaking in random dried herbs which are not part of the recipe.
- Dredging up the memory of my Terrible Mango Chicken Debacle and honking with laughter (note that this happened 20 years ago and only because I was bloody trying to impress him).
- Saying, ‘You could add a bit of Tabasco to that. Just, you know, an idea...’
- Asking, ‘Are you sure it doesn’t need salt?’
- Having a sniff of whatever I’m cooking and looking slightly concerned.
- Adjusting the gas flame under a pan.
- Actually throwing salt in, without permission!!
- Remarking, ‘It’s okay, I’ll do this bit’ and muscling in – usually to fry steaks which, admittedly, I am always grateful for as mine tend to turn out ‘lightly poached.’
So yes, he is useful. And he’s a far better cook than I am. But, unless steak is involved, I do wish he’d take a leaf out of my book and sit back and watch and quietly drink his wine.
And no, IT DOESN’T NEED MORE SALT!