By Geraldine Hughes
I love a good cookery program. It’s my default type of stuff to watch. From Ramsey yelling at hapless cooks, to the Hollywood stare in Bake-off disasters. The stuff that goes wrong makes me laugh the most. The tears, the tantrums, the cakes that collapse, the undercooked and potentially poisonous dinners, it’s entertainment at its best. You’d be very hard of heart not to be moved at how upset some of the contestants in the shows get when their creations flop. In the same position, I’d be more surprised if mine was a success.
I can cook the usual stuff and even have a few favs but nothing like the Blumenthal end of the scale, where amateur chefs serve up some amazing stuff that I don’t even recognise as food, and I wouldn’t even know where to start eating to be honest- foamy concoctions with unrecognisable components that bring cookery to an almost scientific level, but if it’s a competition, l’ll be on the sofa judging and finding some of them lacking, usually while eating something as complex as a slice of toast.
Occasionally, a recipe will grab my attention I’ll do my best to imitate the professionals and go and buy a heap of ingredients that I probably use once and never again and they get banished to the back of the cupboard to gather dust. I have a slightly slapdash approach to cooking, one day it’s a nice well- balanced meal, next its whatever is closest to hand in the freezer.
This wouldn’t have been a surprise to my long-suffering Home Economics teacher who would’ve noticed my distracted approach to her subject. In class we were paired off, each bringing half the ingredients each of whatever recipe we were working on. The day we were baking jam Swiss Rolls, I left it to the very last minute to grab I could remember out of the fridge on the way for the bus which I was already late for. Unfortunately, the egg I brought with me was a hard boiled one instead of raw so every time I tried to crack my egg on the side of the bowl, it bounced back into my hand. I did the only thing I could do to salvage the cake and sneaked around the class begging a bit of egg from everyone else, which was of course, way too much, and we ended up with a Swiss Flat instead. It didn’t stop us eating it on the way home from school though even though it was a disaster, and I did learn that following measurements in a recipe is actually important.
Food is a universal language though and probably why cookery programs are so popular. People are innately curious about what other people eat, how they cook, and why they do (apart from being hungry). A meal appetising or not, served up in any culture says ‘Welcome! Come eat, fill your tummy and relax, you’re part of the gathering’. Which is lovely in any language.