Wednesday, October 15, 2008
A LESSON to be LEARNED
My friend Kath in UK E-Mailed me last week regarding my blog, she wanted to know if I was going to include the awful meal I cooked for her and her husband many years ago, and strangely enough I had been proposing to that at some point, so this seemed as good a time as any. Here are my recollections of that day.
First off I could hardly believe we were talking 17 or 18 years ago!
We had only just met these people and I knew, as you sometimes find, that I liked them and hoped that we could be friends. I was delighted when one Saturday afternoon they dropped in unexpectedly to see us. Their stay drifted on and we were all getting on really well, my husband had recently started working with her husband and it was looking like the friendship could develop. I decided I would invite them to stay for supper. I had nothing planned but had an easy pasta recipe which would not take long to put together. We shared a couple of Gin & Tonics and started to get to know each other. Had another G&T as I remember. I then went to prepare the food. I checked off the list:
SPAGHETTI, BACON, HERB & GARLIC CREAM CHEESE, CORNFLOUR (cornstarch), CHICKEN STOCK AND FROZEN PEAS.
Everything was in order, so I put on a pot of water to boil and got started on the sauce. So far so good. I fried the bacon until crisp, added the cream cheese and mixed until it was smooth, next I added the stock, made a paste with the cornflour and some water. Time to plunge the spaghetti into the boiling water and while it was cooking I started to add the cornflour mixture to thicken the sauce, this seemed so easy. The peas I would drop in for the last couple of minutes, no problem. Or so I thought. Mmmm, the sauce didn't seem to be thickening, no problem add a little more cornflour, stir it in, take a sip of my G&T, still not thickening, a little more cornflour, a bigger sip of G&T, still not happening. Now I am stressing, I am trying so hard to impress these people and it is all going so horribly wrong. Only one thing to do. A LARGE SLUG of the G&T and serve it up and hope for the best.
I took the plates to the table and crossed my fingers. But luck was not on my side. What I had failed to do was taste before I served it up. THE CARDINAL SIN of cooking. What we had before us was a sweet disgusting pasta concoction, I rushed to the kitchen to see where the problem lay, mostly with the G&T's I suspect, as I had confused the cornflour with the confectioners sugar. OOPS!!! I could now only hope we could still be friends. To my utmost surprise Jim ate it all, and claimed it was delicious. He was still being polite to me in those days, seems they wanted to be friends with us too, but this really was over and above what he needed to do. We still has the garlic bread, and with some cheese and biscuits to eat we all had a good laugh about it. We still laughed about it for many years. Happy to say we became very good friends despite that day.
What did I learn?
1. Always, always taste food before serving.
2. Label everything very clearly.
3. Keep alcohol intake to a minimum before you cook, afterwards it is up to you.
4. Don't try too hard to impress.
So you will see from the photographs that I adhere very strictly to rule 2, #3 not so much and always to rule #1. I even keep my herbs & spices in alphabetical order. Anal or what? One of my daughters bought me a magnet stating
"There is no prize for alphabetizing your spices"
I happen to disagree!
As for what became of the recipe. I played around with it decided no stock was necessary for the success of the dish. If the sauce is too thick, thin it with a little milk or even water, it is only going to be a couple of spoonfuls at the most and will not affect the flavour.
I still make it to this day and never have had any more problems. Thankfully.