Friday, March 15, 2013

Cooking for 47 year old beginners

I have come to the conclusion, and not surprisingly it’s not an original conclusion, that there is a lot to be said with having youth on your side.  Basically at 25 there are so many things you can get away with panache and a flourish that elude one at 45, (or okay 47 which is actually a more accurate representation of my age as the Drama Queen choir keeps pointing out, my protests that 45 is a much nicer round number are completely disregarded.)

The bounce, gloss and charm of youth enables you to – in my case - wear large chintz dresses that give flounce a bad name, have bizarre hair cuts and experiment with perms, put on weight and take it off with what seemed like equal ease, drink ridiculous amounts combined with staying up all night and emerge looking radiant as the actual dawn (particularly in comparison to my night after persona these days) and cook strange and wildly impractical meals without guests turning a hair.

There are a couple of meals that stick in my mind from that era, the oatmeal surprise pudding I made for one Burns night called something suitable Scottish like Cranachan was a winner – in my incapable hands it took on a cement like quality that was the forerunner to a novelty dinner party game entitled Turn Dessert Upside Down, in a somewhat damning outcome pudding stayed firmly stuck to the bowl when inverted. Goodness what it would have done to our actual bowels if we had been brave enough to eat it.  The concept of dividing 5 small lamb chops between 6 guests was another star on the dining front and I feel sure youthful charm got me over the tricky situation of having to take soup bowls back into the kitchen and redistribute owing to a slight miscalculation on the soup to guest ratio.

I have continued to approach cooking with a fairly devil may care attitude which may explain why the burglar alarm that is linked to the house smoke sensor has gone off twice in the last week.  I have a mental image of the guys at the security monitoring centre, not to mention my neighbours, glancing at the clock each time the ear-splitting siren goes off, sighing wearily and saying “There goes dinner again”.

It’s not that I am disinterested in food – far from it, but in the way one is tone deaf I seem to have the capacity to reduce sophisticated recipes to mush.  Up until now I have always said blithely to Husband, “No one remembers what the food is like unless it is brilliant or you poison them, anything in between they just remember whether it was a good evening and they had fun.”  As a result of this philosophy I have always relied on friends who sparkle and entertain, lashings of wine and a certain bravado to get me through the dinner party trial by smoking oven.

However it is dawning on me that people expect you to have got your dress, hair, tasteless joke sensitivity and cooking a meal sense all together by 47.   I have of course developed a number of standbys that look far more impressive than they actually are and in some cases once they are decanted out of the Thai takeaway boxes, well we are off in terms of a gourmet evening.  It is unfortunate one of the mid life crisis prize winners is a slow cooked lamb dish – that I pinched off a brilliant friend and cook who has a wonderful food blog – and guess who’s coming for dinner tomorrow?  As it’s not Sidney Poitier, the lamb is off – and I am in recipe panic mode.

Come back lost youth – all is forgiven – and did I mention the occasion I invited a couple I had just met at a drinks party to come back to dinner and then discovered all we had to eat were two corn on the cobs?


  1. Coq au vin darling. Easy ingredients, bung it in the oven or slow cooker and leave it for hours.
    I tend to revive my tap dancing skills and ply my guests with wine to distract from the culinary offerings!

  2. ah my friend - even YOU cannot have forgotten the "Macaroni Bechamel" dinner-party Roo and I gave at New Beach Road....when I forgot to add the cheese!
    Now THAT was truly inedible.....we called for Pizza!

  3. Hi LRS - now that just proves my point - don't remember the non cheese Macaroni, but do remember lots of fabulous evenings. Pizza number stuck to fridge for the frequent emergencies on cooking front.