So university is the time where you have the time and freedom to start learning to cook. Unfortunately, after three years of university the most complex meal I made was a chicken stir fry. I have a dislike of ready meals which have more chemicals in them than a rave so my staple meal was either an omelette or a piece of meat, with veg and sweet potatoes.
Recently, I decided to begin learning to make at least one new dish a week, and the reason for this is because I watch a lot of Come Dine With Me and I realised if I ever went on the show that my guests would be given some tinned soup as a starter, a chicken stir fry as a main and a packet of Angel Delight for dessert which is just unacceptable. Contestants on Come Dine With Me get pissed if someone doesn’t make their own garlic bread so they would have a field day with me cracking open the Heinz tomato soup. Fortunately, I haven’t given myself food poisoning yet, but I have encountered some obstacles:
1) When you begin people will have little faith in you.
I know I do not come across as the most wordly person when it comes to food: I dislike most seafood unless it is mussels, squid or battered cod and I failed at being a vegetarian twice because I didn’t know what to cook to keep myself alive. However, I have faced a lot of prejudice when undertaking my culinary adventures. I’m cooking for my friend next week, and when I told someone they said ”I want a three day report of their health after you have cooked for them” like the chicken in spicy tomato sauce was going to be still clucking when I served it up. I also spoke on the phone to my Dad one evening and told him I wasn’t feeling very well and he actually asked me if I had food poisoning before saying ”Oh well, as long as it’s not Ebola”
2) The basics are the hardest thing to master
The supposedly easiest things to make are actually the hardest. I have had no problems make a sausage and bean casserole or lamb cobbler, However, I have tried TWICE making onion gravy and both times it looked like our neighbours’ cat had come in through our back door, climbed up onto the counter and threw up in the pan. The first time I will admit fault because I forgot to add flour so I can accept that the runny brown liquid with chunks of onion in was a result of my own incompetency. However the second time I had the recipe book out, laid all the ingredients out in front of me and I followed the recipe word for word and the end result was brown sludge with chunks of onion. It honestly looked like something you would step in in the park.
3) Pastry is difficult
When I first decided to make Toad in the Hole I thought ”This is a relatively simple dish!”. I mean Toad in the Hole is a northern dish so I didn’t think it could be that complex if Northeners can make it. Oh, how I was mistaken. I now have a new found sympathy for the Great British Bake Off contestants who have wept over their pastry. I knew the pastry was not going to go well when I poured it into the casserole dish; it said in the recipe book it should bubble around the edges and mine bubbled in the middle. After my Toad in the hole had been in the oven ten minutes the pastry had was all inflated like a balloon, but it wasn’t going brown like the recipe book said it should. I cooked it for ages but the pastry was still pale looking and not brown so I came to the conclusion that I had used too much flour or our oven was broken. Eventually, it browned somewhat so I tried it and it gave me a tummy ache. I put the rest of it away in the fridge in the unlikely event I wanted anymore later, and when my housemate opened the fridge he said ”What’s all this crusty shit in the fridge? Has someone been trying to make bread??”. I threw it in the bin after he said that.