Category Archives: Luck

Mince & the disappointment of a meal gone wrong: if you cook in bad-taste, your product will be plentiful in it…

Food is an important part of a balanced diet—

Fran Lebowitz

522756_10150808745566041_675659681_nI like my kitchen, always have— I’m in it at the minute. I’m close to the kettle so a nice cup of tea is never far from reach; I tend not to snack particularly, but if I fancy a hearty round of ‘wiches, I don’t have very far to move.

As it happens, I’m also quite partial to cooking. I have a few signature dishes that I whip-up every now and then but one night decided to cook a simple mince-dish: easy-peasy right?

I like to think of a meal made from mince like a bicycle accident— easy to do but occasionally hazardous to health. I’m sure that if time were no obstacle I’d add mince to my already brimming list of clutter which really deserves a graph of some kind. But it isn’t on my list, yet— it’ll have to wait its turn along with experimental mathematics, back-burners, high-hopes and the probability of inevitable things.

Anyway, I’m digressing because my culinary plan was flawed before I’d began but it wasn’t until the mince had started to defrost that I realised I had too few ingredients. No peppers or mushrooms or any vegetation for that matter— greens-schmeens, just details, a minor over-sight, I thought. I’d learned long ago that any delicacy, mince-wise or otherwise can be made all the more fragile by bombing it with anything healthy.

I like to think of what happened next as a kind of playtime— egged on by the uncontrollable childish regression genie that’s almost impossible to re-bottle once out. I had what I thought was the wonderful idea: I could use kidney beans and tinned tomatoes to make up for the ingredient that wasn’t there … and blending the be-Jesus out of them.

Out came the Kenwood and with it, my utmost to make a mess and a mockery of the most basic kitchen etiquettes … and blend. Not because it would improve the meal in any way, in fact I distinctly remember thinking, how horribly wrong it could go, but— because it felt sneaky, and after realising, again long ago that cooking was just a caper for grown-ups; that knives and hand-held mixers were really just toys: how could I not? I decided to add three whole onions and blend those too.

And then I found the garlic…

I do like the stuff, but since I was being typically over-zealous, I got a little carried away and started mashing it, adding clove after clove— mainly because I enjoyed playing with the crushy-handle-thing you use to kill it. I couldn’t stop.

If you can imagine the properties of freshly mixed cement, you’d be on the right track in imagining what I had recreated it in my kitchen. It didn’t actually taste that bad at first. It was pretty fucking bad, don’t get me wrong— I managed to finish what I served myself up, bat I did with the rest is another matter.

If revenge is a dish best served cold, then the best dish warm would be mince; I shudder still, recalling it.

By the following day all the sense of fun and wide-eyed joy I’d had beating my ingredients as though harbouring ill thoughts against them was gone. The tearing and shredding and the foaming at the mouth over the really good bits was a distant memory. It was all replaced with the disappointment of allowing exuberance get the better of me. You see, If you cook in bad-taste; without any doubt, your product will be plentiful in it.

Leaving it over night a couple of times however gave me ample time with which to pull out all the stops and solve it’s mysteries and in due time found inspiration in The Great Escape— if you recall, they needed to destroy the dirt from the tunnels and found they couldn’t— not one of their most ‘positively brilliant’ pieces of thinking but maybe, just maybe … I could dilute it? Wean some of the vast quantities of garlic in it to a more palatable level. If I couldn’t, I’d just disguise it…

I remember it was an idea which had me grinning at the myriad possibilities. I even toyed with the notion of filling up a couple of socks with grated cheese, placing them in my trousers and using my feet to hide the offending taste, but I abandoned it, worried about becoming just another statistic. I don’t think any of us like to think we’re influenced by the what we watch— especially whilst preparing meals in a kitchen during peace-time.

It was such a horrid waste of cheese…

My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.

William Faulkner

Yes, I am looking at your obituary now. Tell me, where exactly you are calling from?

Every man dies— Not every man really lives…

William Ross Wallace

_65300595_bodyline-1If ever I reach the after-life— and this really doesn’t hurt thinking about by the way. I’d hate to just turn up, be spoilt for choice or so unprepared I’d have to wing it— I’d like to think that I would trundle as opposed to walk from place to place. Trindle or trendle, I don’t mind. Call me a romantic, but it has an air of clumsiness to it— something, when it all comes down to it, I’m rather fond of. I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending what remains of whatever without even the slightest trip to boast of.

Anyway, If I’d ever find my self trundling across a beach with a wireless stuck to my ear— I’d hope whomever were in charge would have the wisdom to employ the right crowd. None of these shock-jock bastards or flash-pan prats who shout a lot and are generally mean. But people who already have the misfortune to be dead.

These are my thoughts precisely when I tune into Test Match Special during rain delays and listen to Blowers, Aggers and Boycs paint pictures and speak of the mothers— very talented some of them. Unfortunately, I very nearly spoil it by taking a peek outside. It’s can be grey, miserable looking and decidedly home-made. The birds are off doing otherwhiles and of course there’s the damp. I am not to be undone however— not while romanticising about dead people and green fields.

Back to the beaches I thinkback to the wireless. You see, I’d find the idea of owning anything other than a wireless when I’m dead a trifle distasteful. After all, what could you possibly want to listen to that your personal broadcaster wouldn’t have: he’d have wings for Pete’s sake— or jet packs or whatever, presuming ‘he’ was not a ‘she’ and that ‘they’ had passed all their necessaries before taking to the air.

My idea of perfection would be a live, ball-by-ball commentary of from 1932-33 Ashes Tour Down Under. I’d have Blowers in the box with BJ, Arlo and Fingo. Anywhere else of course, this wouldn’t be possible as Fingleton was actually playing at the time; but who better to describe his own batting?

Of course, you might say, it’d be easier to just go and watch the matches myself and yes— you’d be absolutely right, but time-travel’s impossible. Were it though, then this would be my destination one— so what would be better than to drag my favourites along to commentate. The fact that they’re all legendary drinkers and that Arlo would’ve had his wine cellar with him at all times, hadn’t even crossed my mind…

And then there was television

Or just the listings perhaps

The purpose of Jasper & outwitting superstitious dining practices with sawdust…

I’m a firm believer that we make our own bad luck—

We can’t just have it the one way, surely— it’s just not democratic…

418838_10151214975596041_1406077767_nI like to think of the purpose of Jasper as a blessing; one of wonderment— and for those of you who find yourselves caught short at the dinner table; whether it be over-blessed with company, or under for that matter— a Jasper is a handy thing to have at hand, since no one would wish an unusual fatality to occur to someone you’d only just dined with.

There’s only one drawback, it’s fairly minor, to a point— but drawbacks by definition, does not plain-sailing make. Jasper is a stuffed cat; not the most ubiquitous of items I know. In fact I can safely say I’ve never had the fortune of observing; or the misfortune of having missed one being plucked from the bottom of a woman’s hand-bag instead of a lipstick. I’m sure however, that if I live long enough— it may just happen. I know enough to know that these are bottoms that do indeed hold some strange, strange stuff.

The story goes, that a hundred years or so— I’m not entirely sure when exactly but it’s usually a hundred years or so. Besides, if it wasn’t it should’ve been that a group of hungry people were due to meet for dinner at The Savoy, but one of the party members couldn’t make it, so naturally, as was the case a hundred years ago when everything was unexplainable and spooky: thirteen diners remained.

Now, with ‘thirteen’ being a number synonymous with bad luck even then— as if they didn’t have the monopoly on weird already, the last man to sit at the table was sure to became afflicted with doom of some kind; and this despite repeated warnings that congregating in such numbers was ‘not on’. Anyway, the gentlemen took his chair, the waiter told to ‘shoo’ no doubt flippantly at the same time assuring him that he was well aware of the risks and so on and so forth.

A couple of weeks later however, when word got back that the chap had died in the most bizarre of manners upon his return to South Africa, it was decided that for whatever the reasons: should a party of thirteen meet and dine together at The Savoy. Jasper, the stuffed cat, would take a seat and have a place set for him in the fourteenth chair…

Hemmingway was on the right track when he wrote—

The road to hell is paved with unbought stuffed dogs.

But he was more into his cats with-many-toes, and would no doubt have approved…