Sunday, November 16, 2008

egging on with pride

Can you chart the seasons through our blog posts? The excitement of spring brings a flurry of posts. Or at least a private love affair with asparagus and other long missed vegetables. Mangoes ring my bell at this time of year. But it doesn’t necessarily inspire me to write about them because I like to eat this kind of food simply – a piece of fruit eaten in its naked state, a fresh vegetable steamed or blanched.

Hardly exciting stuff to read.

Well it could be, if I got all food-porn about the experience. But time is short. I will say this only once and with a totally neutral expression. The SE’s family are visiting. Not-in-laws if you like. So it is a week of eating out more, or struggling to find a way to cook meals, which cover two ends of the omnivore spectrum.

Though it is time. Quiet moments to sit with the computer on my lap kind of time that is short. While the week before it was celebrations and other social occasions that robbed my blogging space.

So it is a quickie this morning and rather off topic.

I want to mention my dad.

Last weekend I called while he was cooking lunch and he’d got off the line quickly promising to get back to me soon. Half an hour later when the phone rang I asked what he had made. Poached eggs came the answer, followed by a ripple of pride, “I’ve never made them before”.

Now that in its self is not extraordinary.

But the man is 82 years old.

He’s a very reluctant cook. In his twenties he fed himself adequately as a bachelor in Wellington and London, in the chops and veg days of the 1950s. He had a few years in “the East” as well but I know he didn’t lift a finger domestically in that world, just started a life long love affair with curry.

Between the ages of 30 and 80 I doubt if he ever cooked a meal, other than adding water to packets of dehydrated food while tramping and one very memorable dish involving crispy fried potatoes on our once only family camping holiday. Yes, my father cooked one meal in my entire childhood. I remember it vividly, while mum made breakfast, lunch and dinner every day with little thanks.

In the last two years things have changed. Mum’s days in the kitchen (other than to create an Alzheimic kind of chaos) have ended. The man likes to eat. Frozen fish fingers and peas did for a while. But now he’s getting adventurous.

Poached eggs for lunch! Not scrambled or fried which is a much easier option for a novice cook but poached. Across the miles I’ve been beaming with pride. Even I rarely think to cook eggs that way. We can discuss the pros and cons of stirring the water to make an eddy before cracking the egg, whether to add a dash of vinegar first and the importance of draining the cooked product well before serving on toast.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here but it is opening a while new realm of potential dialogue between us here. The last two trips home despite repeated demonstrations he couldn’t master how to use the toasted sandwich maker. But now – poached eggs, the sky is the limit!

I know the things that I like to cook, despite their relative simplicity, are in a different world to his. I need to get my head back to basics, with ingredients that I don’t eat. He’s not going to become a cordon bleu chef but any ideas of what I can teach him, if he’s willing at Christmas?

…and I promise I will be more patient third time round with instructions on how to make toasted sandwiches.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Lucy said...

Mangoes. God, how I love them.

Why don't you teach him how to cook fish? I mean, fresh Kiwi fish?

Food doesn't get any better.

And you do know an awful lot about cooking fish well. Yum.

11:01 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Lovely idea Lucy. A fillet dunked in a little flour and panfried like mum used to cook. A dash of lemon, salt and pepper. That has to be easy, doesn't it?

3:07 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

Incredibly. And he's already got a love of curry...why not a Sri Lankan/Keralan/Thai-style fish curry?

9:42 am  
Blogger Johanna said...

There was an interesting post with lots of comments on 101 cookbooks last year - http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/001574.html which might have ideas.

I personally love soups and salads for easy meals but I know it is not for everyone.

Stewing vegies (and maybe meat???) in a jar of curry simmer sauce and serving with rice or roti is a nice easy dinner if he is a curry man!

1:46 pm  
Anonymous Dani said...

fried rice - such a good way to get a good veg hit
shortcrust pastry - with a good pie/quiche base the sky is the limit
stirfry - a couple of good base veg mixes and sauce combinations stretch a long way.

7:38 am  
Anonymous Duncan | syrupandtang said...

I don't have a suggestion AOF, but I really wanted to say that I enjoyed hearing about this. I know my own food relationship with my parents is changing and it's helpful to hear other people's experiences.

3:45 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Thanks for all your suggestions. I don't think he'd be up to a curry from scratch - but a decent jar of curry sauce plus browning some meat and throwing in frozen vegetables could do the trick..except I remember trying to show him how to cook rice last year and not getting very far. With roti though - stroke of genius Johanna :)

Writing this I've had another sneaky thought. There is a butcher in the next suburb he likes to buy his meat from, despite his new found love of going to the supermarket. Its about keeping this dying business alive I think. I might suggest he talk to the old butcher there about cooking.

Duncan thanks for that - anything that keeps the dialogue open between the generations has to be a good thing :) Do they share your love of macarons?

3:56 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

PS: Gail if you are reading this - I am NOT PROCRASTINATING - in fact I did a good burst of work today - red pen on paper editing is a beautiful thing!

3:57 pm  

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