“Mum,” says my 12 year old son, “I want something like ice cream, but not ice cream. Using banana as the key ingredient. Surprise me.”
And for the umpteenth time, I silently curse Masterchef, which has led me into this hell.
I don’t enjoy cooking. I never have. I know it has to be done, because my family have to eat, but to me cooking is a chore to be completed as quickly as possible, much like ironing, or stacking the dishwasher, or lice combing my daughter’s hair.
I know how to cook, and I do make some dishes well. I cook an excellent lamb shank, and a fabulous roast chicken. I can make osso buco, schnitzel, and a variety of pasta dishes. And I enjoy seeing my kids and husband eat what I’ve prepared. But quite frankly, I’d be just as happy watching them eat pizza from the store. Happier, in fact, because there’s less to wash up.
Cooking, to me, just seems like far too much effort. It can take an hour or more to prepare a delicious dish, which is then eaten by my family in approximately seven minutes. And that, of course, is assuming that it’s eaten at all; half the time at least one of my three kids will reject it on sight, and if they eat it grudgingly it hardly fills my heart with joy. Then there is the washing up, which can take another half hour. I’d get far greater returns just buying a barbecued chicken and saving an hour to enjoy with my family.
Up until recently my stance on cooking has gone unnoticed. Do the minimum possible, offer the same dishes week after week, cook in bulk on the weekend to freeze and reheat, and when stressed or time poor, buy takeout. Suddenly, however, the rules of the game have changed. Masterchef has raised the bar.
“Hmmm, let me plate this,” says my husband, as I’m serving the dinner. Note that I’ve made spaghetti bolognaise. Our previous term for ‘plating’ spaghetti bolognaise was ‘shove it in a bowl’.
“You really should make more souffles,” my husband remarks later, as he watches some cooking show on TV.
“As in, more than none?” I ask, and roll my eyes. Since when did my husband eat soufflé?
”Can I make a cake?” my ten year old daughter asks one Sunday.
“Sure,” I say, and bring out the Betty Crocker.
“No, Mum,” she says. “Like they do on the show. With flour and everything, starting from scratch.” I sigh deeply. There’s my afternoon gone. And then there’s my son with his banana challenge.
“Here it is,” I say, as I present his dish with a flourish. “The key ingredient is banana. In fact, the only ingredient is banana. And I put it in the freezer, so it’s a bit like ice cream.”
He looks at it and frowns, but he cannot argue. I may not be a Masterchef, but I’m a definitely a master manipulator.
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