My husband is completely in control of cooking in our house. He does not 'make tea' - he Cooks. He disappears into the kitchen, we hear the sigh of a beer can opening, the radio crackles into life, and an hour or two later he emerges with some wonderful creation (or sometimes fish and chips - either way, he still needs the kitchen to himself for a couple of hours...) So far he has mastered the art of beef wellington to chicken curry, tiramisu to frangipani, and almost everything in between (to the detriment of my waistline). It seemed that the only thing he had not tackled so far was pasta making. So, as requested, I bought him a pasta maker for Christmas.
It's shiny and silver, satisfyingly heavy, like a miniature mangle with a handle to turn as you flatten the pasta. I thought it was the perfect gift for someone who likes both cooking and gadgets. It even has lots of different attachments.
This weekend he decided to use it to make ravioli. What was the point of making simple tagliatielle? Where was the glory in that? He had ricotta cheese and he had tomatoes, and brisket. He disappeared into his cave domain the kitchen.
After he had been in there for a couple of hours, and enticing smells had been wafting through the house for some time, I wandered to the kitchen to find him. Into a cloud of flour. My husband was covered in it, as was the floor and the work surface. Every single pan we own was bubbling away on the stove with a different kind of sauce or filling. Husband was looking a little bit flustered.
Daughter heard noise in the vicinity of the kitchen, and stepson had also caught the rich smell of wine-soaked tomato sauce. They appeared as one in the doorway.
'When's dinner ready?' they demanded.
'Soon!' snapped Chef 'it's not easy, you know!'
I shooed the hungry kids from the kitchen, and as we left I glimpsed some squares of pasta on the worktop, which he seemed to be trying to shape into parcels.
Another two hours later, and Chef was at the dining table, hands holding up his head in an attitude of weary despair. After 4 hours, he had produced a total of 15 soggy parcels of ravioli, too soft to chew but lingering in the mouth with their pulpy texture. Me, Chef and Stepson had four to eat. Daughter had three. I was mouthing words across the table to her, while Chef was talking to Stepson.
'EAT.IT,' She shook her head and made a face of the utmost distress, as if I were asking her to face a pit of snakes. Or hold a boy's hand. Or do her maths homework.
'Just. Try. A Bit.'
Another shake of the head, huge eyes pleading as if begging to be released from torture
'Please, Mum. I already have. It's disgusting,.'
'SSHHHHH,' I hissed 'Listen, if you try some then I will give you a packet of crisps when he isn't looking.'
Chef was no longer distracted by Stepson, so I turned my attention to eating this, his first known cooking failure.
'MMmmmmm. Delicious. I LOVE this sauce, and the ricotta filling is AMAZING.'
'Mum. You're overdoing it.' said Daughter. The hapless Chef flopped defeatedly onto the sofa.
'Four hours, that took me. FOUR HOURS.'
I cleared the plates hastily
'Well, we all really enjoyed that, DIDN'T WE.'
'Where are my crisps?' asked Daughter.
We had fishfingers and beans tonight...
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