I know I’m not a good cook. I know I’m not even a bad cook. I am a stunningly awful cook who should never be allowed near a kitchen. Everything I touch turns to black sludge, or, if I’m lucky, grey swill.
I watch cooking shows and admire the dishes of perfection that are presented like holy relics after just twenty minutes of seamless effort and I think, Hey, that looks easy. Even I could do that. And yet, three hours and twelve soiled pans later, my own presentation remains stubbornly and suspiciously like dog sick.
But my beautiful family smile and tell me how delectable the meal is as they try to down it, hoping I miss the fact that they are holding hands under the table for strength.
“Maybe you set your goals too high,” says my husband gently as he cracks the top off an almost raw egg. “I mean, maybe boiled eggs and toast soldiers should be just toast?”
“I love toast!” says my daughter. “Well, sometimes I do. At least, I do when Dad makes it.”
I pout at her and look down at my own toast. “It’s black.”
“Not uniformly,” he says. He looks down at his own. “Well, maybe it’s just not your thing. Maybe you could try a sport or something.”
But I don’t give up that easily.
Determined to change this usual dinner pageantry of forced smiles, gagging, and trips to the wheelie bin, I decided to invest in a culinary skills video. I have secretly viewed the episodes, attempted the recipes and the destroyed the evidence by buying new pots and burying the old ones before anyone returned home.
And gradually, my cooking has improved! Why, just last week there was a definite green colour on the plate, and even a hint of brown. I mean, it wasn’t exactly Jamie Oliver, but it wasn’t dog sick either. I was so proud. But after a few non-committal shrugs and some soft gagging sounds around the table, my pride has taken a serious nose-dive. So I have decided to pull something out of the bag or die trying.
I worked on a plan all day and initiated its seamless execution only moments after I arrived home from work. By the time everyone was seated at the table, I had everything complete, and was grinning from ear to ear. The family stared at their empty plates, and then at me, question in their eyes.
And just as they were getting concerned at my apparent lack of concern for their bellies, it happened.
A sharp rap on the door.
As the scent of freshly cooked pizza filled the house, my husband breathed silent thanks to the ceiling, and my daughter hugged me and said, “I knew you could do it, Mum.”
Told you my cooking has improved.