The first night without my cook seems daunting. She’s going to be gone for a week. I walk around to the stakeholders at home. What shall I make for dinner? is my intermittent injection to return-home-from-work conversations.
“Anything” is never an apt answer to this question and never will be. In fact it is the best provocation for a war of words when accompanied by a shrug of the shoulder. For reasons yet unknown the response is doubly exasperating when mouthed by the male of the species.
In a classic of turn of events no war ensues this evening. Instead, a spirit of culinary bonhomie whisks our appetite for one another. Let’s make something together we chorus.
The library shelf is flung open and recipe books are dug out from behind the self-development repertoire. The chefs comprise two of us on the wrong side of 40 and one on the wronged side of 20. We strive to keep our discussions as succulent as those on Master Chef. From deep inside the Matt in us springs alive. When enthusiasm boils over adequately we march to the place of action each clear about their area of operation.
The kitchen is abuzz. Cabinet doors swing open and shut. The fridge heaves a sigh of relief as several residents are evicted giving her breathing space. Jars pop open, pots and pans clank in anticipation.
For that one hour in the kitchen our lives blend into a healthy fulfilling smoothie. We waltz to a gastronomic background score. The whistling cooker, the spluttering sesame, the sizzling jacketed baby potatoes, the beeping microwave, the bout of sneezing and coughing when the chilli flakes burn to death in hot oil. The sharp aroma of chilli vinegar adds the right amount of zing to the evening. The gentle brush of the elbows, a quick hug and peck when the simmering gravy acquires the colour and texture as described in the recipe. A spoonful of this and a spoonful of that lovingly make their way to my mouth for an expert opinion. The flavours burst on my tongue. My eyes close. I am locking the moment for life.
The otherwise reticent young man chats away as he lovingly pours the dressing over the crunchy greens. We are suddenly treated to a sneak preview of our son’s elusive life.
The flame rekindles as I glance at my man working clumsily on a juicy onion through teary eyes. On instinct I almost reach across to grab the knife and get it over and done with the onion. But I stop myself in time from ruining a beautiful love story.
Four nights pass in quick succession. The story repeats each night – the rousing foreplay leafing through recipes, followed by the indulgent lovemaking, and the fitting climax at the dining table.
I can now authoritatively say because it’s tried and tasted. Sometimes having a cook can spoil the broth. A family that cooks together laughs together.