OODLES AND DOLLOPS!
I used to love watching American Idol on TV. This is no longer telecast, so I stopped obsessing. It used to be a major calamity if I missed a single episode, and to avert disaster I would watch the repeat from 2 to 3 a.m. It meant I was like a zombie shuffling around the next day.
Now I’m fascinated with the many cookery programmes which are telecast daily. The popular ones are the competitive shows. Various bits of advice are shouted out to the contestants, even though we are well aware they can’t possibly follow our instructions. You can see they are running against the clock, and sometimes they seem to have no common sense. We can feel their tension, hence the shouted commentary! Sometimes the contestants have to go to a farm to pick out their ingredients, and that can be pretty tiring. We urban folk are normally used to walk into an air conditioned supermarket where everything is beautifully laid out on organised shelves in separate sections. Usually the best products are displayed, but here you have to judge if it is ready to be picked and cooked. There is a time limit too, so you don’t really have the time to dilly dally as you have to dash back and start cooking.
I guess they have a rough idea of what they would cook for each level of the competition, and then adapt with what they are given. Well, that’s what I would do. But some of them try out really weird combinations that they haven’t tried out earlier, and I think that’s really foolish.
Also, they have to produce something not very simple but not try to be too elaborate either or they would run short of time. Most of these dishes are good to be made up for a restaurant, certainly not for everyday cooking. But then, look at us, our local food is so elaborate, but still we doggedly keep on preparing it. Well, it tastes jolly good! Anyway, we watch in eager anticipation as each judge takes a bite of a dish and watch their expressions carefully to see if they approve of it or not. They are all reputed personalities in the food business, so their comments are usually valid and useful. Since I do quite a bit of cooking myself, the kids have grown up with the idea that every meal has to taste really good. Even a substandard breakfast is frowned upon. When they were in school, they would disdainfully reject all the snacks I bought from various food outlets saying they were tasteless. So I used to labouriously produce their snacks, and then what do you think, they complained that they were cold and soggy by the time they got to eat them. So finally I gave them money to buy stuff from the school canteen, though they outgrew that too.
Their friends still look forward to coming over here for a meal as they know it will be something different, since I’m an experimenter. Lots of them said when they were away in University, they would be wistfully thinking of my food as they munched the tasteless food in whatever country. I still have to plan out every meal, as my cook has no imagination and produces the same things over and over again. I have to think of something for the girls’ lunches for office too, as they refuse to take rice and curry because they say they feel drowsy and can’t work after eating it. I’m grudgingly allowed to give them rice and curry on the weekends and on Thursdays. Yessir, we aim to please!
There is a huge array of ingredients available at a reasonable price overseas. So naturally people like Nigella Lawson can add “oodles of butter” and “dollops of cream” and everything tastes delicious. I have a running battle with her during her television programme, the girls have quite a laugh about it. I scoff at almost everything she says, because she has an army of helpers and almost everything is jolly well prepared in advance. So she has to use some really fancy gadgets and smile prettily and make it look effortless. Anyway, all that butter and cream is not healthy, so there! But she is rather gorgeous looking. Which also reminds me, I was presented with a huge thick book of her recipes and I must go through it and decide if I can pick something out of it, minus the oodles and dollops of unhealthiness!
- Honky Tonk Woman.