Nobody accepts a dinner invitation to our house and actually expects me to cook. Everyone knows that my culinary skills are right up there with my ability to pedal a unicycle whilst juggling with chain saws. And nobody wants to lose an arm. Don’t believe me? You’ve never tried my fish kedgeree.
Due to this skills shortfall, Mr B normally takes charge in the kitchen whenever we have guests. And jolly good at it he is too. Whilst he is whipping up something delicious, I am diligently emptying crisp packets into bowls and peeling the plastic top off the fancy dips. This arrangement is tried, tested and well known amongst our friends. But it’s nearly always me who cooks when it’s just the family.
The first battlefield is the menu. A typical conversation goes:
Daughter: What’s for supper, mummy?
Me: Spaghetti bolognese
Daughter: Can I have carbonara instead?
Daughter: Why not?
Me: Because I’ve already made bolognese and this isn’t a restaurant.
Cue disgruntled snorts and children rolling their eyes at my unreasonable behaviour.
The second challenge is the fault of the television. My children love nothing better than to snuggle down on the sofa for the latest episode of Masterchef, The Great British Bake Off, or Crème de la Crème. And those shows have given them what I can only describe as unrealistic expectations. Raspberry and cardamom loaf baked in the shape of the Titanic? I’ll whip one of those up between courses. Life-size model of Mary Berry made out of layer cake and topped with elderflower candy floss for hair? Give me two minutes…
‘Let’s play Masterchef,’ my children say with glee, as I carry their dinner to the table. The other night my eldest daughter kicked off the critique with ‘I like the way the different colours look on the plate, and the sausages are lovely and juicy, but the texture of the mash is disappointing.’ At which point my seven-year-old nodded sagely, before fixing me with a steely glare and saying ‘And I was hoping it would be served with a drink…’
I would like to be a better cook, really I would, but the way I see it I am perfectly preparing my children for when they leave home and spend the first two years living off baked beans and Pot Noodles. I am also preparing them for life’s minor disappointments – for when everything awesome and outdoors is rained off at the last minute, and for smiling politely as they unwrap of Christmas presents they don’t actually want. In short, my children are learning to deal with life’s disappointments early, and if it also encourages them to be better cooks than I am, then it’s all good with me.
Thanks to Huffington Post for the image at the top of this blog.