Kitchen calamityAugust 28, 2009
Well, it doesn’t happen very often, but it did last night. I cooked a Truly Revolting meal for my beau and myself.
It was supposed to be a lovely rich dahl and a dish of potatoes and peas in a yoghurt sauce, but let’s just be frank and call it vomit-coloured slop (and thanks to the yoghurt, there was even a whiff of the sick bowl about it too). I haven’t posted a photograph of it here, but believe me that’s for your own good.
Nor will I slander the recipe-writers because obviously I did something hideously wrong, but they are both well-known & respected. I can’t figure out what I did, unless it was just the combination of dishes that made it so disgusting.
Suffice it to say if anyone has a recipe for dahl that does not end up as powdery, tasteless slop (there’s only so much salt and lemon juice you can add before you get past the point of no return, and it seemed to make no difference), can you share, please? I have eaten delicious dahl many times, so what the hell went wrong with mine?
And ‘yoghurt sauce’. This dish proved that sometimes you really need a photograph accompanying a recipe (I checked back later, and the book had one of those photo pages with a spread of different dishes. But they craftily did not include a picture of this dish). To me, ‘yoghurt sauce’ conjured up images of lovely thick clustery, creamy spicy goodness. But in fact, if one followed the recipe the result was a watery pale yellow (the V-word again) soup in which the peas were drained to a lovely grey colour and the potatoes just gave up the ghost entirely and slumped there, defeated and drowning. I ended up reducing the hell out of it just to rid it of the nuclear-waste-affected pondwater effect, which process sapped even more colour and any remaining life from the solids.
By the time this meal reached the table we had a bowl of rice (fine), a bowl of yellow soupy starchy tasteless slop (dahl) and a bowl of the pale starchy mess, which by now was a sort of grey and lumpy glue, but at the same time tasteless (except for the faint topnote of bile) and somehow textureless. Quite a feat, I think you’ll agree. We also, thank god, had the cumquat chutney – but again, it’s rather tart and sweet, so more than a tablespoon of that was always going to make the eyes water. Nothing could save us on this occasion.
I was so horrified I could barely eat a mouthful, and sat squirming in my chair while Senor doggedly chewed on, in a prim and dignified fashion, telling me to stop behaving like a three year old as I rolled my eyes and gagged and made faces. He got quite cross when I refused to eat my plate’s worth, and told me I was being ridiculous, and then to prove a point served himself a bit more grey slop. He is a brave and noble man.
I suddenly remembered what it was like being a child and having to eat food that made you physically gag, and felt a stab of surprised sympathy for all the kids at my table over the years who have had the same response to some (perfectly good, I might add) dish I’ve served. Poor little beggars. Next time one of them convulses and makes vomit noises I shall take their plate away and give them ice cream.
Ugh. Bad food. I guess one good thing is to realise how shocking it is when it happens, which shows how generally well we eat.
There is, of course, a bucketload of dahl left, which Senor claims he will eat for lunch. But we shall see. Even the greatest nobility has its limits. To my mind, this is one occasion on which food waste is not only acceptable but the only humane course of action.
What about you? I doubt any of you have had any disasters recently, but any comforting anecdotes of calamities from the past that you’d like to share?