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Irukandji
 
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Too many cooks spoil the broth

17 April 2014, 07:43

I cannot remember my old Dad, or any of his friends, ever preparing food in a kitchen. Back in the day, people’s roles were clear-cut: Men were expected to behave like *MEN – tough, unyielding, the wise heads of the house, providers, guardians, and protectors of their families. Women were the glue that held their families together, the ones who bandaged cuts and bruises, wiped away the tears, taught the children manners and how to behave. They cooked, knitted, and kept house. They were WOMEN.

Together, the married MEN and WOMEN of yesteryear were formidable teams that formed the core and backbone of the nation.

Those who were in the closet, stayed in the closet. Out-of-wedlock pregnancies, across the colour-line relationships, and atheists, were from the Devil.

Dancing on Sundays; driving a Chevrolet; drinking Vaaljapie (in public); belonging to the Apostolic Faith; and smoking Five Star Cigarettes, were signs of bad breeding.

How things have changed since then…

I remember, years ago, when I still had a TV to watch, there was a program called The Naked Chef, featuring Jamie Olivier. Right from the start, I caught a “gly” in this chap. Not because he appeared naked on TV (perish the thought!), but because of his little put-on mannerisms and gestures. He acted like some martial arts champion – fighting a whole range of unarmed vegetables, dead fish, and long-departed pieces of raw meat – as if his kitchen was a karate dojo.

He’d step forward, and whack some defenceless clove of garlic, that was sitting peacefully on a chopping board, to a senseless piece of pulp – and then jump back, as if expecting the fatally injured clove to retaliate with a deadly mawashi-geri to his solar plexus. Really, it was ridiculous to watch this show.

A friend of mine (No, Sakkie, it wasn’t you), who wanted to make an omelet using Jamie’s recipe – was seriously injured in the process.

Jamie instructed his TV chefs-in-the-making: “To make the most beautiful, awe-inspiring omelet in the world, you start off by cracking your eggs into a deep glass bowl.”

Both my friend’s wife (and his skelm), cursed Jamie for many weeks thereafter.

And then there was that Chinese chap, Martin Yan. “Look at this, look at this. Look at that, look at that,” he sounded like a scratched record covered in soy sauce and raw ginger.

I always wanted to see Mr.Yan stir-fry a Chihuahua – but he never did.

But that’s not important right now.

Most of my friends are equally at home in the kitchen and in the garage. I have found that men with technical skills often play some kind of musical instrument, or have an above average love for music. They usually have serious sound equipment, and a refined taste in either wine or whiskey. (But that’s just my opinion.)

I can make a grilled pepper (fillet) steak, with red wine and cream, to kill for. And my curried fish (recipe from the Cape of All Hope) has been classified as a State Secret. The wife can make fantastic salads that will have old Jamie commit seppuku with his paring knife.

Everyone should try their hands at creating a culinary dish at least once in their lifetimes. But don’t follow the TV chefs’ recipes – that’s for ordinary sheeple. I have found some extraordinary recipes, in a book published in 1742, by Eliza Smith: The Compleat Housewife. Try it, and tell me what you think.

A Ragoo for Made Dishes

“Take your Claret, Gravy, sweet Herbs, and savoury Spice, toss up in it Lamb-stones, Cox-combs, boiled, blanched and sliced, with sliced Sweet-Meats, Oysters, Mushrooms, Truffles, and Murrels; thicken these with Brown butter, use it when called for.” Yummy! (Even though I have no idea what “Murrels” are.)

Or this one:

A Pigeon Pye

“Truss and season your Pigeons with savoury Spice, lard them with Bacon, and stuff them with Forc’d-meat, and lay them in the Pye with the Ingredients for savoury Pyes, with Butter, and close the Pye. A Lear, a Chicken, or Capon Pye, is made the same Way.” (Stuff them with Forc’d-meat? Sounds a bit kinky, doesn’t it?)

Savoury Balls

“To make the most beautiful, awe-inspiring savoury balls, do the following: Grill your balls on a very hot...” Naaah. I think we’ll skip this one. (Remember what happened to my friend’s eggs?)

How about this one:

A Caudle for Sweet Pyes

“Take your Sack and White Wine alike in Quantity, a little Verjuice and Sugar, boil it and brew it with two or three Eggs, as butter’d ale; when the pyes are baked, pour it in at the Funnel, and shake it together.” (The “your Sack,” has me a bit worried.)

Lastly, for those of you who like to imbibe in the Frothy One:

How to make Cock Ale (This is a genuine recipe, I kid you not.)

“Take your large cock, the older the better; and ten gallons of ale, parboil the cock, flay him, and stamp him in a stone mortar till his bones are broken (you must craw and gut him when you flay him); then put the cock into two quarts of sack, and put it to three pounds of raisins of the sun stoned, some blades of mace, and a few cloves; put all these into a canvas bag, and a little before you find the ale has done working, put the ale and bag together into a vessel; in a week or nine days time bottle it up; fill the bottle but just above the neck, and give the same time to ripen as other ale.”

Soooo. Did we learn anything from this?

Maybe my old Dad and his friends knew all about these ancient recipes, and decided, wisely, to keep out of the kitchens. After all, as they say in **Nayderlunch: Te veel lullen bederven het bordeel.”

*MEN – the complete opposite to the crying, puking, pleading, whining, snot dripping specimen, we’ve seen in court lately.

**Nayderlunch – “Too many cocks spoil the brothel.”

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