The old man has gone back to the Motherland for ten days and of course I will miss him desperately. With NC still cavorting in Thailand, however, this has allowed me some respite from the domestic drudgery of cooking.
Or to be precise, it releases me from the thrice weekly trek to our local Thai to pick up something the whole family will eat without gagging.
As you can imagine, I’m not exactly the stereotypical fifties housewife waiting for the old man to walk through the door with a homemade casserole steaming on the kitchen table, pinny on, a beer in one hand and the other hand free to take his jacket off.
Which is why we tend to support our local community of restaurants rather more than we should.
I’m not really sure why the onus of cooking fell to me, in what I consider to be an equal partnership – Oh, that’s right, he’s even more crap at it than I am and the clearing up afterwards requires working a night shift.
But as every true domestic goddess knows, being the cook of the house is not just about clattering a few saucepans, breaking a few plates, heating up a ready-made sauce and overcooking the vegetables, is it?
There’s the whole fucking tedious process involved of having to THINK about what to cook, having to BUY the ingredients, having to CREATE something edible out of them, and then having to listen to the family MOAN about it afterwards.
These days, I can’t remember why I got so worked up about the kids eating five fruit and veg a day when they were little. They survived didn’t they, without developing some ghastly mineral or vitamin deficiency disease? Where did I find the time to be so anal? I’m lucky now if they eat five home-cooked meals a month.
Admittedly, my family is not the easiest to cater for.
In the planning stage of each meal, I also have to work out how I can customise the meal to suit the palates of four very fussy, different diners.
You see, there are two camps of eaters in our house – for simplicity’s sake, let’s label them the ‘unhealthy’ and ‘healthy’ camps.
These two camps can then be subdivided still further by dividing the unhealthy camp (NC and the old man) into ‘bland’ and ‘fussy’ and mine and Kurt’s camp into ‘processed’ and ‘perpetual (with no-true-conviction) dieter’. In reality, Kurt is a bit of a hybrid – his choice would always be ‘processed’ food but occasionally he develops food obsessions for healthy things like Barramundi without realising and I get all excited and buy a whole school, until the next time I catch him eating Tandoori pizza for breakfast.
Sadly for NC, she inherited the old man’s physiological deficit of possessing no taste buds, which leaves them both highly wary of new food groups – particularly those with any flavour.
They both eat to live.
Their favourite foods all have the same E number flavour, which is where they have a connection with Kurt, because obviously processed food is particularly popular in this camp. Any new food is treated with extreme caution and suspicion, however, and food that has not previously been tasted, dissected and fully evaluated must pass quality control before it is tried.
This generally involves someone other than me telling them that it’s really good.
Up until about the age of two, NC outrightly refused to eat solids and would retch if I dared place any mass in her mouth other than yoghurt. It was very awkward in restaurants and I wholeheartedly agree with those people who want to ban small babies from posh restaurants.
I do wonder how the restaurants in Koh Samui are faring with NC and her culinary whims. I imagine they would happily exchange the political unrest in Bangkok for NC, given half the chance.
Perhaps I’m being harsh. She has improved a little with our move closer to the city, a more cosmopolitan lifestyle and a bit of growing up. She has widened her horizons culturally in terms of what she will allow in her mouth and has discovered that she likes three Asian dishes now – subject, of course, to being allowed to prod, identify and remove any foreign objects first; which obviously include all Asian vegetables.
Top of her hit list are tomatoes and onions, followed by any rogue vegetables that she cannot identify or are just plain fugly.
Inevitably, sometimes she gets caught out when she strays too far from her safety zone of scrambled eggs on toast, which is where the art of food deconstruction comes into play.
This is a lamb and tzatziki wrap, post-deconstruction by NC’s food disposal unit, (Special Ops). The pile of ‘healthiness’ on the right is what she discarded.
It’s not pretty, is it? Nor was the bill of over $10 for what essentially evolved into a wrap with two mouthfuls of lamb.
Long may this cooking sabbatical last, is all I can say. I am dining on fresh fish, a smorgasbord of different salads and the most foreign-sounding, smelliest cheeses I can find in our local cheese shop, while Kurt is supporting my break from the kitchen by proving that man can actually survive on eighteen bowls of cereal per day.