Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Roast Dinners

Miles and Poppy normally live in Shanghai;
Poppy is a professional chef and cooks the most amazing food,
but she doesn't do a roast dinner.




So, 
when they are back here with us,
Miles puts in a request for a big roast dinner.
How could I refuse?

I don't eat meat
but I can be persuaded (occasionally)
to cook a roast dinner for the family.



Luckily Max is perfectly happy to eat meat-free most of the time
but 
offer him a roast dinner and he clears his plate
and
 comes back for seconds.
He won't eat lamb, though.
He stopped eating that even before I became vegetarian.



While I was slaving over a hot stove
(I really hate cooking meat)
I began to think about all the roast dinners which my mother cooked.



She was a big meat-eater and an excellent cook.
If she saw a cow grazing in a field
she would salivate. 
Okay, slight exaggeration,
but she knew her cuts of meat
and had the respect of our local butcher.

The whole meal was delicious
but
the roast meat was a triumph.
Her Yorkshire Puddings were a bit hit and miss
sometimes wonderful, sometimes a heavy gloop.
 Her gravy, however, was always amazing.

What didn't emerge until much later (when my mother became ill)
was that my father was also more than capable
of producing a fine roast dinner.

He'd kept that quiet for decades!


Max's mother was an indifferent cook,
but my word did she make a good roast dinner,
her forte being 
Yorkshire puddings.
She made the best ones I have ever tasted.
They were crisp, tasty, light - every time.
She tried to teach me how to do them
alas, I take after my mother.

The funny thing was that she didn't do anything special,
didn't weigh anything,
they just rose magically.  
Puffs of air, crunchy, flavoursome.
She had the knack.

My father-in-law also turned out to be
very good at roast dinners
but not the Yorkshire puddings.


My late uncle was another man who could turn out
a superb roast dinner with superb gravy.
He enjoyed cooking,
just as well,
for my aunt was much better at salads than roasts.

I must admit that my main memory of roast dinners
is the enormous number of dirty pots, pans and dishes
which each one generated.
The whole family would be roped in to help do the washing-up,
forming an unwilling chain gang
and
sneakily flicking tea-towels at one another to relieve the tedium.

Even as a child I knew that a piece of cheese and some crusty bread
was much more to my taste...



Does Max have hidden culinary talents?
No.
He struggled to boil an egg
until Alice bought him a special gadget.

We really must try to build on that
increase his repertoire.

x



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