Monday 30 May 2011


With the most exquisite music in the background, I can't think why 'disharmony' came to mind Well, perhaps I can. It would be the contrast, wouldn't it? Further, I can see that what I have in mind is also an extension of 'change', ( about which see below). Anyway, I have been noticing how irritated I let myself become when things are different just for the sake of innovation, or, worse, to indulge some directorial whim or an ego that rides rough-shod over the integrity of the original, music, theatre, whatever. Take food. The other day I ordered a dish in what seemed like a perfectly conventional, unpretentious restaurant. The dish's Cv described it as chicken with saffron mash and mixed vegetables. It came in a pile: spinach at the bottom, carrots next, mash on top of the carrots and chicken balanced on top of the mash. Now you tell me, what is the advantage of this as against laying them side by side on a plate as my Mother, and, indeed, I, would have done - and still do, of course - in the days when Art was for the walls and not the table. I dismantled this layer cake and placed the items alongside one another before partaking. I felt some embarrassment to find my companions all watching me, but, you tell me, how is one supposed to eat such a pyramid? Another speck in my eye is 'pan-fried'. I suspect I have gone on about this before. Bear with me. The very nature of irritants is that they go on irritating. But you show me an item which has been cooked first on its bottom then on its top that didnt undergo this proceedure in anything other than a pan. I suppose some venues may use a dustbin lid. Personally, I would find that grossly un-hygienic. The Guru, who, although no longer sharing a roof, still has plenty to contribute to saving my sanity, explained that things were either pan-fried or deep-fried. Deep fried in a dustbin lid, then? A plea: can we go back to grilled, roasted, poached, boiled or fried, (with a modicum or with lots of fat) and take the d....d containers for granted? Speaking of cooking on bottoms and tops, I have a confession. Well, it's a confession which hides some pride. In honour of guests whom I had the wish to honour this week-end, I decided to make Welsh cakes. For those of you deprived of the experience, I should explain that these delicacies are flat cakes cooked on top of the cooker on a flat bakestone, not, in other words, in the oven. The mixture is of flour, sugar, eggs, sultanas and a secret. I have lost my bakestone and usually make them on a frying pan; pan-fried: yes. However, this takes forever because it is too small for efficiency. Dear Reader, I bought what I thought was a modern replacement for my bakestone and proceeded. Total failure ensued. The mixture collapsed, it hated the ridges to which it was not accustomed and fell out of its rounds in to a middle puddle. With the speed of light, I greased a mince-pie tin and pushed the half-cooked mixture in to the several indentations of which it consists. (With me still? I have a nephew who says he doesn't read blogs because he is not interested that Whomever went to make a cup of tea. Do read on, Dear. I'm nearly there.) I did end up with little cakes. They didnt taste like Welsh cakes and they didnt taste like rock cakes. They were a long way from fairy cakes, having the consistency of paving stones but they were eaten with stoicism and politeness by people who appreciate that adaptation and a new approach can apply to Welsh cakes as well as to pans and pyramids.

Having got that off my plate, I'll go on to something else which disturbs my sense of cohesion: television. I watch too much. I usually enjoy what I watch and always want to know who has given me the pleasure. Eagerly, particularly when it is a film of a certain age, I wait to see who the players were. Sometimes, I even need verification of the name of a remembered face. In a flash, the readable cast of characters diminshes to the size of a parking fine's small print and a trail of another programme with an accompanying jolly voice-over pre-empts nine tenths, no, nineteen twentieths, of the screen leaving a passing ant to read the credits of the programme I have just been absorbed in. My sense of helplessness in the face of militant forces not only outside my control but also ignorant of the scope of their powers to destroy a moment is overwhelming. I lose contact with the next programme while I lie there thinking about ways in which I can overthrow the dictatorship of the Telly-rulers and emerge the heroine of the next daring-do science fiction/thriller, to rule the world of bin-lid cooking and lost captions all by myself with the odd - very odd, you may say - trusted one to enforce my bidding. Prynhawn da.

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