The suspense was growing. There is an element of hope in cooking an upsidedown cake at the best of time but cooking one for a demonstration in front of 35 members of the Glenroe Ladies’ Club was, perhaps, asking for trouble. Throw in anirregularly used gas oven – I live in a world of electricity, rarely cooking on gas – and a demonstrator who, while distracted, managed to turn the oven off instead of up (ahem) and you’re adding a whole new layer of problems to the mix!
Last year, on a trip to London, I picked up a spork – a light plastic utensil which features a spoon at one end, fork at the other and serrated knife edge on the fork side – in a kitchenware shop and I’ve rarely been without it since. The last quarter of 2008 was taken up with train trips to Dublin as I worked on the Foodtalk documentary series and, food on the train being what it is – or isn’t – my spork was invaluable.
It will be quiet around here this week as I have abandoned the Irish summer for some time soaking up the French sun with the Husband, the Teacher and the Tax Advisor. We have taken ourselves camping in the Vendée and Charente-Maritime regions on the Atlantic Coast for ten days, staying in small campsites and spending plenty of time investigating brioche and pain au chocolate, moules, abricots, glaces and galettes, along with cheese and wine of every description. Time now, perhaps, for another café au lait in the sunshine before we hit the beach. I can’t cope with the French keyboard any longer!
Nothing strikes more terror into the heart of a cook than being told that a guest is allergic or intolerant to certain foods. I find that it tends to concentrate the mind, not – as you may think – on what you can cook but, rather, what you can’t. Told that I need to avoid spicy foods, my brain invariably starts wandering through all my Indian and Moroccan favourites. For vegetarians, I start musing over soups with meat bases or, perhaps, Mexican Beans – cooked with bacon!