Fifty shades of grey disasters in the kitchen needn’t be torture

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COOKERY HORRORS: Hope doesn’t equal experience.


SHE might have written several cookbooks, but Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t spared from culinary disasters. She recently described how a dinner party went wrong after her aubergine parmigiana (yes, really) had guests running for the bathroom, everyone throwing up.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? From using the wrong ingredients to, well, fatal attempts of hope over experience. When it comes to jumbling up ingredients, few can equal Esther Rantzen’s recollection of serving mayonnaise with Christmas pudding: “I thought it was brandy butter. My brave mother ate it and said it was delicious, but nobody agreed with her.”
Which reminds me of some work colleagues at a function where Christmas pudding was served with gravy instead of custard (presumably in error, rather than as part of some Hestor Blumenthal-type deconstruction exercise).
And as for lack of experience, few can match the BBC’s Jeremy Vine’s attempts at a romantic meal: “I’d bought asparagus and the recipe said to cut off the tips. So I did. I cut the tips off and threw them in the bin, then served the stalks.”
Sometimes, inventiveness can pay off. A flatmate of mine back in the day made a lemon cheesecake. It wasn’t bad, the lemon was there but quite subtle. Only afterwards did she let slip she’d forgotten to buy lemon juice, so added four sachets of Lemsip to the cream cheese.
Inventiveness, though, can go to your head – disastrously. I invited a friend and his newish French girlfriend to supper and thought: I’ll show this très chic mademoiselle the French aren’t the only gastronomic superstars.
Hmm. The egg yolk in the ‘soufflé’ curdled to scrambled egg, the bread I made ended up looking like a damp sponge and the soup – ominous shades of grey – tasted nauseatingly burnt.
Mademoiselle chewed politely at these delicacies. Not long afterwards, I was invited back and discovered she couldn’t cook either…
What are your culinary disasters, I wonder?
Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Landscape of Lies’, ‘Retribution’, ‘Soul Stealer’, ‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook and iBookstore. Profits to Cudeca





1 COMMENT

  1. I was letting a loaf of bread (my first ever attempt at baking and at the same time trying to impress new boyfriend) rise on his kitchen table with a kitchen cloth on top when the cloth got too close to a candle and went up in flames. He threw a bucket of water over it -and I got doused too.

    End of budding relationship – and any further attempt at bread making…

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