AFTER recently settling down to dinner I realised I’d forgotten to bring the mustard in from the kitchen. I dashed back to fetch the jar from the shelf on which it normally sits, but it wasn’t there.
This was the umpteenth time that it had moved. Normally I would grumpily ask my other half, Marcus, where he’d hidden it, and neither of us would get dinner until the mustard was found.
But this time Marcus wasn’t around. He had taken himself off on a Far Eastern vacation, so it remained in whatever hidey-hole he’d found for it. I had to make do with horseradish sauce, which just didn’t cut the mustard, so to speak.
I have always regarded the kitchens of every place I’d lived in as my territory, and mine alone because ‘help’ with the cooking or washing up can unleash havoc.
Here’s an example of how things can go disastrously wrong when someone steps in to lend a hand. A friend of mine – a cordon bleu chef – told me she’d almost battered her husband David to death with a meat mallet after he nipped into the kitchen to help with a dinner party she was preparing for six.
When Natalie briefly popped out of the kitchen to use the loo, he shot in. On seeing a roasting tray at the side of the sink that had just been used for the main duck dish, he squirted washing up liquid into the tray.
On her return, Natalie shooed her husband out of the kitchen, and, obviously unaware of the detergent in the tray he was about to wash, used the contents to make a sauce.
It was only when her guests started to gag and pull faces did she realise something had gone horribly wrong. When David explained ‘I was only trying to help’ she ran out of the house in tears, went to a bar, got mightily sloshed and returned home at 3am.
The only time I ever shared a kitchen was when my late partner Brian and I co-bought a property with a third party called Terry Mullins in London back in the 1980s. The arrangement didn’t last long. The now-dead Mullins, who seemed a nice enough bloke before we ended up under the same roof, proved to be a thoroughly nasty piece of work.
The screaming matches we had concerned things like toilet paper (he refused to have any in the loo, preferring torn-up sheets of the Daily Mirror) to heating (each time I’d turn on the central heating, he’d turn it off).
But the biggest bone of contention was the kitchen. I hated his boiled cabbage and he loathed the smell of my curries. One day, while I was out, he removed a chicken vindaloo that was simmering on the cooker and flushed it down the toilet.
Such was my fury that I began cooking curry every single day. My aim was to make the house smell like an Indian restaurant.
Mission accomplished, Brian and I moved out and left Mullins to de-curry the house and placate angry neighbours who’d begun complaining about the smell.
Revenge is a dish best served curried!