No one would ever describe me as a domestic goddess. But, amazingly, at a recent charity baking competition, my home-made coffee cake got an honourable mention from the judges. And I was asked for the recipe. Twice!
This may seem rather a modest achievement, but for someone whose cooking doesn’t know the meaning of the word finesse, it was a moment of great pride. Especially as it was my first ever bake-off.
And this was despite the butter icing sliding sideways en route to the event, having been slapped on the still-warm cake earlier that morning. Who knows, maybe it would even have earned a blue rosette if I’d made it the night before.
I’m not great with implements or mechanisms. Put a pen in my hand and the words flow, but give me a sewing needle or a paintbrush and it’s a different matter. I still remember my mortification as a nine-year-old Brownie having my strangled wool creation held up before the pack and Brown Owl asking gently “So, what exactly is this, Sheila?” No knitting badge for this dejected Sprite. And predictably Art was the only school exam I ever failed.
The current fad for deconstructed recipes has been a boon for me. I can just bung all the bits on a plate without needing to make them look nice, and present it as cutting-edge cuisine.
Because my dishes are always tasty – the proof of the pudding (and I’m famous for my puds) is truly in the eating. A tableful of empty plates at the end of a meal is testament to that.
Modern-day society is notably obsessed with how things, and people, look. Images are airbrushed and we are expected to present an acceptable public face, however much we may be crying inside. At least during lockdown we could stop pretending and slob around in daggy trackpants all day if we feel like it, because there’s no one to see or judge (other than the cat).
Older people are especially likely to be misjudged on appearance. Just because someone has white hair and wrinkles and uses a walker doesn’t mean they haven’t led an interesting and fulfilling life. Just because someone no longer goes out at night doesn’t mean they weren’t once a party animal who regularly painted the town red. Just because someone sits on a bench looking out at the sea doesn’t mean that decades ago they weren’t a demon surfer braving the waves. We all have a story to tell, once you can get past how people look.