I’d like to reinstate the tradition of the Sunday roast. For those who have never experienced the custom, it was a ritual passed down the generations from father to son. The father regaled his boys with past glories, of family get togethers and of roasted vegetables and chunks of meat smothered in gravy. His eyes glazed over as he talked about the best cook in the world. I spent hours in the kitchen trying to live up to the fable, peeling, cooking, basting and trying to keep the family tradition alive until my son’s girlfriends and other people’s dinner tables saved me.
It’s been a couple of decades since I basted a leg and mashed my last parsnip, but after watching Jamie Oliver and Nigella I find myself, against all natural inclination, longing to do it all over again. Along with thousands of others, I’m yearning to deglaze a pan and smother some Kipfler potatoes in olive oil and garlic. And I want to casually create truffle tarts with raspberries for dessert or something equally decadent. In other words I want to exhaust myself on the altar of haute cuisine. It’s a sacrilegious thought I haven’t had since I cut the shackles that kept me barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen several decades ago.
But I can’t help myself. There’s been a resurgence of cooking shows and their spin off DVDs and cookbooks. I can’t walk past a kitchen shop without dropping in to lust after a Kyocera Ceramic knife or to finger a scanpan. It’s all I can do to resist a Mezzaluna or pestle and mortar to help me pound my herbs. I confessed my fantasy to a friend, who admitted she was also hooked.
She’s thinking of starting a campaign to have the kitchen replace the theatre room as the centre of the family home. Maybe she and her mob will have a family cook in.
I blame Jamie and Nigella for making it all look easy. Three course meals are completed in a half hour session. One minute they’re peeling a veggie, the next some complex dish is bubbling nicely on the stove. And no matter how many saucepans have gone into the preparation of one dish the bench is always spotless and not a squashed minty pea in sight. I want to know their secret.
We’ve been lured back into the kitchen, but it’s not just the daily grind this time round and it’s not just us. My sons handle a spatula with confidence and my son the vegetarian can whip up a gourmet meatless meal before you can say tofu doesn’t cause greenhouse gases.
If I close my eyes the memories come thick and fast. I see us all as we were in those heady days. Dad at the head of the table, carving, the boys chattering like monkeys as they set the table, mum trotting in and out of the kitchen bringing on the minty peas and glazed carrots. Just the four of us, my partner and me and the two teenage boys getting stuck into the traditional lamb roast, veggies and conversation.