Wednesday, March 3, 2004

I have fed you, you are my tribe

Cooking for others was a bit of theme of last week. Tuesday I was a one-man factory at a college Day of the Dead/Shrove Tuesday pancake festival (oh … okay, there was some other talented help in the end) and Thursday I cooked for half the flatmates and a couple of college friends I’d not seen for a while.

Rather bizzarely, I heard the words “Doug, you’re a saint” quite often on Tuesday. I mean, sure I was slaving over a hot stove, but others pitched in to help – once I learned to relinquish the spatula.

Still, it left me with this image of myself in stained glass: a thin man in a brown-hooded robe, brandishing a frying pan benignly at his acolytes. (Rather less certain about the life of poverty and chastity, but I suppose saints still get to drink, right? Although, come to that, a simple, single life of quiet contemplation and study, having renounced the ways of the world (excepting wine and ale), sounds a spookily apt summation of graduate study.)

Thursday night I made my creamy chicken pasta in a tomato sauce with onion and capsicum, than all former flatmates will know and hopefully recall fondly. It seemed as popular as pancakes.

Other people brought cheese and salad, and one person prepared a truly awesome little fruit plate for dessert. (What were those bright yellow things the size of cherry tomatoes called? They were yummy. Especially with crème fraiche and honey.)

I am finding, or rediscovering, how much I like cooking for people. We are terribly lucky to have such a homey kitchen in student accommodation. There is something that fosters a real sense of community about sitting down to a meal around a kitchen table.

Nearly as much a sense of community as staggering in at the end of a long Friday night at the same time as a flatmate and deciding that a late night full English breakfast and gossip-swap over peppermint tea is in order.

Anyway, my culinary endeavours have not gone unnoticed. Thursday someone wrote a plea on the kitchen whiteboard for those staying in the house during the day to remove their washing at the end of the spin cycle and put it in the drier – even pledging to buy the good Samaritan a drink. I made the same request Friday, underneath someone scrawled:

“But what about the free drink?”

To which I wrote in reply: “Isn’t it enough I feed you?”

A third hand added: “And how!”

A fourth: “How? I’m curious?”

While a fifth concluded: “Wonderfully and fulsomely!”

So, there we have it. The first review of my cooking in print.

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