FLAKES: A forkful of cooking oil


French chefs are famous for being among the best in the world. However, it was a French chef who made the famous TV gaffe, “add a few forkfuls of oil.”

Mind you, he may have meant exactly what he said. Perhaps his recipe was drawn from the “cuisine minceur” (literally ‘slim cooking’) school.

After the whole medical profession has conspired to give us all a terror of the fats family of foods, which of us does not struggle with teaspoons, sprays and kitchen paper to reduce the oil in our food?

I had not previously thought of recruiting a fork into my efforts, but I will certainly give it a try.

Cookery is an essential life skill; we all need to eat to live (and an increasing number of us also live to eat.) But cooking is also an enjoyable pastime, a way of showing love to our family and friends, and a way of being totally creative – mixing and merging God’s bounty of cereals, vegetables, meats, herbs and spices into surprising and delicious results.


But let’s face it, cooking can also be a pain. I am not talking about those times when you are forced to cobble together a meal in minutes while a hungry family bays for your blood.

I mean those times when a creative creation becomes, well, creative. The pity of it is that the budding cook simply cannot resist announcing that they are about to cook Coq au vin or pumpkin chapatis or mushroom risotto or whatever the flavour of the day is.

This results in a large number of household inhabitants gathering at the dining table with their eating implements at the ready.

A few of the younger ones even rush into the kitchen to lick bowls, spoons, chopping boards and any other utensil which may retain some raw materials. This means that every cooking disaster is a public disaster; there is no opportunity to discreetly scrape the disgusting result into the bin.

Instead it is bitterly consumed by the waiting crowd who are determined to eat it even if it kills them!

Cooking disasters have been part of my life for so long that I have even come up with a classification scheme to describe them.

The most determined group of cooking rebels are the curdlers, which include homemade mayonnaise, custard and yoghurt.

These are all supposed to produce smooth and creamy substances that slide across the tongue, but are equally likely to emerge as porridgy lumps floating in a sour liquid.

An embarrassing but edible group are the deflators. These include cakes (especially birthday cakes for six-year-olds), meringues, mousses and fools (and I don’t mean the one wearing the faux chef’s hat).

These are visualised as light and airy concoctions, but all too often they fall as flat as a drunken sailor, and take on the consistency of his ageing boots.

A dramatic group are the exploding foods. Amazingly, they do it all by themselves, without even a hint of assistance from Al Shabaab or any other subversive group.

These include any egg that you attempt to introduce into a cooking device known as a microwave. In my case, they include the many foods that I forget to supervise when they are bubbling inside another cooking device known as a pressure cooker. Believe me, pressure and cooking should never mix!

Everyone is familiar with the burnt offerings category, the most common example being burnt bread, otherwise known as toast.

However, there are many other foods which love to burn including onions, rice, and meat that rolls off the barbecue grill and straight into the hot coals!

Worse than food which cook too much are foods that don’t want to cook at all, in other words the c’raw’lers.

Any roast chicken which had even a passing acquaintance with a freezer during its life (or is it death?) history, falls into this category. No matter how brown and succulent it may look on the outside, there is always the risk of stringy, uncooked flesh at its core.

They say that milk never boils if you watch it (and of course boils over in a frothy, hard-to-clean mess as soon as you take your eyes off it!). But, whatever the problem, I have to keep trying because good food is essential to a good life.

Enjoy your cooking this Saturday.