Back Seat Chef

Pride in ones culinary talents and an Indian boyfriend do not sit particularly well together. Although a deft hand at most western cuisines and capable as concerns certain East Asian dishes, the food of the Indian subcontinent still remains elusive.

No matter how perfect my soufflés (and in all modesty they’re Mary Poppins perfect) nor how tasty my moussaka, nor how crack-free my sponge-roll, my creations will never match the dhal and parantha of my boy’s grandmother. Foolishly, after several requests from P, I attempted a “simple” chicken korma. After two hours spent in the grinding of herbs and the frying of oily pastes, I had what seemed to be a very decent curry.

P strides in, waxing lyrical on the heavenly scents in the corridor. Ego: up one. He walks to the stove, lifts the lid and smiles all over his face. Ego: up another one. He reaches for the spoon and prods at the chicken, frowning. Irritation: up one. He squeezes a piece of the succulent meat between his fingers, getting sauce on his cuff. Irritation: up two. He looks at me and says: “You should add some more water. It’s too thick.” Ego: down four.

Remind me next time to serve the food on a plate, looking wonderful. Remind me not allow any more back-seat chef’s into the kitchen.

Gripe over, P actually loved the food. Despite his usually bird-like appetite, he ate enough for three or four decently sized people.

Intent on improving my Indian culinary techniques, I plan on a visit to the Indian Cookery School in Goa sometime in the near future.
See holidayonthemenu.com to join me there.

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed

Admittedly, when I first tried haggis, all I could cope with was the table-spoon-sized, no-thank-you-portion of my childhood. I soon became a convert. These days, my week is not complete with out a visit to the Half-Way House (my spiritual local) for a dish of haggis, neeps and tatties.

Nevertheless, I can sympathise with those who squirm at the plethora of offal that constitutes a haggis:

1 sheep stomach
1 sheep liver
1 sheep heart
2 sheep lungs (called “lights” in Scotland)
1 sheep brain
(plus oats, spice etc)

While I do understand the reluctance to try this dish, I do not understand how any dislike can be so vehement as to translate into government law banning its importation or production.

In both the US and Japan, the consumption of sheep-lung is illegal (as is brain and stomach in some states of the US).
That sheep-lung is considered unfit for human consumption seems to stem from an age of rampant tuberculosis and less-than-rigorous farm hygiene. Health officials apparently feared that eating infected sheep-lung tissue might cause a human to contract the disease. These countries now enforce strict farming hygiene. Eradication of TB in these countries is almost complete. A little haggis will not hurt anyone. (Just wait for my rant on the ban of unpasteurised cheese in Australia!)

If you’d like to have a go, there are plenty of haggis recipes around (including some Americanised versions without the sheep’s lung) or you could always buy a MacSween haggis like the rest of us.

Tips:
You must eat haggis with neeps (mashed turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes) – it is plain wrong not to.
Gather a crowd of people around when you go to slice open the haggis – watching that little sucker give birth is better than Alien.