Why You Can Cook Like Nigella Before You're 55

02 November 2012 by

Can you cook? I can. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, but, well, I will. It helps that I like cooking. And that I used to live in Italy where they hand out disability permits to people who can’t cook. And that I like spending money on food. But I also understand the merits of butter, seasoning and cooking things painfully slowly. And I like cooking for people. Call me a feeder, if you want. Go on. See if I care.

All of which makes the following survey, conducted by The Co-Op - great at organic food, great for fairtrade - a bitter pill to swallow: that women become great cooks at 55.

By 55, ‘she’ will have ability to produce 15 meals on a regular basis. ‘She’ will be able to differentiate between herbs, know how to cater for parties of 12 or more and throw together random ingredients to make a decent meal. ‘She’ will also be able to rescue a dinner that has gone awry.

Well bully for ‘she’ because I, at the ripe old age of 29, can do all of the above. And, ‘survey’, I see your 15 meals and raise you, ooh, about 47. Yes I can cook 47 meals. More probably but I don’t want to blow my own trumpet any more than I already have.

Of course these surveys are vague and general and a bit of fun but frankly, the way us ‘young people’ are pigeonholed is a little insulting. the idea that we can’t boil an egg until we’re 40. Or switch a lightbulb. Or change a tyre (actually I can’t do that). But you only have to read next week’s issue for more views on the subject of reverse ageism to know that it’s pandemic. Still, some of us can actually cook. Which is why I would like to impart some information in case you can’t. But would rather not end up on the receiving end of a survey:

Buy A MicroplaneIt grates stuff really well and fits in small kitchens (belonging to students)

Get Into Stock It makes everything taste better. Pasta, rice . I like Knorr, but most are good.

Learn To Love Your Cooks Certain cooks are better for certain things and you shouldn't be afraid to follow their recipes. Nigel Slater's Fast Food is great if you aren’t terribly skilled as his recipes are foolproof. Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty is great if you have a little time (and money – the man loves his ingredients) and want to impress merely by chopping things. Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess is good for cakes, Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italian speaks for itself and Julia Child is the queen of sauces. Obviously.

Blogs are good ways of learning how to cook because they’re written by amateurs. My favourite is danbiddulph.com/foodtravel and feasting-on-scraps.tumblr.com because the recipes work.

If you can’t bake don’t worry. I can’t because it’s like science and I sucked at science. Doesn’t mean you can’t cook.

Become familiar with garlic, onions, chilli and sea salt. They make everything taste great.

If in doubt, add cheese. But try parmesan. It’s classier than cheddar.


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