Chinese new year
26 January 2004
And a happy Year of the Monkey to all my readers. I cooked nine courses of Sichuan feast-food for a table of friends - which means of course that I cooked Fuchsia Dunlop, whose book Sichuan Cookery is one of those instant classics, and will still be definitive in fifty years. Even so, there is always that thing where you follow a recipe exactly, and it doesn't exactly work; most commonly the timing's off, and the food isn't cooked. Partly I guess this is down to personal taste, partly quality of ingredients, partly equipment (and particularly ovens, of course, where eight or nine graduations are a nonsense in a domestic cooker; ovens are cool, medium or hot, and that's about it). Even so, where the recipe says 'simmer for fifteen minutes' and you have to add a good hour to that to get the rabbit tender, I think something's gone askew.
Still and all, it was two days of effort to make far too much food, nothing went seriously pear-shaped and people were nice afterwards, so that was all worth while. Then we went all Victorian, and read to each other. I took my Chinese fantasy story, Dragon Kings Play Songs of Love, which seemed appropriate to the occasion. Others ranged from the Pied Piper to an uncle's autobiography.
And today I had lunch with the great Val McDermid, and came home to confront student portfolios with my marking pen in my hand, and pretty much waved a white flag and went to bed instead. There is clearly something wrong with me, but every time I go near those portfolios it gets significantly worse. It is the Examiner's Evil, and can only be cured by the touch of a senior lecturer...
© Chaz Brenchley 2004
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.