Okay, I’ll admit it – I’ve had my share of kitchen disasters.
The first was a layered dessert my young self wagged primary school to make. With three different colours and in individual glasses, the recipe for this chic affair was the most exciting thing I’d ever seen. At the supermarket I learned that the mysterious ingredient crème de menthe was something I wasn’t allowed to buy. Undeterred, I accepted the suggestion to use peppermint essence instead – which I substituted quantity for quantity – that would be one tablespoon of peppermint essence per dessert – enough to blow the top of your head clean off. That’s okay – the peppermint was by balanced by the four tablespoons of coffee I added next, having misread teaspoon. Let me tell you, I added a whole new dimension to the term balance of flavours, and it wasn’t a good one. I don’t think we ever got the jelly out of the champagne glass stems, either.
Next came the great horsey-bag fiasco. Desperately in love, I spent an entire week preparing a Chinese banquet for my first love, a country boy. As we chewed – and chewed, and chewed, and chewed – a silence descended around the dinner table, until someone finally said, “There’s something wrong with that rice. It sort of retaliates when you bite it.” I retrieved the jar of rice I’d used from the pantry. Yep – barley. If you’ve never tried undercooked barley, for the love of God don’t start now. We sent my country boy home with a horsey bag.
The case of the flaming moussaka is not one of my proudest moments. Being the first time I made it, it had taken me most of the day. Finally, dead on my feet, I put it in the oven around 9.00pm. I took it out again while I changed a shelf position. Whoosh! There was flash of light – and that’s when I realised the tea towel around this day-long moussaka was on fire – and right beneath the kitchen curtains to boot.