Thursday, 13 March 2008

I'm a little short (part one)

There are certain times in life when one does not wish to be wracked with indecision: moments when you’d rather be able to make a choice and stick with it with the tenacity of, well, of someone who has absolute faith in their base convictions. I imagine that waiting at the end of the aisle is not a place to have an internal dialogue with the two opposing forces in one’s head, nor would it be wise to have second thoughts when halfway across a rapidly flowing, dangerous-creature filled river thus rendering you unable to head to either bank, instead flailing like a spider caught in the whirlpool of an emptying bath. As a general rule I’d class myself ‘not bad’ at making decisions although I do tend to be a bit erratic, if it were a subject at school I think my report would say something along the lines of ‘not bad at making decisions, tends to be a bit erratic. C+’.

For example, I have been known to agonise for far too long over what to drink in a pub and the inevitable appearance of a waiter at my table can send me into a flustered panic but I guess all those minor ums and ahs have been cancelled out by the quitting of job (about 0.4 seconds to decision made, or DM) and buying of cottage with girlfriend (similar DM). See? Erratic.

Anyway, this brings me neatly on to what I wanted to say about food and cooking (there is always a point to my clunkingly ponderous meanderings even if it is not immediately obvious). Last Monday I received a call from a researcher at the production company behind a well-known BBC food series in which members of public compete to become the master of all things cheffy (I’m not sure how much I am meant to say, so I’ll keep it vaguely cryptic). After a telephone interview I was invited to the casting day and was asked to bring myself as well as a dish that could be eaten cold, ‘most people bring desserts because it’s a bit easier,’ I was told. Cue four sleepless nights deciding what to cook and how to cook it. Every time I tried to close my eyes I had possibilities running through my mind like a cinema screen onto which a demonic projectionist was displaying a visual representation of food Tourette’s. One moment I’d be staring at a piece of pork pie, the next it would be a slab of Valrhona cheesecake rapidly followed by a butter poached langoustine, venison loin with blueberry sauce and hundreds of meals I didn’t even recognise. I felt less like Alex, me Alex, and more like Alex from A Clockwork Orange Alex, only marginally less keen on milk.

I became fixed on the idea of cooking pigeon but was unsure whether it would benefit from begin served cold. The resultant dish (pan-fried pigeon breast with a savoury pigeon baklava, (similar to a pastilla) was tasty but lacked the depth of flavour I was after and so I returned to the drawing board, attempting to delve into the depths of my imagination to come up with a suitable dish that fulfilled the necessary criteria. I was loathe to do a dessert partly due to my ineptitude at most things pasty related and partly because I felt that doing something savoury would put me into the minority. After much head-scratching and discussion, I eventually settled on a canapé type morsel consisting of rosemary shortbread, fig and onion jam, goats’ cheese, and rosemary infused honey.

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