The Cold War

Do you want to come for dinner? Dinner. Not the Blumenthal place which was nice but a bit dull and looks like a Barclays bank branch from 1991 with jelly molds on the walls. Dinner at mine tonight. Dinner for two. Me, the fat bastard and my slender pretty wife. I will eat approximately thrice what she will. Firstly because I’m greedy and secondly because she won’t like it as much as arrogant “Love me! Love me!” moi will pretend I do just so I don’t feel so ashamed.

This is a grim and dumb insight into the dulled edge, rusted cog, workings of my culinary mind. This is how dinner is decided.

Know this; I loathe edits. I like unadulterated splurges. Not everything needs to be drum tight and polished. Grit and what Tom Waits calls: ”The hair in the gate”, is all I’ve ever cared about. I’m not saying I plan on moulting into dinner or seasoning with flint and sand. Words and sentences only work for me when they read ragged and sweetly vomitus.

You there, at the back, waving your lit class smuggery and your “Behind every great writer, is a great editor” badge. I hear you sir, I do madam. I understand it but I don’t have to like it all the time.

Oh, and I’m super lazy.

I defrosted those merguez that I thought the butcher was giving me for free. I paid him for them and the pig lesson and the pork neck bones. He let me off fifty pence. I thought that was a bit tight but then again I had somehow ignored the fact that he DID actually offer me them for free but I, like some gurning Hugh Grant blob of English manners, insisted I pay for them. I was then confronted with the pathetic couple of coins in my pocket so he then had to let me off fifty pee which I felt guilty about whilst simultaneously being annoyed with him. I walked out with the sausages, the neck bones, cold feet from standing in the freezing cutting room, and red cheeks from the whole payment kerfuffle. I also regretted not asking him for some pig tails. I wanted some but had felt embarrassed to ask for some. It felt a bit gross and pervy for some reason. Much like I imagine eating them would taste like. I drove home in the sleet feeling all kinds of Hugh Grant but minus the hooker penchant, or the floppy fringe.

Anyway, there was no room in the freezer so I defrosted the merguez. They will have to be dinner tonight.

I bought extra red onions this week. I did these dry roasted onions with capers, brown butter and anchovy the other day. They were lush so I’ll do them again tonight. This time I ‘ll trim the tops better so they don’t burn so much. A bit of burn is okay but it was a bit much and a little too bitter last time. Also that night, when I went to brush my teeth before bed, I noticed a big fleck of carbonized onion on my front tooth that my wife had blatantly seen, but neglected to tell me about. Either that, or she just never looks at me. I often look like a tipsy, sweaty, leering David Baddiel so that’s perhaps more likely.

My issue now is with green stuff. I used the bok choy last night in that awful health-shop ramen I made. The broth, with the neck bones, was awesome. I destroyed it by putting my home made rye ramen noodles in it. The rye flour had frozen and then during cooking, torn the noodles into inch long worms. The taste was wood and wicker and it somehow leeched all the flavour from the broth. The pork belly and the bok choy in the soup was good but I sat alone at the kitchen table furious at the stupid fucking brown noodles. Since I used the bok choy there’s only green salady stuff left and I want to make dinner bleak and Nordic. There’s no place for lettuce or rocket at Odin’s (Casual Nordic Stereotyping Go-To Mythic Figure’s) table.  Merguez is already in play, messing with my theme, throwing salad at things is going to wipe the bleak away in a zesty second.

This is a clear example of how stupid I am. I should really be planning a dinner around the merguez. Anyone else would be thinking North Africa, Morocco.. Camels, souks, harrissa, cumin, that sweet bit in ‘Bourne‘ where Damon jumps through that window off a roof. Not me. I am ignoring the spicy sausage and entirely basing dinner around some burnt onions.

Now I’ve remembered the red cabbage I bought. No greenery, I’ll go red instead. I want to try and do this red cabbage thing I had at Manfred’s in Copenhagen where the cook just burned the hell out of a wedge of red cabbage and served it with some sort of bleak Nordic yoghurty sauce and a handful of roasted buckwheat. I’ll do that, the yoghurt will go with the merguez and end up as some stupid Nordic/Marrakech fest. Whatever, it’ll probably be good.

Ah twatface! I forgot I bought chicken livers. I have been meaning to buy some for ages, and this week I did. Now I’ve forgotten about them for a couple of days they’ve probably gone green and rancid. Now, if they’re okay I’ll have to ram them into dinner somewhere. I doubt my wife wants to eat them, she scowled when she saw them in the fridge. She’s probably praying I have forgotten about them so she can throw them out. In fact, maybe that’s why there was stuff placed in front of them in the fridge? Sabotage! Right, if that’s the game we’re playing then I am definitely cooking them tonight.

I actually view the fridge as a chessboard at which my wife is Deep Blue, the super hardcore chess computer and I am Bobby Fischer, chess loony, driven insane by the game. I am not a racist anti-semite though. This game of cunning and guile is played out with ingredients she doesn’t want to eat, and leftovers. She hides buys she doesn’t want to eat behind the kid’s yoghurts until I forget about them and they become biohazards. I want to keep leftovers, either to give my mum who loves leftovers more than she loves her grandchildren or to freeze. My wife dislikes dinner enough the first time, the idea of round two with it is far too awful a prospect to contemplate. I attempt to hide bowls of old broths, sauces, dressings, leftover meat around the fridge. She tries to throw them out. It’s a cat and mouse game in which she is a super intelligent cat and I am an idiot.

These livers have seemingly begun a Cold War. Screw Perestroika! I am Krushchev! She is one of the Kennedys, but a cat too and my wife all at the same time. I married a feline JFK. That is unimportant now. The livers are in play! I’ll do something with buttermilk and panko breadcrumbs if there’s any I can nick from my mum who loves breading stuff in panko more than she loves her own children. I read a recipe a while ago by the dudes who run Animal resturant in Los Angeles. That sounded nice.

Okay, I am navigating Scandinavia, North Africa, Russia (In my mind) and now California. I live near Chichester for fuck’s sake.

What the hell is this dinner turning into?

Merguez

Dry roasted red onions with brown butter, capers and anchovy

Burnt red cabbage with bleak Nordic yoghurt sauce and roasted buckwheat

Buttermilk fried chicken livers

Christ this is ludicrous. It’s just a Friday night near Chichester, for two people, at home! I’m only cooking the livers because I don’t want to waste them. The merguez because I defrosted them. Everything else because I told myself I would. Maybe I shouldn’t think about this stuff so much. I need another job. Maybe I should just buy a jar of Ragu and cook the shit out of some pasta. God, this is such a First World problem. I should be ashamed of myself.

I will post up the entire menu recipes after I’ve messed them all up tonight. You too can waste your evening in the kitchen cooking a dinner entirely composed of guilt and idiocy! I await a ‘Cook-along With Gordon‘ style show on Channel 4, where I weep and drink and burn stuff while my family moves out, secretly. Gordon’s kitchen is full of D-listers and low ranking Olympic medal winners mooching around making paella and bread pudding. Mine has me, the minnow fish we bought my daughter that refuses to die even though I don’t think the fishbowl has an air supply anymore and I haven’t fed it (Fish loving types; this is artistic license/not true/honestly, when my wife and I are not FridgeFighting we are warring over the fish which I am trying to kill and she is sneakily feeding) in months and NO ONE ELSE because they have all left me to waste my life pondering buckwheat, poultry organs, Boris Spatsky the chess Grandmaster and how much I do actually look like David Baddiel.

Dinner will be served sometime between half seven and two AM. All welcome. If you can’t make it, don’t worry, there will be leftovers. I can guarantee that much.

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