I had been warned about the visit but despite the notice, I had a sense of trepidation. In previous visits, they had certainly put the kitchen through its paces. I say in previous visits but I must warn you that such visits were carried out on an individual basis. The kitchen had never seen them both at one time. What could I do? The afternoons building up to this day were spent scratching my head. Recipe books were scoured, the internet was desperately scrutinised and possibilities were considered.
This was not a time to go for safe options. Of course, they would have been quite acceptable and well appreciated but I wanted to impress. I wanted unctuous layers of rich delicious memorable flavours. I wanted layers of flavour. It had to be complex.
It started the week before. I thought about my favourite flavours. They had to be bold.They had to be imposing. But most of all, they needed to get on. This was not going to be a dish of dispute and confrontation. Like an angry orchestra, they had to play together with fire in their belly. It was to be Mozart’s twenty-fifth, not his twenty-ninth.
Meat. Meat was needed. I lurked around the supermarket with both cunning and stealth. I quietly went about the onerous task of ingredient selection. One by one the items built up in my basket. The request for three pounds of meat was met with a combination of delight and surprise: “Do you want it diced?” “I would like it diced approximately one-centimeter square.” My instruction was unwavering. “Do you need to do any more shopping?” asked the smiling assistant, sharpening her knife with relish. “I’d like to wait,” I replied. Silence ensued as she expertly sliced up the said hunks into perfect dice.
The journey home was slow and deliberate. Usually, I’d be whizzing along the road at an eye-watering eight miles-per-hour. But I wanted to bask in it. I was enjoying the slow deliberation of my selection. The cooking and preparation also started well before the event.
Hours of intense meticulous preparation were accompanied by methodical systematic clearances. My kitchen needed to be organised. I could not possibly function with chef’s detritus swimming all around me.
On the day, the final preparations were made. It was still a heavy task. There was no rest for the military-like precision. The final piece was the creation of the seeded naan breads. Stash and Ian arrived. More old friend therapy. It was like we had met the day before. They ate all the meat. One kilo of tandoori chicken wings, a beef korma and a massive beef rendang were totally demolished by my hungry friends. In the balmy evening, as the light faded, we sat outside my front door chatting about times past. What a night. What a pair of appetites. Ian and Stash: legendary diners.
Thank-you for reading.