I like cooking puddings. I like making cakes.
They follow rules. They celebrate structure. They are science in action. Science that smells nice. Science you can eat afterwards. Just observe this soothing set of instructions and everything will be OK. You will not be expected to make any decisions or express any kind of preference.
I do not like cooking main courses or starters or anything you might call 'proper food'. The stuff you have to eat in order to actually stay alive. I do not enjoy cooking my dinner every evening when I get home from work. I don't find it therapeutic; it does not help me unwind.
This kind of savoury endeavour requires you to exercise an exhausting degree of judgement, with its endless requests for seasoning to taste and vague terms like a 'small bunch' of herbs. Small in comparison to what? A pea? Or Luxembourg? A recipe often calls for a 'handful' of something. I have petite hands for my height. Where does that leave me? Apart from with a lot of gloves that are too big for me, and a sense of precariousness when holding a pint glass in one hand.
Some individuals revel in this more freewheeling side of food preparation. With their flair and their instincts, they love being a utensil-wielding maverick, seizing any soupçon of recipe initiative and smugging: 'You know what this needs?' [Swoops effortlessly into fridge/spice rack/walk-in larder.] 'This!'
I fear and resent these people.
I cooked lunch today for the two Ms Rs. The occasion was orchestrated for two reasons. Firstly, so we could wile away as much time as we liked chatting over two courses without being harassed by well-meaning waiting staff. And also lie down on the carpet and stroke our stomachs between courses, which I understand is frowned upon in some of the more upmarket restaurants.
But secondly, and more importantly, so I could have an excuse to make crème brûlée…
…which came out pretty OK, especially considering I forgot it was in the oven and went and spent half an hour in the bathroom cleaning the mould off my shower curtain. (Yes, that is the kind of thrill ride you can expect chez Jones on a Bank Holiday weekend.) Which meant the créme brûlée was pretty freaking brûlée, even before I had officially brûléed it.
Mostly, on the odd occasions I cook dinner for people, I can summon up the nervous energy to slog away at some savoury offering, for convention's sake. I do understand it's not acceptable to serve three courses when those three courses are a sweet biscuit starter, main course of cake and pudding of pudding.
Yet, should I have a family, I am genuinely concerned about providing nutritious food for a group larger than one on a continued daily basis.
"Mummy, what's for tea?"
"Mummy, why can't we have cereal for breakfast like everyone else?"
"Because Mummy likes to use her kitchen blowtorch in the mornings."
"Mummy, these sausages taste funny."
"That's because they are made of marzipan."
Of course, most children would be excited by the idea of eating sweet things at every meal. Until, that is, they developed anaemia, rickets, and no longer had the strength to pull themselves up the climbing frame at school.
Who will feed my children? Feed them proper food, I mean.
It is another fear for the files.