Cooking Up A Storm

November 15, 2009


“Why is my brother on TV?”, The Mushroom asked, looking startled.

My Dad raised his head from his school reports to look. “Unless your brother has changed his name to ‘Jacques’ and is now presenting the Weather report for Manitoba, he isn’t, love. Anyway, what are you doing?”

The Mushroom was at the table, poised with pad and pen.

“I am writing our weekly menu.”, she said proudly. My Dad, wisely, left her to it.

The Mushroom has decided to become a cook. Not in the professional sense, you understand, because she is apparently still too busy holding The Baby to work (and this is nonsense. The Baby can walk. Surely this means The Baby can go to school now?).  No, she has decided to become a cook in the ‘Doing Something To Chicken Other Than Just Grilling It. Again’ sense. About time. Frankly, my Iams look more interesting than a lot of the meals she presents to my Dad. And I really don’t want any one else stealing my frigging Iams.

“Right!”, she exclaims proudly, brandishing her pad and pen and looking slightly like a squirrel. “I have written our shopping list. I have planned our menu for the week. I have our recipes. I am good to go!”

My Dad sits up, and puts on his supportive face. He knows that this could get messy, quickly. Every now and again, The Mushroom decides to try something new. Generally, she tries it once, realises she is crap at it, cries, and never does it again. Sometimes this reaction is reasonable, like the time she decided to trial for the England Hockey Team based on the fact that she was ‘really good at hockey at uni’, forgot to wear a sports bra, and apparently spent the entire game feeling very scared and jumping out of the way of the puck. Other times, I can’t help but feel it shows a lack of stamina, like the decision to learn Italian which stumbled at the realisation that many of the words were ‘different’.

This new venture, however, affects my Dad in an integral way. He needs her to be good at this.

“So, what’s on our list then, my beloved?”

“Chickpeas. Millet -”

“Do what?”, he interjects.

“Millet.”

“Light of my darkness”, he says, still smiling his supportive smile, “Millet?”

“Yes. Millet.”

“Why do we need millet?”

The Mushroom consults her list.

“For one of the recipes. It says millet.”

“Do you know what millet is, love?”, he queries, supportive smile fading slightly.

“Yes of course I frigging know what millet is.”, The Mushroom growls, losing most of her squirrel-ish enthusiasm and turning round. My Dad can’t see her face. I can. She has no idea what millet is.

“Right, that’s brilliant!”, my Dad says, panicking slightly, “It’ll be lovely! What else?”

“Quinoa. Flax.Kidney Beans. Lentils – ”

“Is this all for the same dish?”

“No.” The Mushroom’s face filled with self-doubt. “Should it be? ”

“You’re in charge, petal. I’m sure it will all be lovely.  Brilliant. Well done. It will be wonderful. Am very excited.” There is a pause. He’s overdone it slightly. They both know this. They don’t acknowledge it, as that would make it worse.

The Mushroom sighs. She was not cut out for domesticity. From what I can gather, it requires traits such as patience, forward planning, economizing and a general sense of cleanliness to be successful as a housefrau. She is, thus, pretty screwed, as she has none of these. So why, you may be pondering, is she making this zealous effort to be successful as one? I have a theory. This theory is based on the fact that yesterday she went to the post office not once, not twice, but thrice. The Mushroom, I believe, is maybe going a bit mad.

“I wonder where we can get millet from?”, she ponders out loud whilst passing a ball to The Baby who, oddly, is wearing a yellow top and red trousers and thus appears to be dressed as Spain.

“Pet shop?”, replies my Dad. The Mushroom quietly begins to cry.

“I was only joking, love! No, no, don’t get upset!”, my Dad starts to stutter. It goes against the rules for her to cry before she has even tried her new venture.

“I don’t know what millet is.”, she whispered.

My Dad puts his arms around her. The Baby happily throws her ball. I slink out of the room.

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