It’s not uncommon that a mistake in cooking can lead to a new discovery but my favourite mistake lead to an interest in cooking as an adolescent. It started out as an intentional ‘mistake’ meant as a joke on my parents. Looking back, it was a passive-aggressive attempt to punish them, funny only to me, but it back-fired and they were delighted; not the outcome I had in mind.
My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was about 14 years old. She struggled valiantly against it, keeping her job but when she got home she was very tired. So I ‘started’ dinner; peeling potatoes, getting things in the oven, etc. We had meat loaf weekly and I was shown how to whip an egg, put in some crushed saltines, work it all through the ground beef and press it into a loaf pan.
One evening, early in my culinary career, we were eating the meat loaf when my mom said, “Gaagh, this is really bland. Why don’t you put a little something in it next time for flavour?”
I could hardly wait to make next week’s meat loaf. I had it all planned and could delight myself thinking about how funny it would be; their faces contorting …….. OK, I was a creepy adolescent. I grew.
I put a little of everything we had in it; a dash of every spice and herb in our cupboard. Cinnamon, thyme, cream of tartar, every little container got a shake. Then to the fridge; relish, catsup, jam, HP sauce, weird chutneys used once. Everything I could find for a dollop or dash went into that meatloaf. I remember the anticipation when we sat down to eat and waiting for their first bite.
“Mmmm! This is delicious!” my mom exclaimed in total surprise!
My Dad then took his first bite…… an almost imperceptible nod…… it was good!
I didn’t believe it…… surely they were onto me and playing along. I took a bite and to my complete surprise it was the best meat loaf I had ever tasted.
I didn’t tell them until years later what I did. From that time on I became ‘A Good Cook’ and discovered that you can actually make yourself something delicious!