PARENTS are funny aren't they? Well mine are anyway. As regular readers will know, about nine months ago I moved back in with my folks following an illness and have had to adjust to the sometimes frustrating situation of living once more with Mammy and Daddy Dunne.
So as not to be too much of a burden, I pay rent money, some of the bills and generally buy my own groceries and I've also set up my little home office here in my room so that I have an oasis of calm to escape to if it all gets too much. (Right, maybe oasis of calm is pushing it considering that right now the place is coming down with clutter mainly empty Coke cans and crisp packets as well as five million OK! magazines, but you get what I mean.)
Last week, to prove yet again what a great daughter I am, I offered to make dinner for the three of us, including dessert, virtually unheard of in our house on a weekday. Trifle on a Sunday, or perhaps an apple tart, is perfectly fine, but on a weekday? Do you think we're made of money?
Anyway, like the good Catholic parents they are, they reluctantly agreed to eat whatever I made, lying through their teeth that it all sounded 'lovely' though Daddy Dunne did try to mumble something in protest which was swiftly silenced by Mammy Dunne via a dig to the ribs.
The thing you have to understand about my parents is that they think a bit of parsley on their plate in a restaurant is the height of sophistication. Anything that has a word of French in the title or anything in italics on a menu sends them into a spin of indecision, even if it's only soup au mushroom
in our local hotel. They have plain tastes and they like plain food. And I do mean plain. So, absolutely no garlic, spices, herbs, sauces, infusions, chillies, peppers, oils, vinegars...or..anything really. Meat and two veg is fine, once it's veg they recognise and can pronounce, anything with more than two syllables is a no-no (cab-bage, car-rott, tur-nip are all grand you see, but as-par-a-gus is not).
So I scoured my cookbooks (all three of them) so I did looking for inspiration, dismissing anything that seemed in any way exotic, even a gorgeous looking lemon chicken which both of them thought looked a bit 'yeh know...complicated like'. I finally settled on a sausage and potato bake with roasted vegetables followed by an apple crumble. Great, nice and plain, yet a little different to what they usually eat on a daily basis I thought, what could possibly go wrong?
It all went downhill from there. The recipe called for Italian herb sausages, which I knew neither of the Dunnes would eat so I substituted Denny's finest butcher sausages instead. It called for garlic, which I left out and it also called for rosemary which I snuck into the house telling them it was Holy Palm the parish priest had given me. The recipe also said that the dish should take 40 minutes to cook but in reality took an hour and 15 minutes, as I’d overlooked the vital ‘par boil the potatoes’ stage.
It turns out you need Italian herb sausages for a reason, cos when you use other normal sausages, the inside comes out of the skin onto the dish, sticking to the edge resulting in a burned mass of sausage meat. It turns out that without the garlic, it’s just ordinary roast potatoes and it also turns out that rosemary burns very quickly scattering little bit bits of charred stuff throughout your meal.
With a flourish (hours later) I served them up burnt sausage mass with roasties and bits of charred rosemary….and they ate every bit! It’s amazing where a bit of mournful whimpering will get you and I watched in amazement as they devoured every mouthful, pausing only to grimace slightly and churn out an unconvincing ‘mmmmmm’.
Even I have to admit, it was bloody horrible and I’d eat my own arm so I would, so that’s saying something. We’re still picking the rosemary out of our teeth.
I think they were just so grateful that I was actually DOING something instead of mooning about the place that they seized it with both hands and went along with it, charred mass of shite notwithstanding, which was lovely.
So parents are funny, but you gotta love them eh? Next week I’m thinking of forcing them to eat pasta (‘Jaysis, not foreign muck’) so I’ll keep you posted.
Oh and just in case you were wondering, the apple crumble went down a treat and the ‘mmmmm’s at the dessert stage were much more convincing! (I may be no Nigella Lawson, but I make a good tart!)
Pic representing me slaving over a hot stove borrowed from: http://www.muckross-house.ie/library_files/30spic9.jpg