God. Can we speak frankly? Lockdown has turned my husband into a Fifties housewife and not the Betty Draper sort who always has a fag and a cocktail on the go. That would be weird but potentially amusing whereas the reality is more Stepford Wife meets Marie Kitchen Kondo, and not funny at all.
Remember, a few weeks into lockdown, how we all got seriously into cooking, and everyone ordered a mother and a mandolin and a Thermomix and we were all fannying around in the kitchen way more than usual because there was nowhere else to go? Well, phase two, don’t know if you have found this, He has totally taken over. And while I’m conscious that the goal of lockdown, if there was a goal, was splitting the domestic burden down the middle once and for all and acquainting the previously office bound bloke with normal everyday tasks, e.g. cooking, and making sure He understood that tasks such as cooking were His job too, forever, and not just on those days when he’d got fired up after watching Rick Stein’s Long Weekends, the pendulum has swung way too far in the other direction.
There is so much cooking going on, and the wrong sort of cooking. Must we have three kinds of vegetables - one with chilli and anchovies and one very finely sliced, with garlic and butter? There’s always butter involved, by the way, lots of it and everyone knows you can make Iceland giblets taste divine if you add a tennis ball of butter. There’s always patting something dry with kitchen paper, or marinading with black treacle, and a toasted almonds garnish. Great if you happen to want coquilles Saint Jacques on a Monday in front of the TV. Which nobody does.
Basically the whole weekly menu (and I think we might actually be calling it that now) has been elevated to pop up restaurant standard and the old cook, the cook who has done 99 per cent of the cooking, forever, has been made redundant overnight, like a less than fresh faced TV presenter. Services no longer required.
One of the most irritating things about this new development, and there are a few, is his disregard for the laws of regular home cooking e.g.: make do without the bleeding black garlic; don’t measure everything out to the quarter ounce like a mad professor; if you run out of linguine, chuck in some spaghetti, we are not entertaining Michel Roux, or anyone for that matter. And wouldn’t you agree that if you can’t step away from the oven, or even drag your eyes from the hob while making supper, let alone answer basic questions such as ‘was that the door?’ that’s not normal cooking, is it, really?
Most annoyingly, the children have started asking him for recipes. And he is supplying them, followed up with clarification phone calls: ‘with the sauce vierge remember you are warming it through, not cooking it.’ Urgh. Horrible. They do call him Robomaid, and joke about how Robomaid might short circuit if we run out of red wine vinegar, but the fact is they have stepped over me to get to him. They prefer the no corner’s cut, warmed plates (I kid you not) Fifties Housewife Man about the kitchen. Even if you could cut the air with a warm palette knife while it’s happening, they have chosen His way.
And it doesn’t stop there. It’s like Sleeping With The Enemy in our house now. He’s invented kitchen rules like small mugs in front of big mugs. And saucepans stacked in order of size rather than just shoved blindly into the great metal birdsnest cupboard. There’s a lot of ‘have you finished with this’ lid replacement, if you know what I mean.
I should be grateful. He’s certainly doing his bit. But be careful what you wish for, I say.