Now, I know you all think I spend my days feasting like a king, and that my cooking is peerless, perfect, inspired, exceptional. That is the impression I like to give. After all, it would hardly do if I wrote here about all the dismal food I have made and eaten. And, to be fair, I do have more successes than outright failures, both eating in and eating out.
When it comes to eating out, I stick to the tried and true - the places that have fed me well, consistently, and to places that come with a recommendation from foodster friends who I trust. And, similarly, when it comes to cooking at home, I either make food that I am comfortable and confident about making, or follow ideas inspired by cooks whose styles I admire and that suit my own style of cooking and eating.
But this is not to say that I don't have some absolute shockers...
Take this week, for instance. I told you about how the highlight of the Petone fair was, for me, finding some fresh egg noodles for a buck fifty - a small victory in a day otherwise filled with mild, and not so mild, disappointment. I was confident I could whip up something pretty good with these as the base of the meal.
Given that I feel as though I have eaten quite a bit of meat lately, and that I try to keep my meat consumption in check, I thought I would make something vegetarian. I had an eggplant (I'm really into them at the moment), some bok choy, a red capsicum, some coriander, and some dried porcini mushrooms, plus the usual kitchen staples - garlic, soy sauce, chilli, sesame oil.
I chop the eggplant and add most of said kitchen staples - I want to make something spicy, sweet, tangy, delicious. I then fry them off in a very hot wok - this is all working a treat. These will go great with the noodles and capsicum and bok choy. I soften and soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water, then retrieve them and think, practically, that I will heat the noodles in the delicious, mushroomy stock water. Hell, I'll steam the bok choy over the top at the same time.
And here is where I come a cropper. In attempting to do too many things at once, in the same pot, even, I have over-complicated things, over-egged the pudding, so to speak. I end up cooking the noodles for too long. They end up gluggy. I serve them anyway - I don't have a Plan B, and they should be okay-ish...
Plus One goes a bit quiet when she dives in. "HMMMMM..." she gurgles through the thick, sloppy, gluey mess. "The noodles are a bit overcooked?" I offer, helpfully. "MMMMM-HMMMM", she agrees, actually unable to speak through the thick gloop of overcooked noodles.
Neither of us finishes the meal. I have some toast. Mmmm-hmmm, indeed.
What has happened?! Have I lost my cooking "mojo"? I have always had a fundamental, underlying belief that pretty well everything I do, even if I balls it up, ends up kinda okay. Tasty, edible, at the very least.
But no. Not this time. It is basically irredeemable. I regret serving it. I should have cut my losses, and cooked some rice. Or maybe we should have gone to Kilim, and got a kebab.
It was a waste of good noodles, and coriander. The only thing that was okay was the eggplant. Neither is this an isolated incident - I feel as though I have been in a form slump; remember the overcooked risotto? Remember when Joe Rokocoko kept getting picked for the All Blacks, even when he wasn't playing well? That's me, man. Oh, God...
And, if I have, indeed, mislaid my cooking mojo - where do I find it again?! How do I get it back? How do I get back to my culinary try-scoring best?
To be continued...
Losing your cooking "thusies" or kitchen mojo - where's that at? Has it happened to you? Where do you look for inspiration to find a way out of your rut?
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