Thursday, 28 January 2010

In which I cook a meal and want a medal for it

I followed a link a couple of days ago which took me to an article about how food blogs were dominating the Bloggies this year, and how even some those that purported not to be food blogs had food names and probably a hidden food agenda. Like this one. Ha! I thought. If only she knew. But then I posted a recipe yesterday. And now this. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy and it's frankly terrifying. Life - my life at least - is too short to soak quinoa. I would only forget about it for a month and it would suffocate me in my bed.

Reading the Guardian on online in bed this morning, I clicked idly on this and something cracked. I wanted it. It looked delicious, and like proper food. On child weeks I eat children's leftovers, usually with my fingers off their plates like some kind of carrion hunting vulture. On childless weeks, I subsist on my usual combo of toast and Bonne Maman crème caramels. But this.. This looked good. It didn't look specially hard. I wanted it. It's not like I have never cooked, or fear cooking. Before having children I was perfectly au fait with the whole, applying heat to raw foodstuffs thing. But something about the process of catering for 4 people night in night out for 7 years has sucked any love of cooking out of me. Now, however, this pleasingly savoury bowl of noodles was speaking to me. There's no Wagamama in Belgium, needless to say, or this post wouldn't exist.

Brain Twin was encouraging when I told her I was planning to Cook A Meal. Just for me. "I loved making elegant meals for myself when I was single". Our brain twinnage obviously broke down here, since my idea of an elegant meal is putting my toast on a plate. We got sidetracked for a while by the idea of cooking and eating a seagull (this arises from this novel I am reading, where the hero does exactly that. I have suspension of disbelief issues with it, because the hero is weak and starving and we all know that seagulls are the size of family saloon cars and fucking mean).

"Do you think a miso marinade would work for seagull?"

"I think you'd need something a bit stronger, it'd be really gamey. Maybe miso and sake?"

"Ha! Drunken seagull".

But finally she sent me off to shop for, and cook my dinner comme une grande.

First stop: the Asian supermarket by the Bourse. This already made me happy, because it was a bit like being back in Chinatown; mysterious deep frozen body parts, that really particular Asian supermarket smell and noodles as far as the eye can see. I wandered happily for twenty minutes and emerged with a random selection of possibly useful ingredients. Shopping done. That bowl shaped thing in my bag? No, that's not a bowl. No. It's, erm, a snapping turtle. Yes. For the stock.

On my return home, looking at the recipe again, I realised I was trying to make 'udon noodles with miso, walnut and aubergine' with only one of the title ingredients (the noodles). A trip to the supermarket that even despair avoids like the plague: Delhaize. The likelihood of finding even one of the requisite forgotten ingredients seemed low, but I felt I shouldn't give up. I wandered the aisles pitifully, casting longing glances at my faithful friends, the parma ham and the crème caramels. Disaster:

I mean, I didn't have any particular belief they would have miso, but to see that they actually HAD had it, just didn't have any more, was very cruel. Better luck, thankfully, with walnuts and aubergines. No spring onions. Bon.

I assembled my ingredients and tried to take a picture of them. The camera has no battery. I got distracted by several specks of dust and failed to take any photos until I reached this stage:

The aubergines, frying. 250ml is a shitload of oil. If it tastes nice, that will be why. The frying pan is in SHOCK. It hasn't been used for anything but warming ready made supermarket pancakes for weeks.

Here they are, draining or something. Ugly fuckers.

Next, the shallots. The shallots were exceptionally unphotogenic, especially once I got distracted again and left them to burn. The dinner was starting to look almost as brown as that horrible time I tried to cook the contents of the doomed vegetable box. Not as bad as Cuisine de Terror yet though. Mmmmm. Brown.

Because the brown-ness was not yet at its maximum, I toasted the walnuts. When I say 'toasted', of course I mean 'burnt'. At this point I was thinking wistfully about the sweetly plump pots of Bonne Maman goodness sitting in the fridge, requiring no more than a swift tug on their jolly red and white chequered foil lids.

Next! Noodles.

Big fat wormlike noodles, soaking in a sort of improvised marinade in an unauthorised but seemingly necessary departure from the recipe which asked me cavalierly to 'prepare the noodles according to the instructions'. THERE ARE NO INSTRUCTIONS. In the absence of miso I considered and rejected Speculoos spread, Nutella and gin, instead opting for a vague assemblage of stuff bought in the Asian supermarket. Mirin, dashi, sesame oil, soy. Some other stuff I can't read the label of.

Finally I put the worms in a bowl, top with the Brown-ness and garnish with cucumber and, in the absence of spring onions, coriander.


It was actually really quite delicious, the No-Miso Miso aubergine noodles. I have eaten pretty much all of the 'Serves 4' recipe. However the kitchen looks horrific, and I will probably smell of frying for a good 48 hours. I draw no conclusions at all from this. However I have cooked dinner. Yay for me.


Helen Brocklebank said...

actually, looked extremely nice .better than my tea of laughing cow x

S said...

i loved reading this post. the dish- it's brill. you have improvised the recipe- now you can call it your own. oh, and buon appetito. x

Kerzo said...

Just to let you know, there IS a Wagamama in Antwerp, but doesn't look like you need it anymore! Love your Belgian Waffle by the way.......

Lisa-Marie said...

On a school trip to Arran(off west coast of Scotland) I was eating chips on the deck of the ferry(this was long before the days of 'health-promoting schools') and a seagull bit the flesh bit between my thumb and pointing finger- It bled, ALOT. I dropped my chips and having just bit me, it stole them.

I fucking hate seagulls, they are evil spawn of Satan.

carolinefo said...

I thought we'd already discussed the inadvisability of EVER trying to cook aubergines. Did Delia ever cook aubergines? I don't think so. Nigella may have seduced an aubergine, but that's another story entirely.

The aubergine is Satan's Vegetable.

So you've just eaten Satan's Vegetable. With Worms.

Go back to McDonald's. They have free wifi.

ineke said...

the asian store near La Bourse was closed down a couple of years ago for weeks when health inspection found about hundred carcasses of mice and other strange little unknown animals all over the store and most food turned out to be out of date for like 200 years but no one knew as it was written in an asian language. there you go, happy i told you after your diner? :-)

Em said...

I take it you're not reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull??

MargotLeadbetter said...

The denizens of Leadbetter Towers have enjoyed sausage, chips and beans this evening.

I am impressed with your fancy ways.

JPM said...

looks gorgeous and delish.

SabinePsynopsis said...

Yay for you! Blogging has been the demise of cooking (an activity I used to enjoy) for me. Now I've arrived at the state where 'toast on plate' equals 'proper food', unless the man cooks - which he does duely, otherwise we would all starve. Sometimes I hear him mumbling: 'You used to be such a good housewife...'

the polish chick said...

congratulations on besting the aubergine. i knew you had it in you.

Morgan said...

Good for you! Cooking for yourself is one of the most luxurious (and delicious) things a person can do for themselves. And your meal looks beautiful!

frau antje said...

We have a lot of seagulls out front, please take them. I think they must come inland for the herring trucks in town, and not just to annoy me, do you think they're that mean?

Could really do without them and the trucks. I prefer the birds that make you wonder what they're thinking.

Ali said...

You know why that all worked out don't you?
Pretty bowls, without them it would have been dreadful.
Well done.

Anonymous said...

I congratulate you! I went to the same link about blog names that are about food! Of course 3limes was right there near Waffles. If they only knew! I too wrote a blog post recently about my lack of domestic inclinations, except I never cooked anything to balance it out!
Looks Yummy by the way. Would you do it again?
(Oh and of course I voted for you. )

Bryony said...

I had a friend who worked for the RSPB who told me seagulll was the most inedible on earth did he know? Your meal looked delish

WrathofDawn said...

"Before having children I was perfectly au fait with the whole, applying heat to raw foodstuffs thing. But something about the process of catering for 4 people night in night out for 7 years has sucked any love of cooking out of me."

Oh God! Thank you for posting this! I thought I was the only one...

Teena Vallerine said...

yay for you indeed sweetheart - happy new year - now do you have a recipe for noodles and chocolate?! t.x

softinthehead said...

Well done you and I have to say i think your worms looks much tastier than whatsisname's anemic ones.

Fd said...

its important before you go to the wagamama in Antwerp (less than 5 mins walk from the trainstation) that you know not to expect all your favourites to be on the menu. it seems the belges in flemish land have different tastes. tastes that dont include chocolate wasabi fudge cake. which is criminal. i planned a whole month around escape from brussels on a particular saturday to eat amai udon and the cake. i was very sad on the train home and the next day and the next. eventually i taught myself to make it. its really not the same though. my bowls are less pleasing on the eye than yours. maybe that's the problem?

FIona said...

There IS a Wagamama... in Antwerp, in the UGC complex a few metres from the central station... but don't have the sushi.

SUEB0B said...

It looks pretty good. You should have come over. I bought some miso about 3 years ago and I'm almost sure it does not ever go bad.

Bonus comment: Goldie killed a seagull. She snatched it out of the air at the beach. What a dog. Here is a photo with her and the remaining pile of limp feathers. Do not click if you don't have morbid curiosity:

Waffle said...

SueBOB Of course I looked at the photo. Respect to Goldie, taking on a seagull and winning. Even the gull corpse looks really really pissed off. Love.

Waffle said...

And THANK YOU all the people who told me about Antwerp Wagamama. All this and soon a Starbucks too (if we give a shit, on balance, we don't)?? If only I was allowed to ever go anywhere but the zoo I would be right there.

bevchen said...

Oooh, it looks delicious! I've just eaten but now I want noodles and aubergine!

TrulyMadlySweetly said...

Wagamama sauces are now stocked in Sainsbury's BW. I've only tried the spicy chilli men but only had to add chicken,noodles a bag of stir fry vegetables. Easy peasy!

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