Thursday, November 09, 2006

Drying out

A full complement of females in the house once again, a warm home-coming provided by a swanky curry. It is possible to cook properly as well as look after two children, but only just. And that rules out anything like, say, a Nine-T-Fve-You-Fucking-Hate or even a phonecall of an evening. I have hardly stopped moving: bending down, lifting, placing, cleaning, wiping, running up steps, chasing along pavements, responding, correcting, acknowledging, not to mention cooking for the little sweethearts. Yesterday I made them a shepherds’ pie of the highest quality, which although looked dry when I retrieved it from the fridge this afternoon, was soon melted into the richest, beefy meal by a minute or two in the microwave.

So, somewhere in between I had managed this morning to trim and score the four chicken thighs I’d picked up at the airport shop two days ago and marinate them in a sweet chilli, fennel and coriander mash; and this afternoon to sweat a few onions, a carrot, parsnip, some ginger garlic and some dried spices (mainly tumeric and coriander) in a heavy pan, which I deglazed with a good glug of pastis and topped up with half pint or so of my latest stock and some tomato puree. Half an hour alter, just before I left for the airport, I switched off the boiling brew and left it to impregnate the Home with a sense of welcome. And we eventually sat down before a neat pile of white rice surrounded with a thick, golden sauce (made from the strained brew made earlier with some full-fat yoghurt and a good inch of creamed coconut) and topped with some rocket and parsley and a crispy thigh and a sloppy slither of roasted red and green pepper on top. A nice, if not revolutionary, departure from the regular spicy stew + rice affair.

But little was said before she toddled on up to bed, exhausted and rough from her holiday and its rum binge -- a “binge” being a event that lies somewhere in between the modern-day accepted definition of “5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more for women per occasion” and the Highland interpretation: a prolonged period lasting up to several months during which the alcoholic turns everything in his or her life over to drinking so as to spend all day every day drinking heavily and working out how to get more drink; all meetings being off and the agony only ceasing when (in the young) the cash and tick run out or (as with the old) the body gives up, comes out in a rash of bright red sores and leaves the alcoholic fighting for his or her life for the following six weeks in a Free Presbyterian hospice cum drying-out clinic.

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