I've just been talking to a friend on MSN and a thought/memory cropped up. Thought I'd share because I know I radiate genius. Cough. And it's only fair that I share with you some of my foolish, earlier ways....
You've all heard about the day I thought a venison patty was a burger that had gone off. Well there was even less informed stuff before that.
I was brought up in England, mostly on take-away food. My grandmother did the cooking until she died when I was 12. Good food, very small repertoire. Mostly stew and curry. It didn't kill me. Then my grandfather cooked for 2 years, mostly sausages and pies, then he died (no, it wasn't the pies).
Then it was down to me and my mother, who couldn't cook. So I ate a lot of things she picked up in boxes on the way home. Sometimes it was even still hot.
But the thing is, I started learning to cook at the age of 12. And me poor mother wasn't able to teach me, and she admitted it. We had one cookery book, which was rather old, I think she got it as a wedding present in 1953, but the recipes were very middle-class. It included things like "Raised Game Pie" and "Stuffed Sweetbreads". But I got friends' mothers to teach me stuff, and I had excellent lessons at school, although, as I'm sure my dear husband would be only to happy to tell you, my cooking was still.......experimental, when I got married, I fed him better than his mother did, and he knew he had picked a good one.
Now, it's important to note here that I learned what I learned. It certainly wasn't comprehensive. It was whatever cropped up. So there were holes in my knowledge. That you could drive a truck through. Actually.
Which brings me back to my conversation earlier. I was teasing her about spaghetti sauce, i.e. there being no spaghetti in it. Like there's no dog in hot dogs, or buffalo in wings. And usually no shepherd in shepherd's pie, but I'm never 100% sure on that one. The point being, it's a tomato sauce because it has tomatoes in it.
And I mentioned.........
Only once...ONCE...in all my 46 years have I ever eaten spaghetti with just tomato sauce on the top. I was quite young, in my late teens, and I went "YEUK! There's no meat in this!". Unfortunately I did this in quite a nice Italian restaurant and made a complete *** of myself.
Italian food was almost totally unknown to my very, very English family, I think. I had never been given any at home, but I had had Spag Bol. I need to explain that to many of you. In Britain, somebody, somewhere, possibly soldiers coming back from post-war Italy...who knows....took a local dish from Bologna with them. It was known therefore as Spaghetti Bolonese, which they pronounced wrongly, and finally gave up and shortened to Spag Bol, which it is known as to this day. Disgusting but there it is.
In the 1970's it was (other than pizza) virtually the only Italian dish working-class Brits had even heard of. In fact for many people it was just known AS "Italian", as in "What's for tea tonight love?" "Oh, I'll do Italian". Meant you were getting Spag Bol.
However, I should add that what was served was not exactly the same dish as served in Bologna. In exactly the same way that Americans have Italian-American food which is NOT authentic Italian food, the Brits sort of Britishised Spag Bol. But it became a classic anyway.
So I'd had that. And I liked it. And I was used to it. I'd eaten it hundreds of times. I'd also had lasagne, canneloni etc but all with the same very meaty sauce.
Hence, when served a perfect authentic Italian tomato sauce on spagetti in a restaurant, I wasn't impressed. I was in fact so unimpressed I have never eaten it again. I am fully aware that there are divine tomato sauces out there. I can make them. I use them. I just don't serve them on pasta, alone.
I'm not a vegetarian and if I HAVE TO eat vegetarian food I want it a bit more substantial than that.
So, there you have it.