Sunday, 11 December 2011

December 11th - All the best cooks...

Dear Nigel,

I am going to make a supposition which may or may not be true as far as your concerned. But i think that all the best cooks like to eat out and let someone else do the cooking. Sometimes it's because you are able to enjoy the company more without the pressure to perform, to compare cooking styles and ingredients, pinch ideas (and why not?), but mainly so that you can let your hair down and be looked after by someone else for a change.

We had a day like that today. My Mum was here, three of my sons, and myself. I packed them all into the Landrover (complaining, of course, as they prefer something more comfortable), and took them all off to "The Devonshire Arms" at Beeley. This is a wonderful old Peak District pub with loads of charm and character and a  menu to match. I had Partridge with creamy potato and truffle sauce. The poor bird was tiny (as they are) but someone had seen fit to shoot it three times just to make sure it was dead. My teenage sons are learning to have a palate and make choices for themselves. It is lovely to watch them consider the options and move away from that childish state of only wanting a certain brand of junk food or food as a kind of statement of who they are - i only eat pizza etc. Sometimes, it seems as if they are never going to reach that state and that your giving in to their demands has brought up a child who will live solely on junk food or unhealthy or bland foods into old age. So it is nice to see them connecting their brains to their taste buds.

For once, it means they are confined to a space of about 4' x 3' and are thus removed from anything electrical and forced to communicate with you. This they find actually quite enjoyable, as is the action of moving fork to mouth. It is possible to do this at home - and sometimes it even works - but when you are out for dinner there is no being late to the table ( because you're halfway through a game), no exiting early (as you're the only driver), and the table manners you continuously moan about at home suddenly become effortless. Smaller children can be apt to play-up perhaps when out, but older teenagers seem to turn into the sort of people you want them to be. So, for that reason alone, i consider eating out with your family to be worth every penny.

You are feeling the change in the weather and make a three course meal to stuff you full to bursting. I find the  cold snap leaves room for the inevitable sticky toffee pudding, and, like the Readybrek advert, we leave with a warm glow surrounding us. Out to the delights of shopping in Bakewell, and trying to stuff three very reluctant teenage boys into the sort of boots that will keep the snow out. It is a trying time, but with my mum as ally we come away successful, and only one is still moaning all the way back to the car.

Eat today, for tomorrow we diet,


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