Monday, 26 July 2010

The Way To A Man's Heart . . .

There are many excellent food blogs on the web, too many to mention by name here. There are many bloggers of a more general nature who occasionally treat us to a tried and tested recipe of their own and the comments are always appreciative, the commentators promising to try it out for themselves. I don’t keep track of how many do.

Tales of cookery disasters are less frequent.

I like cooking, not so much the daily catering aspect of it, rather more the entertaining aspect, the playing around with recipes aspect. When I had to stop paid employment for health reasons and Beloved took over as my main private breadwinner, cooking became one of my hobbies. In other words, I learned to cook in middle age.

Until then, right from the very beginning, in various of my incarnations, for many meals we made do with the deep freeze aisle in supermarkets. Which is where I bought my first ever chicken, frozen and, no doubt, not free-range, something not to be thought of nowadays.

So there I was, a new housewife, planning to cook a proper meal; roast chicken with all the trimmings, a "proper Sunday dinner". The chicken needed unwrapping, I could do that. It needed defrosting, I hadn’t reckoned on that; I’d just give it a bit extra time in the oven. The trimmings were easy to do, all of it oven-ready, vegetables from the freezer and potatoes. I could do potatoes.

When it came to dishing up, the chicken actually looked nicely brown, the potatoes were a bit soggy, having sat in the liquid from the frozen chicken, but at least they were cooked.

It was while the man in my life in those far off days carved the chicken that the surprise came: poking his fingers into the cavity, a look of utter disgust spread across his face. “What on earth is this”, he said, as he pulled out a small package: the chicken giblets, still neatly tucked inside their plastic bag,

How was I to know, nobody told me.

Photo Tjalf Sparnaay
"Supermarket Chicken"


  1. Oh Friko, I have the same story from the ONLY time I tried to cook a turkey at Thanksgiving. No wonder we get along.

  2. I think we could all hold our hands up to this one - even though we know we should look to check, it's still easy to miss the giblets when in a rush!

  3. This is a lovely story Friko! I remember a girl i worked with (30 odd years ago) would never cook roast chicken because she couldn't bring herself to reach into the cavity and pull out that little plastic bag!

  4. I admit it took me a time or two to be able to handle a raw chicken and prepare it for cooking without the most horrible look on my face. It seems back in my dim memory I did the very same thing.

  5. You are not alone (obviously.) One of my sisters-in-law did the same thing with her first Thanksgiving turkey.

  6. Yes, you are in good company. My mother did exactly the same thing. She also tried to cook a pudding in the pressure cooker, by placing the mixture in a plastic bowl. An acrid stench was the first clue to dessert being 'off'.

  7. Cooking disasters are universal, but no one thinks to photograph them.

  8. I thought the chicken was still going to be frozen in the middle!! Good that it didn't put you off entertaining forever.

    This reminds me a bit of the roti de boeuf that my wasband cooked for guests, all French, and careful not to overcook it. It wasn't saignant, , it wasn't bleue it was plain raw. It went back to the kitchen three times before we could finally eat.

  9. LOL Friko, I soooo sympathize! This is exactly the kind of thing I'd do..... :D

  10. We have all been there, - I bet even Julia Child had some early experiences in her kitchen!
    My own comes from how to eat an artichoke properly, many years ago. It didn't dawn on me why others at the table had a nice little pile of "partially" eaten leaves left...not I, for I had consumed the entire thing & couldn't understand the allure of this vegetable. But I am a quick study now and have grown to love artichokes. Age brings wisdom...:o)

  11. I think I did that with my first turkey.

    "I like cooking, not so much the daily catering aspect of it, rather more the entertaining aspect, the playing around with recipes aspect."

    I agree with you here. I tire of the daily task of coming up with ideas for dinner, but love when I'm cooking for a party or special meal.

  12. What doesn't fatten will fill :0)

  13. You should have lived in England in those days. I have lived here 30 years and never, ever once bought a chicken in this country with the giblets (turkey, yes; chicken, no). Have you? Please tell me where you shop!

    I long for that bag of giblets! I can't think what they do with them. Pet food? When I could make such lovely stock... and suck the livers myself... yum yum

  14. Oh how many of us have done that - I know I did years ago!

  15. marciamayo - no. 1
    jinksy - no. 2

    madamebutterfly - looks like you could.

    ellenabbott - no. 3
    Vicki Lane - at one remove - no. 4
    Martin H - at one remove - no. 5

    Lorrie - does that mean you don't have any?

    Deborah - Do you cook?

    RA - no. 6

    taylorsoutback - the same chap who dug the bag out of the chicken introduced me to artichokes, (he was Greek); sorry, still can't see the allure, except when they come in jars, in olive oil, as an appetiser.

  16. Midlife Jobhunter - no. 7
    Absolutely, It's fun spending a day in the kitchen, making special things, artistic things, attractive things, pleasurable things. Daily catering is just catering, no imagination needed.

    mollygolver - it will?

    Duchess of Omnium - that's just it, I did. We never had a chicken back home. I didn't even like the plasticky tasting thing then. And every frozen supermarket chicken had giblets in a bag. Don't they do that anymore? I buy my chickens from the butcher now and there I ask for giblets.

    Marilyn - no. 8

  17. Been there - done that too.
    My best story involves pasta, a new husband who told me he didn't like 'bland food' and a bottle of dried chili peppers.
    It also involved lots and lots of cool water, yogurt and a load of sauce pitched straight into the garbage.

  18. Hehe. Been there. Done that. Would it kill them to put a big notice on the wrapper that the giblets are inside?

  19. I do, although with uneven results, I must say. French ingredients are so much tastier that I am more motivated to cook over here, but I like to wing it, change recipes, skip measuring - that sort of thing. I'm sure you can imagine how that sometimes turns out.

  20. Learning anything has to start somewhere!!! I thought for sure that it would not have cooked safely all the way through if still partially frozen.

  21. Dear Friko: This is totally amazing and almost unbelievable! Maybe I am being sterotypical in my dx but I thought that people were born sous chefs with wooden spoon in mouth on the other side of the pond! I have never known such exquisite chefs. So how did you hide, all those long years from your epicurian heritage? (dont feel bad we're the same age!) Not in the pantry as a child? What was it like having this gastronomic world open up to you after your executive stint or after leaving the business world? This should be good! Das Goot!

  22. Pondside - Don't get me started on spices. I once cooked rice for my dad and he almost spat it out, saying: 1/2 pound of rice and 2 pounds of spice. He exaggerated, but the dish was truly inedible.

    Argent - no. 9, No, it wouldn't. perhaps they prefer new cooks to make a fool of themselves.

    Deborah - I love winging it, now that I know how to do it. You learn what works and what doesn't.

    chiccoreal - well that's a reply and a half!

    My problem is that I left Germany to study in the UK before I ever learned to cook. When I came here, the national 'cuisine' was still haphazard and very English, i.e. tasteless, overcooked, flavourless stodge. Things have changed tremendously since then.
    I now love cooking, experimenting and eating and have adapted many
    family recipes.

  23. Funny post, Friko. But you know, as I was sitting here trying to remember, when I was in England studying and staying with a family in Essex I don’t think I was served chicken even once. I did not think they had chickens in England then - just roast beef, which is why the French called the English “les roastbeefs.” ? I did get a couple of overcooked lamb chops, but never chicken – but that was a long time ago and as you say, cuisine has improved. When I needed a palatable meal I would go to the local Indian restaurant. I was so thin then…sigh.
    My mother was so worried that she would send me cheese in the mail and I had to hide it in my suitcase not to insult the mother of that family. She constantly came and opened my window as she said that she could not comprehend why there was such a peculiar smell….


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