Wednesday, February 17

The Week In Review

Last Thursday
Email from Chanel Lady telling me that I was not chosen to cook for them this summer – Hoorah!

Email from Desperate Lady needing an emergency cook next week - Hoorah!

Decree Absolute at The Crazy White House

CWH Lady and I had a brief and unsuitable relationship, like one of those Britney Goes To Las Vegas ones. Once I’d announced that 'we could no longer go on with this madness', the last weeks of our affair became a peculiar tentative marriage of convenience, I needed her money and she couldn’t imagine surviving without a cook. I tried to be honest and constructive about why we were not meant to be but ended up saying a lot of ‘It’s not you it’s me’ kind of things like:
The British are so innately slovenly, I could never achieve your high South African standards*

there were so many things that I couldn’t even begin to say to her.

Smell is so important, yet I repeatedly fail to acknowledge this: Household odours are very distinctive; a mix of foodstuffs, heating source and cleaning products combined with children, laundry (often dirty) and pets; this household’s particular mixture set me on edge the minute I walked over the threshold.

My husband comes to London and submits to weekend of eating, visiting curio shops and art galleries, concedes that cinemas seem more comfortable here and that it’s fun to look at art and other people and sundry weird stuff, says he will think about making second visit later in year.

Baby Sister and I meet up, I am initially drunk merely with freedom from CWH Lady, but then we go to Italian restaurant and try the Prosecco...

In the evening I make another attempt to appreciate Chekov, Three Sisters at the Lyric, Hammersmith. Am I the only person who finds this man an utter bore? The reviews called the production Lively, Modern and Bold, I saw irritating people moaning around a table and left at the interval.

Visit my cousin, we go for beans on toast at nearby café, he is blind and I suddenly become acutely aware of roadworks, wonky pavements full of deep puddles, stupidly placed bollards and dog shit.

Turn up equipped with supper for Desperate Lady (new client), she just wants nice food on the table. Her house has an Aga and a woodstove and smells of rice pudding, it makes me ache with pleasure.

I made an Easy Chocolate Mousse
Bring 300ml double cream to boil, take away from heat and add 200 grms of broken-up dark chocolate (70% cocoa), beat together until all chocolate melted.

Transfer mix to a bowl set over another bowl of iced water and add a further 300ml of double cream, whip up into soft peaks

at this point, personally I would stop and eat this now, but if you want to make a mousse out of it beat up 2 large egg whites in a separate bowl until you have stiff peaks, pour in 100 gm sugar gradually, beating all the while until you have soft meringue, fold this into the chocolate mix and eat as soon as you need to.

* that is quite true, I routinely have to clear a festering beast or toxic substance, such as lead shot, off the work surface before I can roll out my pastry, it is very easy to leave an upper class British kitchen in better condition than I found it.


  1. Quite a week so far. AND your husband might visit again! :¬)


  2. "Household odours"

    Reeking of cleaning agents bothers me. Makes me think of the smell of overly sanitized public toilets.

  3. Her house has an Aga and a woodstove and smells of rice pudding, it makes me ache with pleasure.

    this made me smile, sugar! for years i have lusted for a la cornue range. *sigh* i was able to sit in at a cooking class (as an observer only) for the cooker and it was heavenly! but i digress, i am glad the week has passed and you've begun anew! we should do a countdown for the return of husbands! xoxoxo

  4. I wonder whether the rejection from Chanel Lady husband and hand related...

  5. Sounds like a wonderful week so far. Don't fret about the White House Lady. She's the exception and not the norm. Cheers for a great ending to the week (I know it's only Wednesday, but I'm dreaming!)


  6. you absolutely have to think about writing a book abou these esperiences. interspersed with recipes and horror tales of lead shot.

  7. Your weekend with the husband sounds perfect. As does your idea of eating the chocolate dish at the pre-moussed stage

  8. Pull yourself together Lulu, you'd like Chekhov fine if he'd had any cooks in his plays I bet, his characters are no whinier than your employers and more self-aware.

  9. No, you're not the only person who finds Chekov an utter bore. (And I never know quite why I don't like him...)

    Speaking of making deserts, I was very pleased with myself on 14th Feb this year: when icing some heart-shaped gingerbread biscuits we'd made, I remembered to put some egg-white in the icing to make it more shiny :-)

  10. I don't understand why I missed the post you linked to - the interview with the husband trying to lighten the tone of the impeccably dressed woman's interrogation. Sorry about that. If I had a Chanel suit I wouldn't wear it round the house - it would only be donned two minutes before going out and taken off equally quickly upon returning.

    anyway I am glad you didn't end up with them and you are now for a little while in a house that smells of rice pudding (as opposed to ours which now smells of broccoli - do you have any tips for when one is cooking brassica? I did once read of boiling a small amount of vinegar to remove the veggy smell but all that happened is that the house then smelled (smelt?) of both things)

  11. No more CWH lady! Hooray! (P.S. I was born in Hammersmith.)

  12. When I've been put off by the smell in a new apt, first thing I do--heat up olive oil in a skillet and saute 3 or 4 gloves of garlic.

    ... then carry the pan around like a censer, gently waving it back and forth and humming, "Allium Sativum be braised!"

    Short of baking bread, best air freshener going!

  13. (Giggling heartily) and I thought I was the only one to find Chekov a bore. Although from time to time I've almost found him depressing. Went to 'the seagull or gulls or what ever) at the Opera House years ago ... even the fact of being at the Opera House didn't make up for the boredom of the play. Guessed I just wasn't cultivated enough to appreciate it back then. Now I would rather be cultivated with a glass of wine over anything else, including Benny Hill; before Anton and I ever meet again ;-) YAY for the AGA and that aching pleasure!!!

  14. Map - AND your husband might visit again!
    yeah, but he's always fibbing ;)

    xl - most cleaning agents make me sneeze

    Sav - we should do a countdown for the return of husbands!
    Sounds like a good game - I'm on!

    Glory - the rejection from Chanel Lady more likely down to my glazed expression at interview

  15. Scribe - I have a good feeling that the weekend will be good too - hope yours is excellent!

    Screamish - you absolutely have to think about writing a book
    I like the idea of telling Horror Stories

    Nursey - we are clearly very compatible in the pudding department

    Inky - Do you not get enough whining in your daily life Inky - is that why you like Chekov - to top up your whine deficit?

    Gadjo when icing some heart-shaped gingerbread biscuits we'd made, I remembered to put some egg-white in the icing to make it more shiny
    You are the most romantic person I know - I bet she appreciates it, you softy

    Frenchie - I suspect she had a room full of Chanel Suits

    I think Jacob's air deodoriser plan is a great one, the other good one is to make rice pudding - with lots of nutmeg on.

    Synchy - I never knew you were a Londoner

    Jacob - I love your recipe - and especially your incantation

    Ange - Hah - I knew I wasn't the only one!

    You'd love the Aga house

  16. Hoorah for you. Actually, we would say "Hurray" on this side of the Atlantic but I was able to translate. I hope Desperate Lady turns into something good.

  17. Jesus you had a wonderweek. I was just insane all week. Plus I had some cold pizza last night.

  18. What did you do with the cold pizza - I sellotape one on each foot and skate down the road to the shops - is that what you did?

  19. K - Hurray indeed and I can't call her desperate as she isn't any more - we are having an Aga saga

  20. I moved to Australia with my family in 1974 when I was 14 (yeah, I'm 50 now). Not a good age to be uprooted and transplanted at such a distance from one's native soil. Whatever. I recently tasted rice pudding made with coconut milk - mmmmmm.

  21. I've just spent a whole week cleaning my house, for visitors, due to the fear of household odours – you just don't know! Now I can't get the thought of – thank you syncopated eyeball – rice pudding made with coconut milk out of my head. I'll have to make some as soon as they've gone.

    Sound's like you had an interesting week, X

  22. It was considered a frippery when I did it but when she saw the finished result, yes, she did :-)

  23. Interesting week and the mousse sounds like something I could make...and eat!! Maybe your husband should come around more often??

  24. When I was a kid delivering newspapers, that was the thing that struck me the most: the smell of people's homes. I had winners and losers, favourites and hold-your-breath-ers, places full of life and coffins with a sidewalk and shingles.

  25. M. DeFarge has ceased visiting London. The excitement of it all proved too much for him and now I just send him postcards.

  26. Gadj - I love fripperies - so glad she does too.

    Mr Jelly - Easiest mousse in the world - is there a Mrs Jelly? - make one for her

    Mr Red - That's the start of a story I want to read

    Mme Def - postcards - so much more convenient

  27. That was a busy week... and I am totally with you on the household smells!!

  28. With one bound she was free! Aga Lady sounds good, there's a lot to be said for a house smelling of rice pudding.

    Mine smells of dust, machine oil from the faulty electric heater I really should do something about and tomato leaves singeing on the growlights in the hall. Sigh...

  29. I recently brought home a bar of 70 percent chocolate and ate it over a few nights time. Wife hates the dark stuff and prefers milk chocolate and she's always wanted an Aga. Is it true those things are on all the time?

    So glad you're rid of the WH mad woman.

  30. So glad you have had a good and interesting week...

    Don't despair over the "it's not you" submission, chances are, had you been more honest, her denial would have prevented her hearing any of it and you would have just wasted your breath.

    Congrats on an interesting week.

  31. Mrs D - Nice to see you here - it was busy indeed - and smelly!

    Kevin - growing tomatoes in the hall - intriguing

    BB - yes that's the point of an Aga - they tend not to have them in the Caribbean.

    Mrs Cow - Funny how we shrink from being honest though isn't it?

    But you're right, she wouldn't have heard me anyway.

  32. Synchy - tough move, coconut milk rice pudding - Yum!

    Eryl - Flaunt your household odours with pride.

  33. Reading your entry is like going through a garden. There's always something interesting and crazy.

    Thanks for sharing.

  34. What is beans on toast, really. Because it's what we eat here in Seattle when we're broke which is most of the time and not something we'd go out for. Inquiring minds want to know.

  35. Hello Kaftan and welcome to my garden.

    Radish Lady - Yup - it's those tinned white beans in orange sauce - served in the sort of cheap breakfast cafe known here as a 'Greasy Spoon.' We didn't deliberatly go out for beans, we were out, it was cold and we stopped in for a cup of tea, then couldn't resist the beans.


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