herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Are guys better in the kitchen than women?

The Herald's food critic Ernie Whalley thinks so. here's why

"He's in the kitchen," said Rambocook's missis.

I found Rambocook hard at it. Barely 2.30pm and already a pile of chopped onions the size of Croagh Patrick. "Chicken dopiaza for 12 people. With brinjal bhaji, tarka dal, pilau rice and naan bread done in the outside pizza oven. I got this urge to cook Indian," he said, pausing to pick his teeth with a kitchen knife the size of a pirate's cutlass.

"Rammers, I need some help. The Herald have asked me to write on 'Do men make better cooks than women?' What do you reckon?"

"Of course they do. Once a bloke puts his mind to it he can outcook any bird on the planet."

"How come?"

"Take your one Darina. Or that English bird on the telly, the one with the big knockers. They can cook a bit . . ."

"I reckon so."

"But . . . and here's the big question. Can they multi-task?"

"Pardon?"

"Can they fettle a tasty Omelette Arnold Bennett while playing air guitar to Sultans of Swing and keeping a weather eye out for Fergie's lot getting a 96th-minute winner? Sharon's idea of multi-tasking is going off to make 10 phone calls in the middle of cooking a risotto. Then there's that French word, whassitcalled, mizzenplace?

"Mise en place?"

"That's it. What's it mean?"

"You get all your ingredients out, plus your knives, tools and accessories and you lay them out in a logical order before you start cooking."

"Exactly. Matchboxes. CDs."

"Sorry . . ?"

"Men start training for mizzenplace from childhood. You must have had a collection of Matchbox cars, lined up in order on your dressing table. I bet you knew exactly where to find the fire engine or the Austin Allegro."

"For sure? But CDs?"

Logic

"In alphabetical order. Shaz and the girls mess 'em up. If I can't find Meat Loaf between Bob Marley and Joni Mitchell there's hell to pay. Blokes are simply more logical."

"Right."

"Then there's tradition. All the great chefs in history were men. Escoffier, Carluccio, Raymond Blanc, that other feller . . ."

"Gordon Ramsay?"

"Naw, was it Larousse? Whoever, men cook, women are for naming dishes after. Like Peach Melba and . . . and . . . (triumphantly) Charlotte Russe."

"Omelette Arnold Bennett?"

"The exception that proves the rule. Now, bugger off, unless you want to help stuff dates."

At that point I quit, thinking "Must ask Darina does she do air guitar".

Ernie Whalley, in conversation with Rambocook

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