We’re approaching Peak Kitchen Rage – that occurs on Christmas Day – but it’s something many of us experience throughout the year and, as time goes on, increasingly acutely. By us, I mean of course midlifers, who like to think we’re pretty relaxed and easy going apart from in one crucial respect: when it comes to all things kitchen related.
For a while we thought it was just us who had developed a problem with other people’s recipe choices, food combinations, cooking times and so forth but then we started to notice friends wincing as we went about our business, in our own kitchen.
Then we checked in with a few people (‘Have you noticed he puts a tablespoon of sugar in the salad dressing? Is it just me or is putting frozen mussels in soup revolting?’) and discovered that they too were gnawing their lips in relation to certain behaviour in the kitchen. Now, if any more proof were needed, First Date Fred has been kicked off I’m A Celebrity and claimed in his exit interview that the reason he fell out with a camp mate was a “culinary mistake” she kept on making. Kerching.
We Kitchen Ragers hear that. A few years ago we’d have thought anyone coming to blows about cooking priorities, techniques, waste (Fred’s issue), or seasoning was the sign of a very uptight individual, but not any more. Now, things that other people do around food are our top source of irritation. If you’re wondering what exactly Kitchen Rage is or, alternatively, this is ringing bells, here’s what we’re talking about:
This isn’t about tidiness, it’s about the mystery of why some people keep open packets of nuts and biscuits in the larder and bottles of cordial in the fridge. Why is the cheese in the salad drawer in its sweaty plastic packaging?
Ingredients that put us on edge
Pomegranate molasses can be a good thing but, rather like aftershave, it can become overwhelming very easily. And what are they doing with garlic paste in a tube? And lemon juice in a bottle?
Some people don’t seem to care if everything is slightly singed. They’ll burn it and then add slightly burnt almonds and burnt pine nuts. Hard not to burn them, to be fair, so we say leave them out. Also don’t bother with bits of date in the salad.
Surprises from the reduced section
Do we really want to eat marinated duck in a bag, or are we eating duck in a bag because it was in the twice-reduced pile?
Unwanted food salting
This can happen. Someone wanders past your pasta sauce, dips in the wooden spoon and the next thing you know they’re chucking in salt and grinding pepper as if it was part of their cardio workout for the day.
Too much honey
We all know the effect Nigella had when she announced that goose fat was the only fat to roast potatoes in – we’re still obliged to go with goose fat to this very day when sunflower oil is nicer – well, honey on carrots is the same. Some people will put honey on anything given half the chance.
The rich off
He’s making mash, so in goes a slosh of cream. He’s doing scrambled eggs, a ton of butter, extra cream, bit more cream. It can get to you.
Sometimes it’s better not to look and let them get on with it, but if you do happen to look the worst is people who use the washing-up liquid like a hand soap dispenser and squirt each dirty thing individually, while keeping the hot tap running. You might say, well the YA is outside having a fag with the backdoor open - we are not watertight on waste – but this is maddening. Hate running hot water taps.
Saving the gravy
If you must intervene to improve the gravy, don’t use the word saving.