The Best chefs in the world are men. There are a few notable exceptions. Nigella is one, but I suspect it’s her gorgeous looks and not her cooking that won her fame. The epicurean delights of the two fat ladies were beyond dispute, but on the whole, male chefs reign supreme. Ruling their domain with an iron fist and, sometimes, with a four-letter vocabulary that would make a regimental sergeant major blanch.
Relegating me to buy the monthly groceries was Wifey Dear’s final act in my emasculation. The sideways glances from female shoppers as I wheeled my trolley up and down the aisles didn’t help my bruised male pride. Was it pity I detected? Consoling myself with the knowledge that the best chefs are men, I’d wheel on regardless of their sniggers. Parked at the meat counter I saw it – a palette of tripe. “Do you eat tripe?” I asked neighbour Jan over morning coffee on my stoep.
“Love it,” he salivated, “But Hettie won’t cook it for me!” “Neither will my wife. Well, I’ve bought some and found a recipe. You’re invited to dinner tonight.” “What’s that awful smell?” Wifey Dear asked. She looked suspiciously at me, resplendent in my Robert Carrier apron. Lifting the lid of the pot on the stove, she gagged and high-tailed it out of the kitchen, not to be seen again. Jan arrived at seven. On his own. “Where’s Hettie?” I asked. “Having dinner at our house with your wife, who says she’s not coming back until you’ve aired the house, washed the dishes, and made up the spare room!”
We sat down to eat. “You’ve excelled yourself, Townie. Cooked to perfection,” Jan commended me. As I puffed with pride, it reconfirmed my assertion that the best chefs are men. “As you’re so adept at cooking our roles are now reversed,” Wifey Dear announced. “You’ve been promoted to chef. I’ll buy, you cook!” Hoisted by my apron strings, I now stand sweating over a hot stove and listening to her, and Jan guzzling pre-dinner cocktails on our stoep, while frequently complaining that dinner is late again. I wonder if Gordon Ramsay would have suffered such abuse. “What’s on the menu?” they chorused. Wish I could reply, “Sweetbreads for starters, followed by tripe and onions.” But I’m not allowed to do the shopping, like a good chef should. If I burnt the roast, would it get me a reprieve? – Derek Christopher |fw