Slightly Disappointing Soup: A food-based requiem to my old flat.

Right near the beginning of this term, I made several batches of soup, one of which (“spicy kidney bean soup”) was Slightly Disappointing. It wasn’t bad, just bland and odd-textured in a mildly upsetting kind of a way. This inadequacy was then augmented by my adding almost half a pot of ground black pepper in a misguided bid to “give it a bit more oomph,” resulting in a soup that was no less bland, but a bit greyer and more sneeze-inducing. The main problem with this soup, however, was that I made around ten litres of the wretched stuff, which I dutifully soldiered through over the course of several weeks, despite it constantly and painfully reminding me of my own culinary failings.

Flash forward to last Sunday, when we’re moving the final bits and pieces out of our flat and discover a large, mysterious tub of Food at the back of the freezer. I assume it’s Bonnie’s; she assumes it’s mine. When we open it in the new flat, I stare apprehensively at its impassive, beige surface, and the horrifying realisation dawns on me that it is, in fact, yet more of the Slightly Disappointing Soup, masquerading as some kind of exciting chicken dish. It’s back… You could argue that it never really went away.


Anyway, in honour of the old flat and the more or less successful cooking exploits it housed, here are some “recipes”. By which I mean “anecdotes about things that have happened, tenuously shoehorned into a food-based theme”.


Poached Ideas

Ingredients

  • Lack of imagination 
  • Imaginative friends
  • 1.5kg potatoes

Note: Best served slightly over-egged

 

Method
I spent most of my friend Megan’s visit here in a hyperactive baking frenzy, during which I was prompted by another minor kitchen-based disaster to tell her about the Slightly Disappointing Soup. She pointed out that that it probably ought to become a blog title and, given my current lack of inspiration, I’ve decided to use that as a basis for this entire post. Incidentally, the culinary disaster in question resulted in me topping three lentil shepherd’s pies with a sort of thick glue. This horror was thanks to my ignorance of the structural properties of potatoes, which led me to believe that using the soup whizzer would be a quick and convenient way of making mash. 

Jam-Olives

Ingredients
  • One poorly designed fridge shelf
  • Approx 8 olives, still in tin
  • 200g strawberry jam, still in jar
  • One mop and a newspaper
Note: Never, ever use this recipe
 
Method
I tried to clean the fridge in the old apartment, because I suspected it to be the source of the unpleasant kitchen-smell. Not only did the mysterious smell turn out not to be emanating from the fridge at all, but I also managed to knock down a shelf, along with two jars containing… well, you can work that out for yourself. It’s not humanly possible to describe how upsetting the result was, so here’s a picture instead. 
 
I suppose one silver lining to the whole fiasco is that I’ve officially discovered the hardest thing to clear up. It’s this devastating trinity of broken glass, liquid and jam.  

 

Devilled Déménagement

Ingredients

  • 2 residences
  • A large bunch of strong friends
  • 1 armful of assorted cakes
  • 2 people’s-worth of Stuff (need not be evenly distributed)
  • A metric f*ckton of leftover herbs, spices, preserved goods, and miscellaneous dribs and drabs
  • A generous handful of willpower
Note: In a pinch this can be made from just two ingredients: desperation to leave and surprising reserves of physical strength. I moved out of Voie Domitienne over the course of around ten round trips on the bus, but it’s not an experience I’d care to repeat.

Method
We had to move out of our lovely, lovely apartment last weekend, a tragedy tempered by the fact that we’ve replaced it with a very lovely, if quite tiny and badly DIYed, house. As usual, I left my packing until the last couple of days and was forced to do it in a desperate frenzy. Fortunately we’ve been blessed with friends who are both willing and able to carry more stuff than I thought humanly possible. We fed them quite a lot of cake as a thankyou…

Much as I love having an oven, I’m not sure it’s very good for me – I am often to be found frantically icing cookies at 3am, and have an alarming tendency to try and buy friends with cake.
To be fair, it sometimes works; here they are, like a trail of industrious ducklings embarking on an epic journey comprising three flights of stairs, a kilometre of narrow, pavement-less roads and a surprisingly stubborn door lock.

We actually managed the whole lot one go, even the ludicrously heavy piano, leaving me and Bonnie time to get pleasantly tipsy on cheap cava, before cleaning the entire flat – wardrobe-tops and freezer-interiors included – and have a sleepover on the sofas. The success of the whole endeavour was topped off by our (mercifully now ex-) landlord’s flabberghasted expression at the dazzling gleam of all the surfaces.

Here it is looking upsettingly empty. And here’s what happened to the remaining liqueur from our cocktail party just before we left.
 

Exam Surprise served with Lightly Fried Brains

Ingredients

  • A minimum of 15 credits (can be made up from 14 credits of things you actually want to do plus 2 in sport because YOLO)
  • One unexpected assessment
  • One French dictionary, about the size and weight of a large rock
  • Remnants of one squeezed timetable
Note: In no event should this be prepared in advance.


Method

I took a sports class, which turned out (just after it was too late to change) to be assessed not just on attendance, but on actual ability, which seems unfair on the less athletically blessed among us. On top of this, there’s a written exam, which wouldn’t have been such a problem had it not been for the following factors:

  • The interval between the reminder about the exam (on Friday) and the exam itself (on Monday) being exclusively dedicated to Moving House
  • My total neglect of the 13-page booklet I was meant to read beforehand
  • An extreme case of PMS, which caused me to spend my limited revision time panicking and yelling at inanimate objects, as well as displaying some impressive road rage.

Fortunately, France being what it is, the exam question didn’t require any actual knowledge about sport or sporting culture*, instead asking for our philosophical insights into the burning question of: “can the characterstics of modern sport represent an ideal for man and society.” In the unlikely event that anyone cares, my answer was basically “not really, sport is dangerous.”

*I don’t want to express too much confidence on this point as I have not yet received my score. I’m hoping I passed through sheer verbosity. And possibly sympathy.

 

Superhero Soup

Ingredients

  • Two lazy nerds
  • Approx ten days
  • 3 Iron man films
  • 1 Thor film
  • 1 Avengers film
  • 2 and a half X-men films
  • A sprinkling of The IT Crowd


Method

Anyone who knows me will know that geek-culture doesn’t really fit with my image; I pride myself on my suave disinterest in anything approaching the nerdy. LOL JUST KIDDING. I’m a massive geek, and considering my love of Douglas Adams, Doctor Who and Discworld, it’s actually remarkable how few superhero movies I’ve seen. Bonnie has been helping me rectify this and since we moved we’ve watched A LOT of them. Predictably, I’ve become completely addicted.

LIDL lasagne

Ingredients
  • Two hungry students
  • One large supermarket, unventilated
  • Assorted bags and trolleys
  • The tiniest possible quantity of common sense

Method
We went to LIDL to stock up our new house with food, and came back with this much stuff. I blame the strange, totally airless atmosphere in the shop, which makes me giggly and totally unable to judge how much veg I really need.

No, it’s not another photo of the move, just our purchases which included: SIX LITRES of milk, a kilo of generic white fish, a plant, two kilos of oranges, five endives, pretzels, orangina, fizzy wine and a block of gouda. WE ALREADY HAD GOUDA.

Actual things I’ve cooked

Ingredients
  • Several months sans oven
  • The acquisition of an oven
  • Too much free time
  • A slightly obsessive personality
Method
To round everything off I thought I’d share a few things I’ve actually cooked, mostly at three in the morning and always three or four at a time. This should give you an idea of just how much pain the underequipped kitchen in Voie Domitienne brought me…
Chocolate truffles with mint liqueur
White chocolate and Speculoos cookies, and home made oreos
Carrot cake, lemon cake and assorted cookies for the fête de déménagement (moving house party)
GIANT cinnamon swirl
Et voilà. Naturallly, many more baked goods will be produced in our new house, but I will always have fond, cakey memories of the old place. À la prochaine!
New flat foods: ludicrously middle-class risotto with fennel and parma ham, and a rainbow-heart carrot cake.
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