Wednesday: 4:30 pm
My colleague asks if I would like to come to a cook out he’s been invited to the next day. It’s supposed to be an evening of baking and eating together. I say I’ll think about it. There really is nothing to think about. Not like I have a gazillion plans to choose from. Neither do I have to think about why I should be going because no one with a functional brain would see anything wrong with the idea. Yet I have my own qualms.
Later that evening:
I get an email from my colleague about recipe ideas. Forgetting all about my inhibitions I hop skip and jump to my laptop. I practically google every recipe I can, of anything that can be baked. Meat loafs, quiches, pies, cakes, tarts. I start suggesting them all one by one like I was born to be a chef but the truth is I can’t tell my arse from my elbow when it comes to recipes. Bacon and spinach quiche, vanilla cheese cake with blue berries, apple crumble, banoffee tart, lemon pie- I name it all!
That night I go to bed dreaming of swimming in a pool of hot chocolate and eating apple crumble.
Thursday: 11:30 am
It is the most regular Thursday morning at work. I get in late which is now become a terrible habit I can’t seem to get rid of. I make a few usual calls, list out what needs to be done and retreat behind my laptop screen. Somewhere close to lunch we finally decide on baking a pie for the evening. Lemon pie.
“Vidhi look for a recipe we can use” he says “and make a shopping list”.
I google a few and settle for the least complicated one. Pleased with the length of my list which has 6 ingredients only I get back to work.
Later that evening:
The venue is a cute little set up with an interesting integration of the kitchen and the sitting area. The lighting looks good, the furniture is minimal and the décor – clearly done in good taste. We get started with our master piece. In less than a minute I find myself confused about how many eggs to use for the crust and then how much lime juice to add for the filling.
I re-read the recipe. And..
It’s the dumbest thing ever. All the ingredients are measured in some standard cup size that I have no idea of. Plus we have to double the proportions in order to make enough for everyone. I panic a little. “When in doubt use estimation” said no good cook ever! I start adding ingredients here and there in approximate proportions. The filling is supposed to fluff up after it’s beaten. My colleague has been beating it for 15 mins almost and we see only liquid no fluff. Also it looks just enough to feed an infant.
We decide to throw in one more egg to increase the quantity which means more lime zest and juice too. By now we have tossed the recipe to one side and are pretty much relying on common sense. Few minutes later it looks like we are ready to throw it into the oven.
Needless to say I forget to bake the crust first before pouring the filling into it. So now it’s all gone together and I am praying to the pie gods to let this catastrophe be edible to say the least. For whatever it’s worth our pie did resemble a real one – the right texture, dark brown crust, pale yellow filling. It could have actually passed as good looking even.
Meanwhile the rest of the dinner falls in place. There is a delicious looking salad with physalis berries and lettuce tossed in balsamic dressing and calzone stuffed with mushrooms and mozzarella. Much of our conversation revolves around freshly baked bread, good old salads, Italy & house wine and the general food culture in different parts of the world especially Europe. For a moment it’s like I am teleported to some small outdoor cafe of Italy. It seems like one of the most satisfying meals I’ve eaten in a long time and the company felt like icing on cake!
After a few too many laughs, when our chattering died down and stomachs got full it was time for the moment of truth! The host brings out two pies, the blueberry pie she made and the lemon pie we made. Our pie cuts so well, looks so delicious that it’s hard to believe something this good looking can ever taste bad. My first bite tells me the sugar in the crust should have been grounded and not whole. I eat some more and feel like too much lime zest went in! But I daresay it aloud and swallow my observations with each bite I take.
The host is the first to speak.
“It’s not bad, I quite like it” she says. Her words are like music to my ears. And then like Chinese whisper the same statement passes through the circle.