Some people enjoy messing about in boats. I relish messing about in the kitchen. And mess, it generally is when I have one of my cooking days. John Torode of Masterchef fame would have a fit! But it’s the ‘messy’ bit that’s part of the fun! I am not a neat and precise cook. I bastardise recipes: I conjure and create, adjust and titivate, strip down, reduce, add and enjoy! I don’t often mess up a finished dish; thankfully I have enough cooking experience, training and general nowse to know what I’m doing, for the most part. So whilst my chaotic cooking sessions could never be neat and ordered occasions, they still have a background of sanity and shape – although anyone who has ever lived with me might well disagree.
With cooking, for me the creating is half the fun, and the eating of course the other half. The journey is definitely as important as the destination. People who cook out of necessity rarely enjoy it. Like kids who invariably end up with sticky mitts, and many chefs and pâtissier, I enjoy getting stuck in with my hands, feeling the ingredients and textures, telling with my sense of touch when something is ‘right’. It’s a dimension of cooking that weighing and spooning and machinery can’t give you. Like the constant tasting that chefs do to check a dish, using your hands can bring something important and elemental to cookery. OK, so you don’t need to make a mess to use your digits and enjoy cooking, but it can be very liberating to have flour on your worktop and your hands, spats on the cooker, and a pile of washing up – and no spoons left in the cutlery drawer. You can clear up at the end. It’s no big deal! Give it a try one afternoon when you fancy a baking or jam making session, no one will know, and you might even have some fun!