I’m not a woman who can, but I know they exist. They’re not those ‘nauseating’ women who pride themselves on being seen to be perfect and stand outside the school gates at 8.30am looking polished; they are the women that drop everything to muck in and help out in a crisis.
They are the friends you know you can always rely on.
I don’t wish to sound defeatist, because there are a lot of things I CAN do very well – I’m actually quite practical around the house and good at fixing household stuff. I can change light bulbs, know where the fuse board is, I can hang pictures and eat a whole box of Jaffa cakes without vomming – but I don’t have the natural confidence or intuition of a woman in the kitchen.
(I can’t fix technology, either. Obviously.)
On Saturday we hosted a Spanish-themed luncheon for the old man’s new wine club, which sounds way more pretentious than it is, and is actually more akin to a women’s book club, where everyone discusses the book for all of five minutes and then gets onto the serious business of drinking, bitching about husbands, kids and housework.
We are new members of the wine club and
eager to impress offered to host this meeting to get our feet well and truly under the table… because we love drinking wine. We thought that if we offered to host, it might put us in favour with the long-term members, who are much younger, trendier and far more interesting than the two of us.
In my wisdom I decided that Spanish tapas would be an easy, stress-free choice for the menu. That was, until I found out on Friday afternoon that I would have to work on Saturday morning, which is when my carefully laid plans and sang-froid decided to fall apart.
You see, although I’m generally calm in a crisis – a bit worryingly calm, if you know what I mean – when twelve drunken, hungry faces are staring up at you from the dining table, even the coolest cucumber in the world can be shredded.
In hindsight, I should have made a casserole. Casseroles are perfect for catering for large numbers and I’m quite good at them. But no, I decided to do the one cuisine where everything has to be cooked in the last five minutes prior to serving.
I arrived home at 1pm and our guests were due to arrive at 2pm. Inevitably, the old man had not completed EVERYTHING on the MUST DO list I had left him that morning and was wandering up, dripping from his relaxing swim in the pool as my melt-down began to detonate in the kitchen.
Yet somehow I got through the next two hours, the canapés and a bottle of wine; the useful strategy of ‘denial’ helping when it came to any thoughts about the impending main course.
Eventually, of course, I had to go into my wardrobe-sized kitchen and produce something. Anything. I took a moment at the doorway, and stood there inwardly cursing myself for letting that last glass of wine slip so eagerly down my neck, feeling shell shocked at how much cooking chaos one person can create on one square metre of bench top when heating up a couple of boxes of Coles ready-made canapés. What would the judges on Masterchef say, I thought to myself, as I digested the fact that nothing was ready and it was already 4.30pm.
But luckily, I had a woman who can. A Superwoman.
‘What can I do?’ she gushed confidently, as she strode into the wardrobe and rescued the dripping, uncooked prawns out of my sweaty palms. ‘Ooooh, garlic prawns? My favourite. I make these all the time.’
I would have given that woman anything at that moment by way of thanks; even my husband if she’d wanted him. I offered.
And so she proceeded to take over my kitchen, as well as my luncheon. She had Kurt on the lamb kebabs before he had the chance to run away, while I stirred the meatballs to a pulp and peeled off all the potatoes that were stuck to the baking foil. Meanwhile, she knocked up the most perfectly seasoned garlic prawns I’ve ever tasted while tossing two salads, cutting bread, frying churros for dessert later and organising the men, who couldn’t even seat themselves without direction.
I wish I had the supreme confidence and likability of the woman who can walk into a kitchen, assess the damage and panic and command control without sounding like a c..t, to give the hostess the time to
sober up pull herself together.