Legends from our own lunchtimes

Thursday, June 19, 2008


While it would be quite inappropriate to complain or even make a negative suggestion about any inadequacy in the quality of gastronomic offering at the Home of the Biting Midge, which is usually of a quality and quantity ranging from pleasantly excessive to simply exquisite, it’s probably worth recording that on the odd admittedly extremely rare occasion, the oven in our house has been known to produce something akin to the remnants of a small village in the path of the last the eruption of Krakatoa.

Those who have ever partaken of a course of Botanical Studies will understand that a final year High School project is not something that one takes lightly. If this project involves collecting plant samples over many many months, and carefully drying and pressing them prior to incorporating them in a final presentation, one could become quite emotionally attached to the whole thing.

Presuming say six months had elapsed, with only a few weeks to go to the final submission, which will be assessed by Government Inspectors to ensure the standard of the school rating is fair, imagine the level of, let’s call it anxiety or perhaps pressure building up within the households of the participants. Now if the pressure from within the household is countered by a low pressure area from without, a huge storm front could well roll through and sit stationary for the best part of two weeks, dumping inches of rain each day, and leaving the house soggy in an average humidity something equal to that at the bottom of an Olympic swimming pool.

If that had happened, there’s a slight chance that some of your carefully dried pressings could start to exhibit the merest hint of a furry mould growth, which the night before hand-in, can never be said to be a good thing.

For those blessed with parents as clever as our children had been given, this would not have been a problem. The household oven would be carefully warmed, then turned off and left to sit a few degrees above room temperature, to act as a rudimentary dehumidifier for the project.

An hour or so in the oven, and it would be perfect for presentation, providing the Mother of the household keeps her wits about her, and doesn’t crank the temperature up say half an hour too soon, to ensure the oven is the right temperature to cook the evening’s pizza.

Remember kids it’s never too late to change your Biology project to a chemistry one, you simply need to change your report to ensure that there’s lots of mention of carbon, although you have to be careful not to get the paper too soggy through the tears.

None of which has much to do with cooking except to remind us of a time not long after we were married, and with inlaws and their brood for dinner, trying out the new oven, it is suffice to say that things did not go quite according to plan. Actually they might have been to plan, but it wasn’t one of ours.

As the tribe of guests were leaving, our street was filled with acrid smoke of a burning car tyre on a nearby vacant lot.
“What’s that smell?” enquired our four year old nephew.

“It smells like our dinner” replied his sister who should have been old enough to know better.

“Errrk! We didn’t like it” they chorused in perfect synchronicity.



Anonymous said...

I was just thinking about it last weekend in fact, as I walked through the 'tropical' exhibit at Kew. Who knows what my life would be like now if I got the 'A' I deserved for that assignment. Perhaps history has been permanently altered.

bitingmidge said...

Bah! What's another A to a girl who's got a cupboard full of them.


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