The Great British Fake Off

Yes, it’s happened, I’ve succumbed to the overwhelming GBBO hype.

Well, actually that’s a lie, it’s just an excuse to share with you a cooking article I wrote whilst at University.

I am notoriously bad at cooking. If there was a fairy-tale book for cookery, I would be the one mothers and fathers warn their children about crossing on the plate.

I’m a food villain, the devil with a spatula some may say.

To ensure we get off on the right foot I want to categorically confirm I am a bad chef.

It’s an ugly word but I have previously tortured recipes to the point of extinction.

I like greasy, unhealthy, irresponsible foods and I’m not ashamed of that.

However, like all supervillians I have attempted (kind of) to change my ways.

My first effort of creation was a healthy, encouraging, pride-filled attempt (well, pride filled by my very low standards anyway).

We start with the starter, why you ask? Pretty self-explanatory, it’s a starter.

I always feel like I’m showing off ordering a starter in a restaurant, I’m sure I’m not the only one who sits around the table awaiting someone to perk up with “Is anyone going to get a starter” and that’s always returned with the polite phrase, “I will if you will”.

I feel it’s more of a behavioral gesture to show that although it’s your meal, I’ll take an interest in not only what you’re having but the reasons behind your selection.

I’m making this, so why not, in for a penny, in for a pound.

Grilled Halloumi on a bed of rocket.

Not bad for a novice, aye?

Okay, I doubt Heston Bloomenthal is quaking in his boots about my apparent effort of innovation but I think it’s a platform I can begin to improve on in the future.

Despite it’s lack of size and weight the cheese gave up quite a fight.

Grilled to give it a browning coat on top of its cushioney pale interior.

It wasn’t rubbery but it sqwelched when I bit down, it was a challenge with a smile.

The flavours were quiet and shy in forthcoming but once you’d bravely decimated the dish, alongside the salad, it gave you a balance of the cheesy, silkly, elegance and a peppery twang from the rocket.

Proud of the start, it’s time for the main event.

I feel like this is a Mayweather Pacquiao moment.

I’ve been talking about giving this cooking-lark a go for a while but never actually put my food where my mouth is.

Now… “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

First of all, fish.

We start with the fish because, let’s be honest, it’s the headline act.

I’m a big fan of fish, it’s like meat but scalier.

Throw into the mix the purest side dish on the planet, rice, and you have yourself a heavyweight contender.

Okay, admittedly the rice was Uncle Bens in the microwave, but we’ve all got to start somewhere, I mean Gordon Ramsey didn’t just turn up to a kitchen one day, start swearing and grab a Michelin star now did he?

The fish however didn’t come from an invitingly coloured packet.

Wheeling my trolley around the supermarket, swerving to avoid the upperclass mums with little Humphrey throwing grapes from the tail end, I headed for the fridges.

Oh yes, Captain Birdseye you’ve had your time, I’m going to get a fish so fresh it’s still got tanlines from the pacific ocean’s glare.

I started snobbily dismissing foods without a fully green dietary wheel on the packaging which is when I came across ‘Tunafish steaks’.

The reason for my selection; it ticked all the green boxes in terms of healthy eating and it had ‘steak’ in the name. Game Changer.

A thin layer of fry light sunflower oil was sprayed into a pre-heated pan until it began to sizzle.

Dodging the spits from the pan as if I were in the Matrix I set the fillets down until they began to brown.

Minutes later, out it came.

I went all out on this dish, even to the extent of sculpting the pearlescent rice into a triangle shape and popping a torn piece of shrubbery on top.

I don’t know why I did this, I’d seen it on masterchef, Greg and John approved, that’s good enough for me and to be honest I was getting carried away.

Of course I didn’t eat it, that was tossed aside as soon as my cutlery hit the table.

The first scuba-like-dive into the fish was mesmerising.

Juices oozed out the bottom like sodden sponge and my fork returned with a flakey piece of perfection attached.

It needed a few chews, just enough to realise you were involved in a battle but not too many; stubborn but forgiving, like a hormonal teenager.

It was glorious.

Just as the pallet began to dry, from the fishy main, my pre-readied dessert entered the fray.

I’ll call it London-mess.

It’s basically Eton mess but I don’t think I’m fooling anyone by slapping a pompous name on the front.

Gooey marshmellow standing shoulder to shoulder with an army of light, fluffy, crisp meringue pieces all set off by the vibrant addition of some hand picked garden fruits.

Ideally, I would be making this later in the year, but once I’d seen the Strawberry’s glint the tiniest shade of rouge from my kitchen window I stripped them from the stem and got busy.

Thinly sliced alongside whole punchy raspberries.

I had to make sure my healthy plans didn’t completely evaporate, didn’t I?

Now, I know I sound like that Sunday league footballer who thinks he’s Lionel Messi with a better barnet and a right foot but I must express again, the success of my meal so far, is as unexpected as snow in July.

The sharpness of the fresh fruit forced my tongue to recoil in shock upon it’s first meeting.

It felt like an explosion.

It’s nice but nasty if you get what I’m saying, like that awkward moment you can’t tell if you should laugh at somebody stumbling in the street because they might genuinely be hurt.

Then the sweet messy guilt overloads the pain.

A response from heaven, like swallowing a cloud.

It was too light to bite but too thick and luscious to drink, that middle tier of pursed lips swelling to ground down the crunchiness and appreciate the buoyant texture of the course.

I’ll be honest, I struggled to finish it.

That’s not an admission of me not liking what I’d produced, out of pride alone I wish I would have finished it just to brag some more, but then when all was said and done and I was just about to pat myself on the back and fill out a Great British Bake Off application form I realised something.

Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would have to wait a bit longer, I wasn’t perfect just yet.

I’d forgotten the veg.

Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day I suppose, there’s always next time.

If there is a next time.

To be continued… Maybe (probably not).

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