It was no use pretending, it was bad Even the bloody dog turned his nose up, usually a perpetually scavenging mutt. How could this be? She’d had the reassuringly homely voice of national treasure, Mary Berry, guiding her every step. She had often improvised when cooking because even though she seemed to have a fairly full store cupboard, when she turned to a recipe she never had all the ingredients. As such she was wont to make substitutions, sometimes resulting in meals that her husband had referred to as ‘particularly grim’. But this time Mary had smiled at her throughout, her dentures glinting through the TV screen. Perhaps that was where she had gone wrong because her own smile had begun to slip when she saw the price of gruyere!
If only she had allowed Bill to watch the football. In an attempt to avoid what she called the ‘two TV syndrome’ she had insisted that on the nights when there was a clash of interests they would each have two hours, six ‘til eight or eight ‘til ten. Three nights ago Bill claimed that there was a crucial European match on but she was used to such hyperbole and was well prepared to counter-claim. Mary Berry’s Family Favourites was launching and having been mesmerised by ‘Bake Off’, and also the way that Paul Hollywood massaged his bread dough rolls she knew that she couldn’t miss Mary going solo.
They had settled down on the settee, the remote control perched decisively on her chair arm. Mary had appeared on their screen, strolling serenely though an immaculate herb garden. She had then appeared in her kitchen and announced that she was going to cook one of her husband’s favourites – a cheese soufflé. His half French grandmother had made it for him.
‘My Gran’s best dish was meat and potato pie in a white pie tin with a blue rim. Do they still make those tins?.’ asked Bill.
‘No, of course they don’t make those tins! They used them in the bible! Now shhhh.’ she replied. In fact they did make the tins but she had resisted buying one, having no desire to be compared to Bill’s grandmother. Anyway, she suspected that Bill’s appraisal was borne largely of nostalgia. Bill’s mother had told her that actually her mother had served largely beige food with gravy.
Mary presented little dishes of ingredients, beautifully cubed butter and perfect mounds of flour and cheese. Much melting, stirring and folding later she performed her WI-style alchemy and produced a triumphantly swollen cheese soufflé,
Her own soufflé had risen. Perhaps it hadn’t towered 3 inches above the rim of the dish but it had reached the rim! Bill had given her an encouraging nod whilst the dog had looked on in anticipation. She put her spoon in and was a little surprised to hear the hiss of deflation, followed by a distinct splosh. What came out looked like scambled egg in milk with a leathery brown lid. She tentatively brought a little to her mouth and chewed.
“I think it might be your lucky night Scamp” she said and lowered a spoonful towards the dog… He sniffed first, then licked, then shuffled backwards and retreated to his dog bed as though he had been punished. Bloody dog!