I’m a Wifelet, which means that I have certain responsibilities around the house: herding the dust bunnies out from under the furniture; ensuring a regular supply of clean kitchenware; hugs on demand; getting rid of Wolf Spiders (we rock-paper-scissored and agreed I would tackle these as I’m home all day and better placed to evict them before they make a home in a shadowy corner of the house, however only on the promise that in return he would get rid of anything the Kitty brought in, remove all other invading multi-legged visitors and take care of some of the more manly household tasks like garden-taming and making full bin bags magically disappear); cleaning The Bathroom; potential baby duties in the distant future and, of course, putting a hot meal in front of The Hublet when he gets home from work.
I admit that I’m no Heston Blumenthal, but I’m pretty capable of putting together an appetizing plate of food, and with my mongrel blood mix of Indian, Asian and straightforward British, as well as European, Vegetarian and Antipodean influences from friends, my cooking style and repertoire is both interesting and varied and I believe I can cook food to suit most situations.
Now, having to cook food to a deadline each day for The Hublet has been a bit of trial by fire as I miss the previously unrealised freedom when single and carefree of throwing together a bowl of noodles with steamed vegetables, some stock, a little chicken or tuna and voila, creating an acceptable meal containing enough goodness to pass any surprise Mothership inspection and keep me alive until the next day. However, now that I’m cooking for The Hublet I really have to up my game and dust off my easy-to-cook, yet crowd pleasing favourites as I never want to see Him stiffen up in fear or puzzlement as he sits down to the evening meal. There are only so many things I can do with pasta and rice before I exhaust my options.
The weekend just past saw The Hublet invited to a Star Wars: The Old Republic Beta Testing event, and I thought he would be locked away in the study at the computer, testing to destruction one of the most eagerly anticipated PC games of the year, however due to the fairly frequent server crashes and necessary offline maintenance periods to make tweaks to the game playability, he had more free time than either of us had anticipated, so it was a lovely surprise when, on Sunday evening, he asked if I was in the mood for chili (chili con carne) as he was really in the mood for it. I was more than happy to go along with this as he so rarely cooks due to circumstance, and I don’t think I’d had one of his slowly prepared, leisurely cooked meals since coming out the the USA, so he quickly zoomed away in the truck to get all outstanding ingredients, then returned back home and firmly ensconced himself in the kitchen to begin cooking.
I make a good bowl of chili, but due to habits and practices picked up over the years I tend to defile the simplicity of a straightforward (or normal) chili recipe and add a huge variety of vegetables to my cooking pot, resulting in a technicolour wonderland of goodness and taste. Also, when cooking with beef or other red meat I tend to use Marmite to add a certain robust dept to the flavour, as well as red wine and…you know what, no, I’m not giving away my secrets. Suffice to say, quite a few of the ingredients I rely on to make my own version of a good chili aren’t readily obtained in this country/continent, so I’m still on the hunt to find alternatives that give the same results. Anyway, I felt quietly confident that Hublet Chili would be tasty and edible, but nothing like my vegetable extravaganza, however I was looking forward to a good meal and hadn’t enjoyed his cooking in ages.
It’s worth noting that The Hublet has, out of habit, always cooked with a lot of peppers and chilies, starting out life sneaking Jalapeno peppers from his Dad’s plate while still a toddler, so The Hublet and Hot go hand in hand, and therefore when he decides to cook a bowl of chili – a dish traditionally cooked with a bit of kick – I get a little apprehensive.
I wasn’t around for the creation of this dish as I took the opportunity to catch up on my emails and blog messages while the computer was free, but soon enough the call to dinner came, and when The Hublet sweetly advised that he’d brought some sour cream for me (used to accompany hot dishes in order to soothe the palate and avoid the need for a tongue transplant) I got a little scared.
I sat down at the dining table, escorted there by a happy looking Hublet, a bowl of chili and rice promptly laid out in front of me. While he went back into the kitchen to pour us a drink I sneaked into my mouth the smallest piece of ground beef that I could find, and almost instantly started to cough as whatever spices were in the meat hit the back of my throat. I started to review whether I’d actually got around to writing a will.
The Hublet returned with our drinks and sat down at the table with me, and we both tucked into our dinner – admittedly one us us with more gleeful abandon than the other.
I…I was impressed. Whatever spices and chilies had been lurking on my sneaked piece of ground beef was a complete fluke because, although there was definitely a mouth and belly warming heat to the dish, it wasn’t painful and in no way overpowered the overall dish. The chili was delicious. If anything, the heat of the Habanero’s, Jalapeno’s, Thai peppers, Banana peppers (yah, I sneaked a look at his cutting board) and whatever other hot elements he had included merely served to sharpen my taste buds and I found myself able to pick out the various ingredients at work in the dish with more clarity than usual. The sauce had a meaty depth and body to it that I hadn’t been able to replicate since leaving England, and the dish itself was a relatively basic meat, tomato and beans combination, very different to my usual vegetable madness, and the simplicity made it all the more enjoyable as I didn’t have flavour after flavour bombarding my tastebuds and so could enjoy without distraction.
The huge problem I now have is the terrifying knowledge that he is a good cook, a great cook in fact, and although I knew he was more than capable in the kitchen I face the horror of knowing that there will always be some dishes and recipes where He will be the Master to my Apprentice. Blast.