For various reasons, it's been over 13 months since I last cooked for myself. I remember the day well. While over the phone to Kitchen Mark as he patiently went through each step, I managed to make myself fried squid with chilli sauce, with couscous on the side. Remarkably, it was a great success - so I quit while I was ahead and have since subsisted on eating out, eating at Green's, eating on rigs and eating kebabs.
In this nation of beaches and sunshine, I'm currently staying in an apartment-style hotel room. This was at my request, because from experience I know that eating out every night can get a little tedious, especially if you're by yourself, and even getting room service can be a hassle when I've got to spend a tortuous few minutes with my mangled Portuguese trying to say the word "sandoiuche!" and end up getting some kind of steak. Thus, I have a room with a little kitchen and a little gas stove. No cutlery, crockery or kitchen utensils, mind you, but a quick trip to the supermarket got me a pan and some forks and knives. For a few days, pot noodles, tuna sandwiches and some horrible sausages were the limits of my culinary adventures, but today I decided a fully fledged meal was in order. And to celebrate my first proper cooking in 13 months, I took photos of each step.
So, first we take a nice big bag of fresh pasta.
We can't go wrong with a nice jar of Uncle Ben's. This time Uncle Ben provides us with his special "Italiano" sauce, which should go nicely with pasta. I hope.
Some slabs of chicken, surely free range - Brazil is big after all.
Finally some olive oil - the good boy of the oil world.
And here's my pan. A little grubby inside after the horrible sausages, but holding up well. Actually, it's a cheap piece of crap.
And the most important ingredient of them all - the chef!
And here we have everything together, a nice happy family.
Yes, it seemed that I put a little too much oil in the pan and let it get a little too hot. Just as I was peering into my hot pan, it burst into flames. Fortunately, I kept a level head in this dangerous situation and remembered that pouring water into the fire would only make it worse, so I just stood back and watched it a little. Eventually "The Search For Modern China" saved the day.
Until I removed it, and after a little pause the fire burst into life again.
Meanwhile, in the bedroom, my little travel kettle, in which I was boiling the pasta, had overflowed.
"The Search For Modern China" had seen better days.
After all this, a beer was much required.
Fortunately, after all this drama, everything started to go smoothly. The pan didn't catch fire again, the chicken cooked well, and the pasta was nice and soft.
Voila! A tasty meal. Well, it was alright. I might just get room service from now on.