Friday, 25 March 2011

Tap water and docktails

‘I had one of Lily’s round robin emails yesterday,’ remarks Sal.

‘So did I,’ says Cass. ‘I love them! “Hi how r u, love Lily, xxx.”

‘Oh yes,’ laughs Sal. ‘And I always send her long chatty emails back, because I think she must be feeling bored.’

‘Don’t!’ I squeal. ‘She never reads her emails! Just say, “Fine.” I think she sends these things out to everyone – except me.’

‘Oh yes, she does,’ says Sal. ‘All sorts of people, including Club Penguin and Tyrrells Crisps!’

I groan and turn back to my prawns.  

‘You’re not cooking, are you?’ asks Cass with alarm.

‘Ye-es…’  I have been sizzling and tossing for a good few minutes now. Reclaiming my inner chef!

‘I’ve obviously got this completely wrong. You said come over for cocktails.’

‘It’s meant to be an Elegant Girly Dinner, not just Elegant Girly Cocktails!’ I laugh as I lower the Rayburn lid and divide the rice and prawns onto three plates.

‘I wish I hadn’t had my spag bol now,’ says Cass.

We look at each other in anguish. I can’t bear it. All she can manage is a teaspoon of rice and a single prawn. Plus she and Sal keep putting their hands over their glasses when I try and top up their mojitos. Honestly! What kind of Elegant Evening is this?

‘Mmm! Properly cooked rice!’ sighs Sally.

‘Did you just cook that rice now?’ asks Cass.

Is this a trick question? It’s just rice, isn’t it?

‘How did you do it?’ demands Cass.

‘Eliza has the knack,’ says Sally, in the manner of a proud mother. ‘It’s all those years in Asia.’

‘And what precisely does the knack consist of?’ Cass pursues.

‘It’s foolproof – and terribly easy. You just measure the rice first, then wash and drain it, then put it in a saucepan with double the amount of water. Put the lid on, bring it to the boil and then put it on a low heat till it’s cooked through.’

‘By which stage I would have turned it into wallpaper paste,’ says Sally.

‘But if you wash it first, it gets rid of the starch and then it doesn’t go gloopy,’ I explain.

‘Oh, that’s the knack,’ says Cass. ‘Mmm. Very good.’

‘Ah! Delicious,’ says Sal, savouring her first prawn.

‘Where do you get your prawns?’ asks Cass. ‘They’re very succulent, if I may say.’

‘Tesco’s Finest,’ I mouth apologetically. ‘You need to get raw prawns so they soak up the marinade.’

‘You see, you know these things!’ cries Sally. ‘This is your USP! South-East Asian dinner parties!’

‘Except I’m not very good on presentation,’ I say, eyeing the smears on the side of Sal’s plate.

‘You can buy a job lot of those Chinese bowls,’ says Cass. ‘And you can get orchids from Lidl.’

‘I mean as in slapping it on the plate.’

‘No, you’d have to be up all night making those carrot flower things,’ agrees Sally.

I tell them about the Mistlebourne Mag ad. I suppose I could add South-East Asian as a speciality, even if I did get the marinade out of a jar. Or maybe I could give rice-cooking lessons? 

Cass seems to have given up on us. She is peering under the table, where the puppy has taken over Dusty’s spot and is tearing round in circles. ‘She always chases her tail in the evenings,’ says Cass. ‘It’s like having a baby with colic.’

‘Oh yes,’ says Sal. ‘There was a certain time of day when the babies would…’

‘…chase their tails?’ Cass comes up for air.

‘Except poor Plum doesn’t have much of a tail,’ I point out.

‘I know, it was docked,’ says Cass.

‘Oh no,’ squeals Sally. ‘That’s why she’s trying to chase it. It’s like a soldier trying to scratch his leg.’

Cass brings us up to speed with the builders while Sal and I eat. It really is a travesty. The girls are reduced to drinking tap water.

‘I can’t take alcohol any more,’ apologises Sal. ‘It makes me feel terrible.’

‘That’s one thing I’m determined not to let slip,’ I say. ‘It’s like everything else – it’s a drinking muscle, if you don’t use it, it atrophies. Atrophies! That’s the word!’

Sal looks bemused. Cass giggles. ‘I knew it wasn’t prolapsed!’ 

No comments:

Post a Comment