Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What time did you eat dinner as a child? This blog is rapidly devolving to become a chronicle of my terrible eating habits, but as my joy when some anonymous wit responded "Yuck!" to my brilliant recipe for breakfast rice balls has shown me, I get a kind of perverse thrill out of being a shit cook and eating poorly. I am pleased as punch to be at the helm of a stupid unintentional parody of a food blog.

Today, for instance, all I've had to eat has been two crumpets with butter and honey. I realise the crumpet-makers probably have their reasons for packing them two back-to-back, two face-to-face, but I wish that they wouldn't, because it means that when you put the pack in the freezer, the two crumpets facing each other freeze together and because of the bubbly surface it is nigh-on impossible to separate them. This, in turn, means you have to saw them apart, which never seems to happen straight across. So then you get one concave crumpet and one convex crumpet. It's a bit crap when you're eating the unnaturally slender concave crumpet, but then AW YEAH you get the extra-crumpety convex crumpet.

So I'm making my next meal (I've given up referring to them as 'breakfast', 'lunch' and 'dinner' because unless I am meeting friends for a meal, I eat at completely arbitrary times of the day) and I am thinking that 5pm is kind of early for a dinner, but then when I was a kid one of my primary school classmates would eat his dinner as early as 4:30pm.

At the time I thought that was absurdly, excessively early. The general consensus was that 6pm was the best time to eat dinner, and it turned out that when I dined at my friends' houses, that's usually when it would happen.

In my own household we ate at around 7pm (our official 'bedtime' being 8:30pm), which I swiftly realised was extremely late and slothful, and not something to boast about. Indeed, my parents would struggle to get dinner on the table that early. And things have only gone downhill from there. These days when I go over to my parents' place for a meal, they've got strategies in place to distract from how long the actual meal is taking to materialise. For instance, I'll be offered a glass of wine, some dips or cheese on crackers to tide me over.

I went to my parents' house for dinner on Monday night and ate dinner in front of Four Corners, feeling slightly guilty about chowing down to a story about little chocolate slave kids from Burkina Faso labouring in the Ivory Coast and Ghanaian cacao plantations. It was a really delicious, comforting dinner, though: baked tuna pasta. Then for dessert I had stewed apples and pears with yoghurt.

Anyway, time is of the essence! I had better go and make my homemade tinned spaghetti. The fact that it is fast becoming my favourite home-cooked meal says something simultaneously dismal and hilarious about my cooking.

My family ate at six too; now I have my own family I have pushed dinner back to the more bohemian time of six-thirty.

My aunt and uncle don't have dinner until nine at the earliest. I remember staying with them for a week when I was in my early 20s and I had to add another meal to the day so that I could make it to dinner time.

That rice recipe is yuck (also funny), but now every time I contemplate the leftover rice in my rice cooker I can't help thinking, "Maybe..." My rice cooker is meant to be non-stick but there is always a layer of rice stuck to it that can be lifted out in one piece and used as a hat, a frisbie, a rice-flavoured plate. It is marvellous.
Tinned spaghetti rocks.

As for shameful eating times, as a child it was not uncommon for us to sit down to dinner at 8pm or later, especially once we were in high school. We all had ridiculous schedules and dinner would just happen when it happened.

I was always STARVING as a teenager and accommodated these crazy eating times by wolfing down packets of Maggi Chicken 2 Minute Noodles and pappadams after school, whenever I got the chance.

As an adult, I'm not much better. We ate at 6pm the other day because there was something on later, but most days I wouldn't start cooking until after 7pm. If it's just me, I'd probably be happy eat at 9pm as long as I could get a glass of wine or two into me earlier.
My house was chaos. No rules, no set time. My mother hates cooking so much I'm lucky I got fed. Most of the time we ate some variation of take-away and/or cooked-in-a-sandwich-maker cuisine. Which is positively why I have such a haphazard idea of mealtimes now.
Yum! Baked tuna pasta is perhaps my favourite food after lasagne and chips.
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