Helen Bach: Tales of murky marzipan

What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over...

What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over...

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Despite not being that keen on cooking myself, I do love watching cookery programmes.

My current favourite is The Taste.

Nigella’s back in fine form, accompanied by a very shouty Frenchman (Ludo Lefebvre) and a suave American (Anthony Bourdain).

OK, so it’s Masterchef meets The Voice without the spinny-round chairs, but it’s good and worth an hour of my TV viewing time.

Despite the glut of cookery programmes we all watch these days, most of us apparently have just five dishes in our culinary repertoire.

We cook these in rotation, with the most popular being spaghetti bolognese.

When I read this in the paper I thought that this couldn’t possibly be correct, I must cook far more than that.

Then I was walking home from school with my daughter the other Tuesday and she asked me what was for dinner that evening.

‘Pasta bolognese with Brussels’ was my reply (firm believers in our house that sprouts are for life, not just for Christmas).

‘But it’s not Thursday!’ was her retort, which made me think that I’m also getting far too predictable.

I took ‘O’ level home economics as it was called then, way back in the mists of time, and did quite well as I understood the science behind food – but let me add at this stage that I’m no Heston Blumenthal.

Our cookery class was good fun, as we had a great mix of characters and a very patient teacher (Miss Russell).

We made a Christmas cake one year, from start to finish – although I don’t remember ‘feeding’ it with alcohol (funnily enough, I’m guessing alcohol wasn’t allowed in secondary schools even in those days) – and had to ice it.

Miss Russell demonstrated each step carefully, and told us to handle the marzipan with care – and exceptionally clean hands – because it picks up every speck and nobody wants to eat murky marzipan.

Promptly after these words were uttered, one of my classmates dropped hers on the floor and it rolled behind the cooker.

She picked it up, dusted it off, and continued to roll it out, perhaps implementing the ‘five second rule’ (this, of course, was all unbeknown to the teacher).

My classmates and I, having watched in a mixture of horror and amusement at her casual disregard for cleanliness, expressed relief that we weren’t going to be eating her cake that Yuletide and pitied her poor family who no doubt would.

Further proof, perhaps, that what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over...

Read more from Helen here.