Friday, May 29, 2009

The Incident With The Hostile Cheese

I found myself at home a bit early the other day and in a state of serious hunger, with a fridge half full of good things. I'm an optimist you know and my fridge is always half full. Except when it's half empty. Or totally empty, which is the norm.

One of those good things was a Pizza Express Sloppy Guiseppe pizza. They're good, in a European way. For the Lankan palate they need extras in the form of chillies, spices and all manor of those strange looking things that our parents use in cooking but we don't know what they are.

I tore into the task with the keenness of a bat out of Belgium.

I've been meaning to tell you, with pictures, of the new ceramic knife I bought in Singapore. The pictures are already taken, I think they're on my flickr account, probably saved on someone's hard drive by now and titled with the name of my brother. But I'll mention it now, I've got this ceramic knife and it's the second sharpest thing in the world, only beaten by a British MP trying to explain his expenses.

It's a piece of art to me. It's got the appearance of a white toy plastic knife, which can be deceptively dangerous when one holds and uses it. The temptation to handle it like plastic is large and the cuts are quick and deep. I was informed by a chap that these things are now being made and coated with a metallic looking surface so that people think of them as "proper" knives. It made perfect sense to me.

This ceramic knife makes me want to cut things, not in an emo way I mean, more in a 43 year old bloke wanting to test his new knife on an onion way. If you took a stroll around RD Towers on most days you'd find random bits of vegetable cut cleanly and waiting to be used. The problem for me is that, when the need comes to use them, I want to cut more. So I do.

I took the pizza out of the fridge and looked at it with my best Marco Pierre White eyes and frown.

First I chopped up a couple of green chillies and threw them on the pizza with all the nonchalance of a Sri Lankan road planner at an all you can eat tarmac buffet.

Next up was some lovely little cherry tomatoes. They were so lovely that they're called something like Pomodoro tomatoes or similar. I remember that it sounded similar to Portello, but can't recall the precise name. The ceramic knife went through them like you see on adverts for knives on teleshopping channels. Yes, it really is that good.

Then there was a large salami to be sliced, it sounds like a euphemism but it's not. The only thing around RD Towers that resembles a large salami is a large salami, disappointing I know. Slices of the most delicious fresh Italian salami were sprinkled with gay abandon on top of the base. More slicing, this time of the mushroom variety, followed, with more stacking on the pizza.

The final touch, for I was wary of overdoing things, was some more grated mozzarella and a tad of olive oil to moisten things up. I was tempted to really pile it on and use a dash of olive oil, but a tad was all that was needed. It's about discipline and subtlety of tastes, this cooking thing.

There was mozzarella to start with but with all the new toppings it looked likely that it would fade into obscurity quicker than Ranil Wickramasinghe in a guess who won the war competition. More was needed, just to create a sense of balance with the taste buds.

By now the oven was warm and the pizza base was heavy and unrecognisable. If the original Mr Guiseppe, in his very sloppy way, was hiding somewhere in my apartment watching me at work, I don't think he would have looked at my bastardised version of his original with any hint of recognition. He may have been impressed with my work, perhaps even envious, but he would not have realised that I was using his original as the starting point, it was buried so deeply under a pile of additionals.

I like to plan ahead. I can happily sit here and plan details for my next trip to Sri Lanka or Singapore or ponder on the dinner menu for next Friday evening. This time I'd messed up though. The taxing problem of how to transfer the Pizza, with all its weight, to the oven was something I hadn't addressed. If I had addressed it the only realistic thing I could have done would have been to have bought a spade earlier in the day.

I would have gone into a local shop and simply asked for a spade. I wouldn't have asked for a "big thing" or any other beating about the bush type of name, no, that's the kind of guy I am. I like to call a spade a spade.

There was no spade, there was no handy paddle shaped thing that I'd forgotten about hidden behind the curtains. It was a job for the hands.

I lifted up the RD pizza. The weight of the toppings made it sag in the middle, but I maintained my usual level of composure. I hurriedly moved to stick it on the top shelf of my warm oven.

About a foot from its destination it started to misbehave. The middle drooped and began to collapse through my small, delicate and frankly rather ladylike hands. I made a rushed move and tried to shove it onto the oven shelf.

The feast I'd almost created was having none of it. It collapsed on me, perhaps exhausted, maybe insulted by what I'd done to it. On my oven shelf lay something that looked half pizza, half roadkill.

I thought about things for a few seconds. I know now that I would have been better off investing more time in the thought process. I went to remove the specimen from the shelf.

And it died.

And it fell on the open oven door.

Oven doors, when said oven is at about 200 deg, are at about 199 deg. So you can picture my dismay. I knew the meal was a goner, I'd reluctantly accepted it and moved on. What I hadn't accepted was the fact that I'd stand there and stare helplessly as it melted on my glass oven door. I hadn't accepted that I wouldn't be able to pick it up as it was too hot, that I'd be faced with a melted cheesy mess that would get worse in front of me.

It was like an action movie, albeit a boring pizza based one. The hot oven door quickly melted the cheese and then it slowly dried into a vile looking mess. It resembled Hi ! magazine's double page spread of Colombo society women at the "come dressed as if someone's just been sick all over you after a cheese based meal" party at the Cinammon Grand.

I waited for the oven to cool down then took about forty five minutes to scrape the mess away. I used wet wipes, a sponge and a brillo pad thing. It was an emotional three quarters of an hour for me. I'd so looked forward to the pizza and the preparation, though fun, was all about the joy at the end of the task.

I ate my sausages with scorn. Not to be confused with corn.

Next time it'll be a deeper based pizza for me.


Kalusudda said...

I felt as if I was there, you tell it so well. (little advice, next time scoot off the kitchen as if someone else did it :)

ViceUnVersa said...

:) he he he...


Cadence said...

RD, you make all the girls in here go 'tsk tsk' :D

Better luck next time eh? :)

Holy Highness Zoltan said...

Your epigrammatic anecdotes are compelling and engrossing. Composed Very Cleverly.

Just Chillin' said...

Sorry RD, didnt' know where else to post but why are you called the "drummer"? Were you once a drummer while you were here in Sri Lanka? Would appreciate if you replied leisurely :) just curious.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Hello Just Chillin, it's simply because I play the drums, they're my total passion. Simple as that!

Gypsy said...

Oh darling. I wouldn't try impressing C with your cooking skills :P Get take out and pass it off as your own. That always works. Sorta.

Haha, have a wonderful holiday :)