Tuesday, July 30, 2013

chef off...

(Via www.theage.com.au)

Travel wanker alert… BK and I recently(ish) returned from a short stint in Bali. I was a little anxious about going because I knew (being a conference and all) that I would have to make small talk for a certain amount of the time and I can only make small talk for so long before feeling claustrophobic and need to be on my own for a bit. Small talk aside, I was very excited about the trip because a) it was a 5 star and all expenses paid b) it was Bali, and I was born for island holidays and most importantly, c)  I would not have to cook for 6 days.

One of the cool things about the trip is that the conference organisers made sure that all details were a secret – all very cloak and dagger. All we knew was that there were a few soirees and two mornings of planned conference type activities with the spouses doing a special “spouse activity” on one of these mornings.  Of course, this led to speculation about what the organisers had up their sleeves. I was hoping that it didn’t involve things like obstacle courses on the beach or – horror of horrors – a Sexy Spouse Competition.  I jokingly commented to one of the other spouses that in actual fact, the only thing worse than a Sexy Spouse Competition would be if we were to take part in some kind of cooking event.

You can imagine my alarm then, when they announced that we were to spend the morning with none other than Adam Liaw, winner of MasterChef Australia 2010. (Truth is, up till then I’d never heard of him but I’m getting slightly name droppy here.) I got all sweaty under the armpits when I imagined that he might ask each one of us to volunteer the dish we most like to cook, given that my culinary skills extend mostly to fish fingers. For that reason, I headed to the furthest point from his demo table.

Now don’t get me wrong, as appalled as I was at having to spend a morning in paradise cooking, I was very interested in what Adam had to say. After all, I like to think that he’s more than earned his cooking stripes and I was banking on him imparting a lot of “short cuts to brilliant cooking”. Not only was he a mine of information but he genuinely came across as a really lovely man. (Though quite honestly, any man that can cook is lovely, innit?)

No sooner had we sat down when two of the women opposite me started WHISPERING. No, not in subtle, muted tones. In LOUD WHISPER tones which, as you know, is practically the same as shouting.  At first I was forgiving.  Perhaps they were very excited about Adam Liaw and were sharing their excitement. Perhaps they were SO excited that they needed to pee and were clarifying the direction of the WC.

As the LOUD WHISPERING progressed, I tried to zone it out. You know, be the bigger Bali cook, so to speak. But when the LOUD WHISPERING got sharper and more animated I could no longer stand it. To make matters worse, it was now highly punctuated with a nasally whine.

By now the entire table was privy to the fact that both of these LOUD WHISPERERS had had argie-bargies with their spouses. (Surely it’s illegal to fight in a paradise? Surely you can put it off any kind of arguments until real life resumes?) We came to the conclusion that the LOUD WHISPERERS had mislaid their sense of decorum in transit, somewhere between the countries of Self-Absorbedoon and F#%&ing-Rudonia.

I attempted some deep, meditative breathing. It didn’t work and as I could truly no longer zone out their chatter, I thought I’d give a discreet EHEM. Nope, no response.  Not even a blip on their radar. By now, all the other women at the table were wriggling in their chairs, pained expressions on their faces, willing the other two with all their might to SHUUUUT THE FUUUUCK UUUUP.

Finally, one of the other (non-whispering) women at our table declared, “I think the bar’s open, perhaps we should have some wine”. I wanted to kiss her. Unaccustomed as I am to drinking before noon, I saw no other way forward and promptly downed one Bintang and three gin and tonics. Sadly, I don’t remember how to make Malaysian Chicken Satay’s but I do remember that Adam Liaw is lovely and that you should never talk during a cooking demo.

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