Recently I received a frantic call from one of my friends, asking what she should cook when her brother and his new girlfriend came over for dinner the following night.
Now, I usually love these sorts of challenges and will happily concoct virtual menus, write shopping lists and issue instructions on a minute-by-minute basis. And, bar the time I tried to teach another friend how to debone a chicken via What's App and she started with the bird the wrong way up, things seem to turn out pretty well.
On this occasion, however, it was a little different. The girl in question was picky. And by that I don't just mean a little bit fussy, we're talking properly finicky - in short, a vegan who isn't keen on carbs and currently only eats green vegetables. It took a while, and there was, I admit, a fair bit of eye rolling, but we eventually settled on a girlfriend-friendly menu that also appealed to the other guests: baked quinoa cakes with crispy kale and (green) chilli-flaked spinach, in case you're interested.
Excluding those who suffer from food allergies or intolerances, receiving a list of pre-dinner demands like that is guaranteed to irritate all but the most sanguine of chefs. However, I think a fussy eater is preferable to a food bore. I'm sure you've all encountered them: the person who first refers to themselves as "a real foodie" - a term guaranteed to make me cringe - and then proceeds to list the different types of olive oil that currently reside in their well-stocked kitchen cupboard.
They're then likely to reveal that they spent X amount on a wedge of truffled Brie at Christmas and have eaten crispy locusts and fried grasshoppers in Thailand, but won't entertain the thought of having baked beans on toast for supper, unless the beans are homemade - which defeats the point of this store cupboard supper, in my eyes.
When I was back in the UK a few weeks ago, I went to a party at one of my parent's friend's houses. Someone asked what I did for a living and when I told them that I was a food writer, the youngest son (18) gleefully propelled me towards his laptop so that I could take the Food List Challenge. According to the list, if you've tried more than 20 of the 100 dishes or ingredients, you're a confirmed (shh, say it quietly) foodie.
With items such as Spam and pineapple cottage cheese making an appearance, I'm not entirely sure that this should be taken as a compliment. It did give me an idea for a dish that I'd like to try next time a food bore comes calling, though.
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