Magazine article The Spectator

A Lesson in Scrambling

Magazine article The Spectator

A Lesson in Scrambling

Article excerpt

It's true. There are families out there who really do live entirely off ready-made meals - and I mean entirely. The children's new nanny is 25 years old and doesn't know how to boil an egg. Well, she does since I explained that you have to cook them in boiling water. However, she refuses to accept that anything as exotic as scrambled egg exists north of the Trent. In her part of the world, she insists, food comes out of a packet, and scrambled eggs, if they are made at all, are prepared by placing an egg in cold water, boiling it up for as long as you dare and then mashing it with a fork. I've tried to convince her that my scrambled eggs are not `southern style', but definitive; she, though, gives me a look that means, `What do you know, living in your ivory tower?'

The depressing thing is that I think the nanny is right. I'm surrounded by pigs, chickens, Jerusalem artichokes and other growing things from which I create our meals, and I find it difficult to grasp that there are thousands of people in this country who are confused by the sight of an egg that doesn't come wrapped in microwavable film with cooking instructions. I've long suspected that many teenagers become vegetarians because they are shocked to discover, in the course of their studies, that lamb chops come from baby sheep. However, it's only now beginning to dawn on me that there are people who are unnerved by any food that resembles something once living.

To return to the nanny, of whom I am actually very fond and whom the children love. When we took her on I explained that I expected her to make a square meal with fresh vegetables for my youngest son when he returns from school. On her first day here, I went to see what she had produced. As always, she had listened to what I had said and done her best. There were chips, there were sausages and there, on the side of the plate, were fresh vegetables -- three entirely raw green beans with the dusty earth of the walled garden still attached to them. …

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