Making a meal of it

For  someone who doesn’t own a mixing bowl or a 12-hole bun tin, I watch a lot of food and cookery programmes. Blame it on Holby City, Toilet Duck, fungal infections and mouthwash. Stick with me on this one.

After a hard day at the coalface of magazine publishing, I arrive home at 8pm, prepare my microwave meal and sit down in front of the TV to eat. And without fail, just as I’m about to tuck into my M&S Lemon & Ginger Chicken Curry, the adverts come on. Suddenly I’m bombarded with giant toes brandishing discoloured nails, close-ups of lavatories in need of a clean, and mouthwash: ‘Simply swish, spit, and see the results in the sink!’ Er, not when I’m eating, thank you. I hastily switch channels, only to witness a patient in hospital drama Holby City vomiting into a bowl. Nice.

In an attempt to skip the sick and lose the lav, I turned to MasterChef. In fact, I’ve become so hooked, that when my microwave pings, I pretend I have two minutes to plate up and present my meal to the programme’s hosts, John and Gregg. Will my Tesco Lamb Moussaka, lovingly microwaved to within an inch of its potato topping, get me through to the next round?

But it isn’t only MasterChef that provides food for thought. Man v. Food, fronted by the boyishly handsome and charismatic Adam Richman has my stomach rumbling and my heart skipping in equal measure. Adam travels around America visiting pig-out establishments, sampling the house specialities and taking on scoff-tastic food challenges.

In Man v. Food, portions are always huge and look delicious. Burger buns burst with chicken, beef, melted cheese and pickles, and come served with generous side orders of fries and onion rings. No use denying it, the show brings out my inner American. I long to devour those juicy burgers dripping with melted cheese, or order a multi-deck marinated meat and salad sandwich. It’s this naughty-but-nice attraction that makes Man v. Food so watchable. I can enjoy my fantasy of  tucking into grub I don’t usually eat, while my hero Adam clogs up his arteries for me. Now that’s what I call love.

Despite the onslaught of boiling and baking and roasting and toasting, until recently I simply let these programmes wash over me as I ate, never seriously thinking I was actually going to cook anything. The notion just doesn’t appeal to me. I get home late, I’m tired and hungry, and I’m certainly not ready to spatchcock a chicken. But the relentless drip, drip, drip of MasterChef and Man v. Food, seems to have seeped into my foodie subconscious.

Inexplicably, on a recent overcast Sunday afternoon, I suddenly had the urge to make rhubarb crumble (or, more accurately, to eat some). The concept of using my oven other than for something to rest pans on, came as a body blow. I’m still getting to grips with the idea, so don’t expect  to find me in the kitchen elbow-deep in flour and marge just yet. But I’ll get there eventually. I’ve found the recipe and am working up to buying a pie dish. One step at a time, Jules. One step at a time. Just  hope I don’t make a fruit fool of myself and crumble at the first hurdle. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding.