Love Bites: Michelin stars in our eyes
This month's columnist finds lockdown joy in the magic of MasterChef
“Tony, come and taste this!” shouts my flatmate from the kitchen.
“So, what are we cooking, Stephen?” I ask, wandering in.
“Well, on the menu today is sous vide pork mince that’s then been lightly pan-fried for colour and caramelization. It’s going to be served with a garnish of cavolo nero, samphire, whisky-soaked baby carrots, confit jersey royals and roasted girolles, an onion and celeriac puree, yuzu gel and a veal jus infused with cumin, rosemary and black garlic,” replies Stephen, wholly inaccurately describing his extremely basic one-pot chilli.
“You’ve given yourself a lot of work to do, Stephen,” I say, bent double with laughter. “I just hope the whiskey doesn’t overpower the flavour of that rich, deep sauce. Also, this needs more salt. Not surprised you didn’t realise with that unrefined palate of yours.”
This is the pattern most of our conversations take these days. With lockdown came a joint passion (or is it a shared delusion?) to spend all mealtimes with our close personal friends Marcus (Wareing, chef), Monica (Galetti, chef) and Gregg (Wallace, greengrocer, crucially not a chef, an important distinction we will not let go), and their coterie of variably talented MasterChef: The Professionals contestants.
This has brought routine – no, ritual – to our formless days, and the comfort of collective emotions. We laugh together when some poor victim commits career suicide in the skills test, embarrassingly unable to fillet a John Dory. We wince when the judges use a slur to describe fried balls of offal (surely there’s another word for that?). We salivate at boozy, creamy desserts and cheer when Marcus waxes lyrical about some underdog’s elaborately concocted dish. We are running a three Michelin star restaurant in our heads. Oui, chef!
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