A friend came round just after Christmas with his wife and children – a chance to tidy up the last of the turkey, exchange little presents, that sort of thing. We got chatting about food, and he told me about how just recently his sixteen year old son had wanted some custard of an evening – apparently he is quite a fan of Bird’s Custard Powder (who isn’t). They had run out, and the shops were all closed, so he decided to make it himself, from eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Now I have to admit I thought this was turning into one of those stories, that goes “so we pulled out your book Five Fat Hens, read through the recipe and cooked the best custard ever.” I assure you all food-writers live for such moments.
“So,” he continued “we just went into the kitchen with his iphone, looked up a recipe-demo for custard on YouTube and got on with it.” I tried not to let my bottom lip start trembling, I may have just got away with it, just. I’m not sure. I asked the son if it had been better than Bird’s?
“Yes it was,” but he thought it “quite a hassle”. Would he make it again?
“Yes.” Now he’d done it once he knew the recipe right? “Well, err, no – but no problem – I’ll just look it up on YouTube next time I need it.”
And that is the problem. If I read something in a book, then it gets stuck in my mind – I don’t know how, but it does. If I see it on the television, YouTube, telephone, whatever, then I don’t really remember it. It is no more a long-term memory than the recipes I saw some telly-chef knocking-up last year.
Books; they’re good to learn stuff from.