All the virtue without the flavour...
|I love watching Nigella Lawson on television, listening to her enthuse wildly about food. Even if I just sat with my eyes closed, I could listen to her talk all day about glistening chocolate and velvety something else. She is a master of words. Indeed, she is a writer like so many other hopefuls here on Writing.com.
I was given one of Nigella's recipe books for Christmas. I love recipe books, and the heavy copper chickens in my pantry are struggling to hold their combined weight upright. I would snuggle my new Nigellisima book (the very first of hers that I own) up to my Gordon Ramsay books and nudge some of the others further into the depths of the pantry. But first, I sat down to browse through the deliciousness.
Mmm, so many glorious treats, comfort foods and new inspirations. I love soup, although my family aren't so keen, and the Tortellini Minestrone caught my eye. Such an abundance of vegetables. It seemed the ultimate in healthy comfort foods. Healthy and comforting? Surely those two words don't belong in the same sentence? I must try it.
So I found a large metal saucepan and set it on the stove, and gathered vegetables by the dozen (or so it seemed) to prepare this new gourmet delight. Baby peas, leeks, potato, celery, courgette and green beans were all sauteed in garlic oil and thyme. They looked divine. What a beautiful combination of greens. Bright green, dark green, light green, all mingling together in my saucepan. Then you add the water and it starts to look more like a soup.
One clever step is to remove several ladlefuls of the vegetables before adding the canneloni beans and tortellini (green tortellini, to keep the theme going!). These are blended with basil and parmesan cheese before being added back into the soup. At this stage I was sure the taste would be beautiful, with the parmesan, basil, thyme and garlic melding with those fresh vegetables to create a symphony of flavours. The presentation did leave a little to be desired after adding the pureed vegetables. I wrinkled my nose at the contents of the saucepan which looked rather like I imagined the soup would look if you ate it and then regurgitated it. Still, it was healthy and it smelled wonderful.
I dished up four bowls full of this green concotion. My family barely raised an eyebrow at the sight - ah, their trust that I wouldn't serve up a bowl of vomit warmed the cockles of my heart.
I inhaled the aroma, beamed at my husband and took a sip of Tortellini Minestrone. What an anticlimax. Where was the flavour? I hadn't removed anything, had the taste simply evaporated with the steam?
"Some salt and pepper, perhaps?" my husband asked with a smirk. I glared at him, but accepted the proferred seasonings nonetheless.
I managed to eat half the bowl. I couldn't even feel virtuous for eating all those vegetables; the bitter taste of disappointment ruined the dish for me altogether.
Ah, Nigella, it is good to see that you are as human and fallible as the rest of us. I shan't give up on you, for too often you assist me in creating such masterpieces with very little effort. But this one...I won't be making again.