Butterflies, an ancient Italian recipe and it’s all adrift in the middle lane

Me and another pal enjoy our own culinary diversion while delivering emergency lasagne rescue information.
Me and another pal enjoy our own culinary diversion while delivering emergency lasagne rescue information.

It’s a while since I’ve been on a first date. Himself will be relieved to hear that I just date him these days, what with us being married and all. So I’ve been over excited at a friend’s dating exploits, assuming the role of seasoned campaigner who has now retired to a desk job and worked her way up to the lofty heights of ‘mission control.’

So it was after what seemed like months of preparation, my operative was out in the field and en route to the ‘mega date’ – which would require her to look good (she does), cook like a domestic Goddess once there (erm, nope) and find her way all on her own (bless him, he sent her a satnav in the post; love him already).

Given everything that had ever seen a hair follicle had been plucked or coloured, nails lacquered, wardrobe sorted, a few ‘what shall I say if…’ scenarios roll-played, it was just down to the cooking.

My operative is half Italian. Unfortunately the Italian half appeared to be driving the car while the Welsh half was struggling to remember the lasagne recipe she had been so confident(ish) about before setting off.

It went like this:

Her (morning before setting off, on yard, mucking out ponies): It got so late last night – because I had to reduce down the red wine – that it was midnight by the time that was done and I ran out of time, so what shall I do?
Me: Take the ingredients, make the rest of it there, you’ve done the difficult bit
Her (relief washing over worried features crammed under her ‘mucking out’ hat): Oh, great, you’re right, it’ll be fine.

Two hours pass, my phone chirrups, lovely, a text.

Her: ‘I have forgotten how to make a béchamel sauce. Help!
Me: Saucepan on low heat. Melt a good stick of butter, about quarter of the slab, don’t allow it to colour. When liquid mix in sifted flour using a wooden spoon, working fast until you have a paste, add a little at a time until it thickens, add a drop of milk to ‘relax’ the mixture (still stirring), then return to the heat and add the bulk of your milk (still stirring). Don’t add all of the milk as you need it to thicken as it heats. If too thick you can always add more milk but it needs to be quite thick. KEEP stirring the whole time. Add grated cheese, season and taste at the end, adjust the seasoning.
Her: ‘Thanks. What are the order of the lasagne layers please HQ?!!
Me: Oh pants, I thought this was your signature dish ?….(so I gave the layer sequence and tips about a baking sheet under the lasagne dish to prevent drips leading a pointless half hour scrubbing the oven).
Her: ‘What temperature should lasagne be at please?’
Me: By now starting to suspect that the ‘signature dish’ is more akin to a drive by shooting once in student accommodation and not something learned at Napoli Nona’s knee. However, ‘Roger that’ and on with the life-saving information. Then sent a follow up text. It said this: “Please send me address and co-ordinates in case of adverse reaction to cocked-up lasagne.”

As it turned out, and it did (although I’ve still not had my lasagne dish back), both survived remote control recipe instruction and had a great time. I have, however, put my foot down. I now want (and deserve) a laptop and one of those little Madonna mics with some sort of hidden camera buried in a beef tomato for the next foray into ‘L’s Kichin – LOL’.

We’ve kept the menu for the next venture simple though, there is only so much texting one can cope with on one’s iSpoon sans reading specs


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