Me and my kitchen

Sophie King is het pseudoniem voor journaliste Jane Bidder. Ze is de auteur van enkele succesvolle boeken. Als journaliste schreef ze diverse artikelen voor onder meer The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express en Woman.  Ook schrijft ze korte verhalen en geeft ze lessen in creatief  schrijven. De kookclub is alweer haar derde chicklit. Nu is het tijd voor Sophie King om op visite te komen bij Chicklit.nl en speciaal voor ons schreef ze de column Me and my kitchen...

‘Sorry,’ I yell into my mobile phone which is crammed between my floury shoulder and my face which bears traces of egg yolk. ‘I can’t talk at the moment because I’m having a bit of a fight with dinner.’
Fortunately, my husband who is at the other end, understands. Since he married me, nearly two years ago, he’s come to understand that the kitchen and I go together as easily as two left gloves, despite the fact that during my previous marriage I managed to bring up three children with only two cases of food poisoning.
Personally, I blame school. Why? Because at the age of 14, I was given the choice between domestic science and Latin. Now I don’t want you to think I’m a geek because actually, Latin wasn’t my natural choice. But the domestic science teacher gave me a dry run with the sewing machine and I ended up hemming my finger and being rushed to hospital. As for the cookery bit, lets just say that my treacle tart resulted in another girl’s dental braces springing apart well before they were due to be replaced by the orthodontist. So Latin it was!
I’d like to blame my mother as well for my minimal cooking skills but now I’ve got a grown up daughter, I can see why my mother used to say things like ‘This kitchen is too small for two of us’. There’s nothing more annoying than having to dance round someone else when they are poking their heads into cupboards that you want to get to first.
I did however, have a wonderful ‘uncle and aunt’ who lived in our road and weren’t relatives at all. Since they didn’t have any grandchildren of their own, I was often asked round to make fudge. I didn’t do that particularly well either, come to think of it, but they never once complained about the sugar stains on the kitchen floor.
Like anything that is banned, I couldn’t wait to start cooking properly when I left home so when I discovered that Sunday nights were ‘make your own dinner nights’ at university, I took to it with relish. So much so, that I asked for foreign cookery books for my birthday and inflicted my exotic interpretations on my then boyfriend. ‘Couldn’t we have something a bit simpler?’ he would ask plaintively.
There was only one answer to that. I married someone else who seemed quite happy for me to cook, provided there was a meal on the table when he got in from work. Fair do’s. However, by then, I’d been working as a features editor of a parenting magazine so was buzzing with ideas about what babies should eat. When my first son arrived, I refused to buy him any of those sweet little baby jars and insisted on pureeing my own vegetables and stewing meat for far longer than I should have done, to make sure it was cooked properly.
Needless to say, son number one didn’t think much of my food either and grew up into a rather skinny little boy who is now a rather slender young man. (In fact, the only time I recall him ever wolfing anything down was when he discovered a packet of chocolate mints after a dinner party.)
By now, my cooking had become a rather tiresome family joke. My sister wouldn’t miss an opportunity to poke fun at puddings which ran into soggy messes instead of coming out neatly in moulds like the pictures in the cookery book. The good side was that I lost a great deal of weight by eating raw carrot sticks instead, on the grounds that even I couldn’t go wrong with those.
And then I got the idea for The Supper Club. By then, I’d had three novels out and was still freelancing as a journalist. I also had three children and a husband on the way out, so I still didn’t have much of an appetite. But then I read a magazine piece about how, with the new economic climate, it was becoming popular for friends to invite each other round for supper once a month. It was cheaper than eating out at restaurants and it also meant friends had a regular ‘date’ with each other.
This gave me the idea for my novel. Not only did it allow me to create different characters but it also meant I could, as a writer, poke my noses into my characters’ different kitchens. And, as we all know, that’s almost irresistible! You can learn far more from a woman’s cookery books; her work surfaces; her cooker; and her cutlery drawer than you could ever learn from her wardrobe. I have friends who always wash up during the making of a meal and friends who fail to wash up two days after a meal. I have acquaintances whose cutlery is sparkling clean and others whose cutlery requires a silent wipe under the table with a napkin. If you want to know more, you’ll need to read my book!
Dinner party guests also come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve had charming people whose sparkling conversation has hidden the fact that my bread rolls require a hammer to open them. I’ve had guests who have left half their food on their plate, claiming they aren’t very hungry. And I once had one person who asked for seconds.
The fascinating thing about kitchens and guests is that you can tell how courteous people are from the way in which they do or don’t help. There’s a fine line, isn’t there? Personally, I don’t want anyone I don’t know to invade my kitchen. It would be like inviting a complete stranger to do a medical internal on me. Nor do I want anyone I do know to come into my kitchen because then they might look inside my cupboards and find saucepans which are stacked up like the Niagara Falls with cracked lids. On the other hand, I don’t like guests who sit at the table in between courses and don’t offer to lift a finger as though I’m a waitress. No wonder I don’t have many dinner parties any more…..
At least I didn’t until, after four years on my own, I married one of my old dinner party guests. He was actually a friend of the family and had brought several girlfriends over the years, to our table. (I liked one of them because she ate my burnt shepherd’s pie and then asked for the recipe).
What I hadn’t realised, when I married my wonderful new husband, is that he is as jealous of his kitchen rights as I am. ‘You shouldn’t load the dishwasher like that,’ he’ll say. Then I will point out that it’s not a great idea to fill the kettle so high because it splutters out when you pour it. That’s what comes of two people having lived on their own for some time… Now, however, we’ve reached a compromise. I make some of his meals; he makes some of his and most of mine; and he washes up. I reckon I’ve got the best deal because it frees up my time for writing.
Mind you, I still see the kitchen as ‘mine’. In fact, there’s a plaque hanging on the wall which says it all. I bought it in Lake Placid four years ago on my first holiday alone with my youngest son. It reads like this: ‘A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.’

Sophie King 

De kookclub

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    Lucy is een middle aged ' single knoeimoeder van drie' en heeft last van het 'legenestsyndroom' nu haar oudste gaat studeren. Haar vriend Mike is knap, huiselijk en speelt graag chauffeur voor haar tieners. Wanneer Lucy haar vrienden voor een dinertje uitnodigt, verloopt de avond heel anders dan verwacht. Net daarvoor heeft Mike's beste vriend Antony zijn vrouw en twee kinderen verlaten voor een oogverblindend mooi model. Zijn vrouw Maggie is ontroostbaar. Lucy's zus, Jenny, is (nog steeds) single en runt een succesvol evenementenbedrijf terwijl hun vriendin Crissie haar leven en huwelijk, die volledig geregeerd worden door haar jonge zoon, weer op de rails probeert te krijgen. Toch blijft de groep elkaar voor de kookclub uitnodigen en in de loop van het jaar, wordt de chaos in de vriendengroep alleen maar groter...

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