When modern life gets out of control, there’s one refuge where I get to play God
It’s just as I’m about to start seasoning the rib of beef, massaging it with mustard powder, salt and lust like it were the thigh of an eager lover, that the question occurs to me. It’s one of those blunt, heavy-browed questions that forces you to stop what you are doing, palms forward over the meat. It is: why am I doing this? Why am I about to embark on cooking a meal of such intricacy? This fine rib – and it really is a marvel of marbling and crimson muscle – is only the advance guard. Alongside will have to come batter for Yorkshire puddings, the parboiling and roasting of potatoes, the grating of fresh horseradish, the tricky endgame of the gravy and so much else besides. There is work here.
The blunt answer is that we have friends coming for lunch and we must give them something. But that’s not good enough. The “something” really doesn’t have to be all this. Am I trying to flatter them, prove my deep affection through searing and seasoning, peeling and chopping? I hope not. We’ve been friends for long enough without all that malarkey. Hell, we’ve done takeaways together. If I sent out for lunch now they wouldn’t complain.