Bloke Food 101

beer can chicken.jpg

After a delicious meal of Korean-style stir fry prepared by Tech Support (with the obligatory bit of theatre at the table mixing it all together and carefully positioning a fried egg on top – Tech Support loves a bit of performance art at dinnertime), the discussion turned to defining what exactly is Bloke Food?

The male panellists present agreed there are 4 questions to ask when defining what constitutes Bloke Food:

  1. Can you cook it on a barbie?
  2. Does it go with lager?
  3. Is it easy, greasy and cheesy?
  4. Does it go well with a food I already love (see point 2*)?

*The panel assured me that beer is a food, in fact, it can be an entire meal.

Further guidelines:

  • A recipe is like an instruction manual for flat pack furniture. You look at the picture and essentially know how to make it. No further reference to the text is required.
  • Anything goes with anything, regardless of taste, provenance or culinary region (eg. tomato sauce is fine if you don’t have any soy sauce)
  • If you’re not sure what to do next, drink a beer and then decide.
  • Double carbs are OK. Triple carbs are even better.
  • If it doesn’t have meat, you’re doing it wrong (except dessert)
  • Bacon can only make things better in every situation including dessert (which directly contradicts the above point I know, but again I refer back to the panel who say that bacon isn’t meat, it’s on an entirely different plane of eating).
  • A dim sim is a perfectly acceptable snack, nutritionally. After all, dim sims contain vegetables.
  • Salad is something that comes with a burger.

I consider myself an expert witness in the realm of bloke food.

As a person who grew up in a largely girl-shaped universe (Mum, sister, me and Dad, who was at work a lot), I had little chance to observe the male in his (un)natural habitat. As I was approaching middle age before I got my first boyfriend, their eating habits came as somewhat of a surprise. Those of the sisterhood who grew up with brothers won’t be at all surprised to hear that blokes have some peculiar eating habits.

The light began to dawn the first time I went to the movies with Mr August. He purchased a large coke and a Choc Top, then proceeded to eat the chocolate off the top, dump the ice cream into his coke and throw away the cone. Instant spider! I was appalled. Did he really just do that? I wondered. Did anyone else see? (you can see what a stitched-up little private school girl I was, can’t you?)

It was he who taught me the Tim Tam trick. You know the one where you inhale your Tim Tam through your cup of coffee and end up with chocky bicky all over your face?

The midnight drunken fry-up was another manly Mr A special. You take a couple of beaten eggs and pour them into the pan with whatever else you happen to have handy (bacon is good, but really anything will do that you can retrieve from the fridge and chop up without slicing your hand off, it’s a drunken fry-up remember?). You then grate loads of cheese over the top and wait for it to melt, while drinking a lager. You pour chilli sauce over it, eat it, then leave the pan, the chopping board, the knife and a few splodges of chilli sauce on the bench for someone else to find in the morning.

I’ve written previously about how Mr A still has the ability to surprise me. On Sunday night he did it again. We’d had roast lamb for dinner, and the dishes were done and the house settling in for the evening.

“Who’s hungry?” asked Mr A.

A chorus of “Me”s sprang up from various male bedrooms.

So Mr August set to work making toasties. We had ham. We had cheese. But no! Why use those boring staples when there was a container of leftover pasta in the fridge? (I had made sausage pasta the night before).

And so a new culinary Bloke Classic was invented – the Pasta Toastie!

I’m serious, toasted sandwiches with pasta in them. And cheese, of course.

And guess what? They yummed them up! Especially Happy Chin. It’s always a struggle to get him to eat during the day and here was dinner wrapped up in lunch! Brilliant! Add a fried egg and he could have had breakfast, lunch and dinner in one meal! (No doubt, this will now become a new blokey dish in our house once Mr A reads this – with optional chilli sauce. Stay tuned for the Instagram pics)

And as for alcohol in the cooking? I’m pleased to say the sexes don’t differ on this point. It’s ‘one for the pot, one for the cook,’ whatever your gender!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the Kids are on Facebook

20160505_134626-1.jpg

This week we celebrated another developmental milestone. Happy Chin discovered Facebook.

On returning home (with strict instructions from Mr August to pick up wine on the way home as HC was ‘being annoying’), I discovered a harried Tech Support trying to prepare the evening meal, Mr A deep in laundry duties, the Lamington nowhere to be found and HC getting under everyone’s feet.

I decamped to the couch with the laptop, inviting HC to join me with a suggestion of YouTube. We love YouTube in our house. It doesn’t matter how ancient or obscure the episode of Bob the Builder – you can find it on YouTube…and get a little peace for fifteen minutes or so.

“What would you like to watch?” I enquired.

“Facebook,” replied Happy Chin.

Facebook??? In the parlance of the day, WTF? He knows about Facebook?

So I dragged my chin up off the floor and fired up the good old FB. Obviously, one of his carers must have been on Facebook at some point and shown him something that piqued his interest. How hard could this be to narrow down?

“OK, then, what do you want to see on Facebook?” I asked.

“Facebook,” he replied.

Great.

I pressed on.

“Was it something you saw on Facebook? A talking dog? A dancing parrot? The Temple City Kazoo Orchestra performing Seven Nation Army?”

“Facebook!” he insisted, jabbing the screen with his index finger.

Happy Chin’s technology has hitherto all been Apple-based, so he doesn’t exactly get that our laptop isn’t a touch screen. We’ve tried to explain this without success. I’m getting quite worried about the screen. Yet another thing to see if our home and contents insurance covers….we’ve already found that Apple don’t cover iPods getting wee’d on in bed or hurled against walls. I made a mental note to have another interesting conversation with the insurance company soon.

“Mate, Facebook is a very big place. You have got to use your words to tell me what you want to see.”

“Face-Book!” he replied, with emphasis.

Yeah, I admit, I fell into that one.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of healthier eating, I had a bowl of nuts which I was bribing him to eat instead of pre-dinner chips or crackers. Eat a nut, then I’ll find what you want online. Quid pro quo. So he ate a nut. Great! No, damn! Now I had to miraculously find this needle in the Facebook haystack.

Turns out he really likes nuts, so that side of the transaction was going well.

Really, I don’t know what I expected from him. He was hardly going to say “I want to see the video of the cute little cat who’s terrified of the vacuum cleaner.” But one day it might happen, so I keep asking.

Lately I’ve started asking more and more complex things of Happy Chin, just for the hell of it. He often surprises me. I recently asked him to shoo the chickens out of the laundry (they sneak in and eat the dogs’ food) and he not only shoo’d them out with a very robust “Pitt op,” he also closed the back door so they couldn’t get back in. I hadn’t asked him to shut the door, so I thought this showed encouraging initiative on his part.

I’ve also developed the habit of nattering away to him in the car about whatever pops into my head. He doesn’t seem to mind and who knows what language he’ll pick up while I blather on at him? Hopefully not “you stupid idiot, you give way to the right at a roundabout! Where did you get your license? The corn flakes packet?”

For several years we home educated HC. We ran a home program where we (and our team of amazing volunteers) worked with him in his playroom one-on-one. Sometimes, when he didn’t feel like participating or just if I was getting bored, I’d play by myself or sing songs to his toys. One of the wonderful teachers at the Autism Treatment Centre in the US (who had also run a home program for her child) told me she used to make up little songs and sing them to her daughter’s dolls.

“Barbie loves Ken. But he’s in love with another girl. That Bratz doll with the low-cut pants….lalala”

If you have a problem, Happy Chin is a great listener. He never interrupts. He never actually gives any valuable advice either, but you can’t have everything. Sometimes it’s enough for someone to just sit and listen. Granted, it is a bit disconcerting when you’ve just poured out all your problems to someone and they turn to you at the end and say, “Milkshake.” But it could be worse. They could say, “you are a complete loser and you’ve made a huge mess of your entire life. Now get me a milkshake.”

I never did find out what he wanted on Facebook. But we had a nice time sitting together on the couch. For years, we assumed when HC said a word it was because he wanted that thing. Only recently have we realised he may just want to talk about it. And have someone stop for five minutes to listen and be interested. Or even just pretend to be interested.

I’m going to continue to view our interaction as a developmental milestone, an interaction common to many parents of young people. Young person approaches parent to share the cool thing they’ve seen online, parent feigns interest, everyone is happy.

I have a fridge magnet that says “Pseudo Authentic Enthusiasm next 2-3 hours.” It’s false advertising. I’m not capable of 2-3 hours’ worth. But I can manage it for long enough to get the laundry folded and dinner on the table.