It’s the Fourth of July so, to celebrate our independence from those turbulent colonials, I’m making that staple of Imperial India – a Kedgeree – for supper this evening.
I begin by grinding all the spices, by hand, in a mortar and pestle. Ten seconds after starting to wield the pestle with vigour, my nostrils explode. After ten minutes or so, the sneezing subsides enough that I can re-enter the kitchen and – cautiously – carry on. I might just have overdone the dried birdseye chillies.
Then Phay strolls in and, before I can stop her, sticks her nose into the mortar. The cat explodes. Having talked her down from the rhododendron and wiped her streaming eyes, I return to the fray. Moriarty sticks his head around the corner, sniffs, and legs it. Distant feline spluttering is heard.
I’ve then just got through the first phase of frying up the spices (not actually wearing a respirator, but I did consider it) when Gill gets back from Edinburgh, leaps into the kitchen and cries, “Darling!…”. This is immediately followed by a sharp intake of breath, a gasped “W-w-what’s that?!” and she vanishes, with a dopplering, “Aaiiieeeee…”, into the far reaches of the house.
Well darling, I’ve got news for you: the results will be arriving on a plate near you, within the next hour. I’ve checked the paperwork: our affairs are in order.