I am about to boil some peas when I idly pick up the saucepan I have chosen for this task and turn it around.I read the underside and notice for the first time ever the brand of saucepan we have been using all these years.
READY STEADY COOK.
“That’s weird,” I think. “Ready Steady Cook?”
I stare at it a second more, then realise…
“This is a TV tie-in saucepan!”
I don’t know why this affects me so much. It is a perfectly good saucepan that has served us extremely well over the years.
Peas, corn, carrots – there is almost nothing you can put in it of a certain size which it will not hold while you boil it. It has never let us down. Ever.
But somehow, I feel cheated.
Like I’m one of those people who buy TV tie-in saucepans.
I’m definitely not. Yet the proof is right here in front of me.
How did this get here? Surely I’d have noticed if I’d walked into a shop and bought a Ready Steady Cook saucepan? With this saucepan, I am directly aligning myself with people who go to daytime cookery show TV recordings to hold up red tomato or green pepper signs at Ainsley Harriott. That is not who I thought I was at all.
I text my wife, who’s in Australia.
“What was that cookery show I was on once?” I write. “Was it Ready Steady Cook?”
Maybe they gave me a pan? But I’d remember being given a single saucepan as a parting gift. I’d look ludicrous walking around with it afterwards. People would have kept coming up to me, asking me why I was carrying a saucepan.
My wife replies.
“It’s 4am here,” she writes. “What?"
Ah. I thought she’d probably just reply in the morning.
“I was on some cookery show with Antony Worrall Thompson,” I write.
But he hadn't given me a pan afterwards, I remember. He’d given me a voucher for a free steak at his restaurant, but by the time I got round to it, it’d closed down.
“Are you drunk?” replies my wife.
Maybe I’m being too pompous about having a saucepan associated with daytime television. It’s just that in my mind, when I’m holding a saucepan and about to boil some peas, I’d rather flip it over and see some kind of sleekly-etched Scandinavian name, like Bøylpëas or something. In my head I’ve got granite worktops and a triple-size stainless-steel fridge packed with kale and chopped spinach. I don’t. With my wife away, it’s mainly been Bitburger. But discovering the reality doesn't match the mindset and in such a personal and mundane way is like coming home and discovering Gregg Wallace has licked all my forks. “Dan?” texts my wife, disturbing my thoughts.
“Antony Worrall Thompson,” I reply, and I sort of feel like I’m wasting her time now. I doubt she’ll reply to this one.
Why do I feel it’s wrong to have a Ready Steady Cook saucepan? This is snobbery at its worst. What – do I think I’m like something out of a magazine? “It was ‘Cooking Daily’ or something,” replies ol’ faithful. “You made a curry. I’m so tired. What time is it there? Why do you need to know?”
I’ll probably just leave it now. I’ll explain another time. Rest, sweet woman. Worry no longer about my important queries.
But yes! It was Daily Cooks Challenge. Gino D’Acampo had put a chilli in some chocolate. You see? That’s who I am. I’m Gino D’Acampo putting chilli in chocolate. That sums up who I should be perfectly. People would come round and I’d have just finished making some, and they’d be like, “Wow, your fridge is massive and so full of unusual Chinese vegetables you probably bought from an out-of-the-way place that only Chinese people go to but whose owner and customers have come to accept you because of your respect for their cuisine and your skills in the kitchen.” And then I’d turn over my saucepan, smile, and reveal it was a DAILY COOKS CHALLENGE-branded saucepan with a little Gino signature underneath. Loads better than READY STEADY COOK.
“Dan?” texts my wife.
God, she’s still awake. Go to sleep, woman!
I should never have texted her. It was instinct. I need to come up with something important that shows I have not been wasting her time.
I could say I’m with Gino D’Acampo. Maybe we’re in a bar making obvious double entendres and pretending we don’t realise. “I’d like a big Italian sausage,” that kind of thing. But this feels like it might just lead to a lot more questions, like “Why are you in a bar with Gino D’Acampo?” I should be honest: that vanity and self-importance can extend even to basic homewares. Honesty speaks volumes. Honesty she’ll understand. “I’ve just noticed we have a Ready Steady Cook saucepan,” I write.
I wonder if I’ll ever hear from that woman again.
Time to die
Anthony Schia was inspecting grandfather clocks in Swanage, just as we’ve all done, and was pleased to see the shop’s owner was a little more straight-talking than most. DO NOT TRY AND OPEN. IT WILL FALL OVER AND KILL YOU. Please come again!
Finally, 'a place for real men'
If you’re ever in Prague hanging out with Gino D’Acampo (see main column) then you will have ever so much fun if you take him here because of the fun you can have with its name. Byron Wilkinson loves anywhere that’s a “place for a real men”.