The pressure to be ‘fast’

by Ed Halmagyi


At times it feels like I’m living a lie, an awful culinary deception. Week after week, year upon year, I design and create all manner of dishes. Some are new, some are re-inventions of those I have cooked before, while other are little more than an elocution of the recipes I myself was taught over many years in the kitchen.

So far, so good. But all too often, things are not quite as they seem. It’s the fast bit that troubles me.

That not everyone can be fast is not always the biggest problem, but I do have an ever-present niggling in the back of my mind, questioning how others would go reproducing these dishes in the efficient manner I prepare them on screen. You see, I have made a career on the basis of a promise to save you time in front of the stove, while still helping you to create simply delicious meals. It troubles me that some might not have the same experience.

And so it was as I waited in the queue at the supermarket that a polite (if rather gruff) grandmother accosted me about this very issue. I’d put a tenner on her being Polish – the thick accent was hard to hide – but her meaning was clear in spite of the dialectic differences we may have had.

“I like you”, she said, “But you no are always the truth.”

I was slightly affronted and a little bewildered, but I did the only polite thing I could do (other than move to the next line). I asked her to explain.

“The foods are always lovely”, she assured me, “But I am not so much younger any more, and the preparations and choppings are long for me. You are not so much ‘fast’ mister Edward, only a little bit.”

At that she wandered off, leaving me disconsolate and somewhat troubled.

But also motivated, let me assure you. So for you, my dear lady of the shopping trolley, here is a recipe that anyone can manage in less than half an hour, including the knife work. There’s not much chopping, and only two real steps.

Oh, and by the way, thanks for the wake-up call!

You’ll find the recipe here.