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ode to the pizza pan

This post was written by Emma on September 25, 2013
Posted Under: living in portugal

You know how when you’ve decided to buy a new car then the old one starts falling apart? Like it’s pissed off and seeking attention? That’s what’s happening in our kitchen.

kitch 3 _Snapseed

A new kitchen has been on the cards for years, 6 years to be exact, but finally I can actually see it happening in a few months time. And so all of our appliances are failing.  The bedroom (the space that will liberate the living room, the same floor on which the kitchen will sprout) is taking about a month or three longer than expected, but that’s to be expected. I will continue to be vague about when the kitchen will happen given that the following has to be completed first:

Plaster

Paint

Buy cupboard-build cupboard-install cupboard

Something about the steps and hole in the floor

Hang doors

Clear living room

Fix walls (multiple things there) and limewash

Paint fireplace and woodstore

Install fan

Clean floor

Stain floor, varnish floor

Skirting boards

And then get kitchen

Back to the appliances. First the microwave developed an unhealthy hole in its bottom and has been delivered to the recyclers. The fridge’s thermostat is buggered – ice cream melts and lettuce freezes – and the door falls off every time you use it. The small food processor that’s good for pastes and pesto decided to eat itself and vomit into a lovely batch of hummus last week. And our master appliance, the pizza pan, has an anomaly in its electrical parts and is held together with tape.

It may not sound like much but believe me, this is a threat to our survival. I have been cooking dinner every night for the last two years exclusively using this pan. That’s right. We have no cooktop, no oven, no other electric whatsamitoosis. This is it. This is the end.

bunless-burger

Is there anyone out there who remembers when I cooked all my meals over a fire in the old kitchen? Those were the days. Unadulterated interior camping. Now we have the infinitely less bragworthy circumstance called “making do”.

Looking back I wonder what the hell I was cooking all those non-lonely nights. Spaghetti, I expect. That fireplace had two burners and that’s one more than I have now. Bloody luxury having two burners, mate. So what the hell could I be cooking now? Beans on toast?

The One – “We have a variety of very nice things. We enjoy many cuisines from around the globe. Sometimes it’s simple, done very well and sometimes it’s very exotic. My favourite thing? That would be like naming my favourite child. Purdy, for example.”

Simple? With one pan, it’s never that simple. But they do say that creative people need boundaries to excel themselves. Or maybe that’s advertising bullshit, I can’t remember. One thing’s for sure, we eat damn well in this house especially considering I keep us to a €20 a week meat budget because The One has never eaten a vegetarian meal in his life.There are many things that can be done with one pan. The trick is to have many many things so you can keep eating from one pan day after day after bloody day. I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to bake.  (no wait… lasagne!… roast lamb!… lemon delicious pudding!).

purdy2

Some of our simpler regulars include stir fried salt and pepper cuttlefish (just add a pile of lettuce), hamburgers, and… um… steak and egg. (I never imagined I’d marry someone who got excited about having steak and egg, but there you are. Why bother with lamb tagine if he’s that easily pleased.)

These fall into the simple range because the pan is used in only one sitting. However, The One is also a carbohydrate queen I mean king and potatoes and rice make my life complex. We eat chips about 20 times a week, and these have to be done in a separate pan-sitting, take ages and can only really be successfully served with something that cooks very quickly so they don’t get cold. Tragic. Slivers of fish for instance, but never salmon. Steaks, but never a chunky t-bone.

fish-curry

Clever types will be thinking BBQ. And I do, but I’m shit at it. I blame the equipment, which is a stack of bricks with a flat top and a pile of charcoal. I might be alright with a decent weber or gas, but you need time and attention for a real barbie, neither of which I have on an empty stomach. And others will be thinking ‘stir-fries!’, that one-wok wonder at the fundament of every Sydney professional’s cooking repertoire. But, the pizza pan is not a wok and I’m shit at stir fries too. There’s another pretty good one-panner, risotto, but The One With The Food Habits doesn’t like risotto much and anyway my favourite is with roasted pumpkin.

With our rice-cooking microwave gone, so has our main staple, curry. There’s the thai green chicken, the massaman beef, the lime and coconut fish curry, the prawn kurma, red soupy pork curry, and the multi-veg yellow curry. Sometimes I do like a pretend wet tandoori, which is a yoghurt and spices trip, with fillets instead of boned pieces. Now if I’m doing rice I have to cook it first and like pasta it really doesn’t go so well in a frypan.

gratin

Instead I’m making a lot more larb. Thai salads. Pork mince makes for a great larb and my new favourite butcher is the first I’ve met here who will mince turkey and chicken – the supermarkets don’t produce it packaged and usually butchers don’t want to foul their mincers. So, quite a pile of finely chopped lettuce and cabbage, shredded red pepper and carrot, onion, cherry tomatoes and cucumber topped with lashing of spicy mince, fried with heaps of garlic, dried chilli, fish sauce when I’ve got it and soy and vinegar when I don’t (it’s a trip to the big city for fish sauce as with oyster, and sweet chilli is a rarer treat, this bloody monoculture) and a lot of lime, juice and zest. Thank god for limes, chilli and coriander, and the coconut milk, which surely must have come from African and Indian adventures. But nothing from Macau except soy? Certainly the Portuguese learnt nothing culinary from Indonesia either, and were arrogant enough to say they brought tempura to Japan, but brought nothing back. Their loss.

This limited kitchen makes me invent stuff. Lately we’ve got this salad going with chicken livers and bacon, served with beetroot and spinach leaves and a balsamic dressing. The bacon – from the Saturday market, superb stuff – also embellishes a potato gratin, with onions, cooked first in wine or stock and then cream and cheese with a nice acidicly-dressed salad. Gorgeous. Big fat quality potatoes from our neighbours at €10 a sack which I consider a very fair trade. They make chips (The One’s job, by the way) that are worth waiting for. Then there was the warm rabbit salad we had the other day. A little hopper from the neighbours, trimmed and marinated in vinegar and oregano for a day and then panned with big cepas mushrooms and rosemary and a few caramelised sweet potato rounds. Adorable. I’ve got my eye on the neighbour’s ducks too, for my list of things called first thing I’m putting in the oven when it comes. After cannelloni. And chocolate pudding.

And so the hardworking pan. I didn’t think anything was made so durable anymore. But it has made a thousand meals, and yet never a pizza, which apparently it was designed for. Perhaps I should try it, before the poor thing dies of jealousy.

 

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Reader Comments

  Written By Dee Hawa
#1 
on October 1st, 2013 @ 10:39 pm

ok Emma, it’s time for the receipe book! Always makes
my mouth water when you talk food….!

[Reply to comment]

  Written By Vern
#2 
on November 9th, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

Oh Emma !

I just love your stunning photos. I think you produce some of the best pictures I have ever seen. They are so clear, almost like crystal.
Your pics’ of food make me want to eat the food portrayed.
I never tire of looking at your gorgeous webpage.
Keep the bog rolling.

I have just launched my first ever webpage:. This details budget travel, reviews of eBooks and dvd’s, and a story of opera. Plus the adventures of yachts that sail around the globe.

happywanderingphilosopher.com

[Reply to comment]

  Written By kathy
#3 
on November 30th, 2013 @ 5:40 am

was searching for piri piri chicken and happened on your site. I’m going to have to go through your posts just to get up to speed but you sound like you could have crossed north america in a covered wagon with just a camp stove to cook on. So is this pizza thing like a electric griddle/pancake thing? If that’s all you’ve been cooking on for years one has to wonder what amazing things you will come up with when you actually have a stove and oven. When’s this kitchen going to be ready again?

[Reply to comment]

  Written By Emma
#4 
on November 30th, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

it’s just a frypan really… I don’t see how it could cook pizzas, unless they were those horrible thick & greasy things that were around many years back. Kathy, you get me. I ‘d love to cross america in a covered wagon, provided that the rest of the kit was top notch adventure gear… sounds like an excellent sponsored blog idea!
No real progress on the kitchen, except that the One decided to test the electrics and connected the oven! So I have experienced what happens when I have the technology, to find that I cook ordinary things like roast chicken and lemon pudding. Delicious and wonderful but definitely proof that limitations make people more creative. That said, I’m looking forward to many meals with neighbour’s duck… which I’ve never cooked before!

[Reply to comment]

  Written By Rew
#5 
on May 6th, 2014 @ 8:14 am

“Certainly the Portuguese learnt nothing culinary from Indonesia either, and were arrogant enough to say they brought tempura to Japan, but brought nothing back. Their loss.”

Didn’t understand that one (?) Arrogance?? Loss??

What are you talking about????

Japan and Portugal in the mid of the 16th century were completely different from today. Portugal was then at height of their Asian Empire, Japan just started their unification process.

Tempura is a sign of aculturation – integration of the most powerful culture into the smaller one.

Didn’t that happened “elsewhere” too?

Besides, discounting vocabulary, there are Asian influences in our culture too – with Tea first in line, of course. The word “chá” was first written in a Portuguese work in the second half of the 16th century.

And did you know that Portugal was the European country who wrote the most about Japan and Japanese culture in the 16th century?

Including writing treaties comparing both civilizations, their habits and cultural differences, with striking anthropological curiosity (and yes, gastronomy was described too, of course)?

For such a brief period of important open commercial and cultural trades, lasting only for about 50 to 60 years (by the 1610′s was decaying and by 1630′s was shut down literally speaking), this dialog was actually very prolific.

[Reply to comment]

Emma   Reply: May 21st, 2014 at 9:22 am

@Rew, thanks. You’re right, there’s no denying just how brilliant and pioneering the portuguese were. I’m just complaining (again) that there’s no japanese restaurant at the end of my street ;).

[Reply to comment]

  Written By Rew
#6 
on May 6th, 2014 @ 8:16 am

* I meant “Far Eastern Asian” influences.

[Reply to comment]

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