Now, there’s a very simple pasta bake recipe I tend not to use (I think it’s just a nasty lasagne without layers) but Beloved can usually manage. It involves mince (that’d be ground beef for the cruel abusers of the English language out there), chopped tomatoes, a few herbs, an onion, some garlic, some mushrooms. They’re all cooked together and spooned over pasta. Then a sauce made of flour, eggs, milk and cheese is poured on top. The whole thing is sprinkled with cheese and put in the oven to bake.
Yeah, I know – just make a lasagne, it’ll taste nicer and is less ridiculous. But it’s passable when done right and, when Beloved follows the instructions religiously, it’s not awful.
I think the problem started with him not wanting to make a full one (which feeds 8 or something) so he cut the amount of onion, garlic and mince. Sounds sensible but now he is NOT FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS. We are now in the realm of BELOVED IMPROVISATION!
DUM DUM DUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!
Ok, the first problem. Aware he can’t improvise he very very very carefully measures out the right amount of tomatoes for the reduced recipe and puts the remainder in the fridge. Then something distracts him and he puts the tomatoes he measured in the fridge as well. They’re there, right now, chopped tomatoes + tomato puree in the fridge.
Somehow MISSING that he’d completely failed to put tomatoes in he puts his cooked pasta (cooked without seasoning) in the baking dish… but there’s another problem. He only decided to make a smaller version AFTER cooking the pasta and, yes, he put the full measure of pasta in then spooned a micro-meter thin layer of the mince, mushrooms and onion on top. Also unseasoned. He’s in full confused mode now so no herbs have gone anywhere near, he assures me he got them out of the cupboard.
Now the white sauce. Milk, flour, eggs, cheese (seasoning – oh how naive to wish for some seasoning). But no! He has taken out too much, silly Beloved. Measuring he puts the excess back – but, alas, he has confused himself and put all the cheese back without realising. And, rather flustered due to some dropped flour, he screwed up the maths on the flour – he has far far too much flour. Unfortunately the extra flour means the sauce isn’t thin from lack of cheese so Beloved doesn’t notice (hah, like he would have – but he assures me this is the reason). This (unseasoned) wallpaper paste is poured onto the bake. Into the oven it goes.
When it came out, without a nice, crispy cheese topping, I knew I was in trouble.
It was claggy. It was heavy. It had a truly revolting texture, a mix between porridge and cement. It tasted bland. It tasted like pasta floating in soggy flour. It tasted of boredom. It tasted of sadness, of hopelessness, of the death of joy. It may be the worst thing he has ever cooked.
Also, Beloved objects mightily to his food being called “the death of joy”. And he wasn’t very pleased with “it tastes of sadness.” He declared there is nothing wrong with his creation and he is stubbornly eating it – yes, he is eating it AT me to prove how unreasonable I am.