Beards and Bush popularity = inversely proportional
There are so many things that have changed since I started dating back in the 1980s. There are no more boyfriends and girlfriends, you are either “seeing each other” or “fuck buddies”. I want to blame this on the lack of love songs on the radio and the extinction of the very effective ERECTION SECTION slow dance at the end of a night out. People aren’t being reminded enough through verse to be just “holding hands and makin plans”. Other significant and unexpected differences are every guy now expects a fully waxed bush, all off, all the time. There is also a lot of chat about anal sex being just what everyone does now, like recycling. It’s the fingering of this generation apparently.
Could trend forecasters have anticipated this shift? Trends in sex, food and fashion are moving faster than ever, (hey thanks internet!) but how do you keep on top of it all without constantly feeling out of step and embarrassed especially as far as sex and cooking is concerned?
I remember back in the early 90s my colleague Lucy bumped into the office bitch in the supermarket. The girl took one look in her basket and scoffed “button mushrooms? HA! HOW EIGHTIES!” then swanned off. Although we hated her, we respected her as some sort of arbiter of taste due to her posh accent. We weren’t yet proud of our midlands accents and hadn’t learnt that style can’t be bought. Lucy never peeled another button mushroom again.
Some months later at the beauticians the therapist told Lucy that the office bitch GETS HER ARSE WAXED! Well that was it as far as we were concerned, the dynamic shifted, what kind of person gets her arse waxed? And there she is telling me about button mushrooms? The (hairy) cheek of her! We hadn’t been exposed to the internet and porn. In those days there was only a half leg lady wax available and that was only if you were going on holiday.
The mushroom-shaming incident got me thinking about how your repertoire of recipes can so quickly be out of date these days. Are food trends just another scam to keep us all spending and buying more obscure ingredients? So often Nigella or one of those other food bullies will gallantly advise us to just chuck in to the pot some Star Anise, or Sumac like we all have this shit lying around in our cupboards in abundance. Except now it’s called a fucking larder.
I know you, this is what your CUPBOARDS consist of:
- Three jars of out of date dried mixed herbs
- Several half bags of brown sugar that you could build a crazy paving driveway with it’s so rock hard.
- Ouzo/Schnapps cemented to the shelf
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Renegade stock cubes broken free from their packet
- Tin of oxtail soup in case there is a war
- Detox teabags never been touched
- Catering size Yorkshire Teabags
- Tape measure
- Packet of fags for guests
Maybe you will argue how fantastic it is that we are all experiencing new flavours and experimenting all the time. But it’s making me dizzy and insecure when sometimes all you REALLY want to eat is a massive, white, garlic bread baguette at the local Italian. This is another thing that has changed, our eating out habits and our expectations. Eating out now is so common, it isn’t such a special occasion, rather just something you do when you’re hungry.
My friend Teresa and I were reminiscing about going out for dinner in the 80s being such a big deal. To go to your local Carvery or Berni Inn on a Sunday was a real treat. Her mum would wear a peach suit – A SUIT! A BLOUSE! TIGHTS! Who wears TIGHTS? – a low heeled court shoe, and earrings with matching necklace. The perm would be teased with an afro comb and lashings of hairspray in to a perfectly symmetrical devotional “do” to Barbara Streisand.
My dad would have sat in a blood-vessel-bursting hot Radox bath for an hour, doused in Paco Rabanne and then been ironed in to a stiff shirt. Honestly, I remember my mum using the hot iron ON BODY. Us kids were no slouches either, my brother had a red tie on a piece of elastic from his Holy Communion. I had a Fergie bow at the end of my scalp scraping French plait (braid). The plait was so tight you could see my pituitary gland, but necessary. Round our way the neatness of your French plait was a direct correlation to how clean your house was. It was as important a social indicator as having spotless evenly gathered net curtains.
Sadly, nowadays you are lucky if Georgia and Phoebe have the energy to pass a comb through their hair or take off last night’s make up. Scraggy vintage cardigans hang nonchalantly off one shoulder, my mum would have described it as “you look like you’ve just been pulled through a hedge backwards”. No reservations allowed for dinner anymore, you must stand in line with these people for some hand wanked organic coffee and THE BEST Peruvian Mexican Japanese fusion eggs with wild mint rara sauce. AKA eggs on toast for 20 quid served in a brown paper bag. ON THE STREET! I’m not fucking entertaining this shite.
We had a 80s themed Xmas party at work and do you know what everyone wore? Tacky leotards, headbands, blue eyeshadow and glow sticks. I had to explain to the kids at work that they had got it all so wrong. The 80s weren’t tacky they were very sophisticated and stylish. The eye make-up was beautifully combined and blended, it was a time of artistic expression…all over your face. Don’t you miss the glamour and pomp of the 80s? Reflected in everything even the food packaging. Remember the Ferrero Rocher in its tough little gold jacket and arrogant frilly paper skirt? Or the highfalutin After Eight Mint, a single paper envelope for every wafer thin chocolate. That was how you showed your wealth.
My mum knocked out the same dinner party fayre for decades. I don’t need to tell you what it was, yours will be the same. Prawn cocktail, steak, onion rings, mushrooms, chips done in the deep fat fryer, black forest gateau/ Mint Viennetta and in later years tiramisu. Irish coffee to follow which I learnt to make from age 5, stood on a chair with boiling hot water unsupervised with ten drunk adults in the next room? Don’t worry about it. The kids had to pitch in and do the washing up. Back when parents were the boss and you were just their handy little slaves. I tried discussing this with my new French toy boy. He reckons that in France there were no classic staples that were repeated – what not even Coq au Vin? He is disgusted with my ignorance, but I find it hard to believe, the French are sticklers for tradition Non?
I did the maths I have been avoiding and figured that I was dating when he was being born. So since he missed out on all of that I will cook him a 1980s classic – Beef Wellington with a twist (the twist being they are small). Afterwards we are going to have some good old 1980s style making out to Roxy Music and absolutely no anal sex. I might even French braid my hair. Cos I’m his lady and he’s my man (for this week)…
Mini Beef Wellingtons – serves 2
10 g Porcini mushrooms
125g Normal mushrooms, the recipe I used called for open cap mushrooms, I like chestnut mushrooms, but hey use button mushrooms for all I care.
1 pack of puff pastry – aint nobody trying to dick about making pastry these days, for savoury things at least.
100 ml Red wine. You can buy a mini bottle for the recipe or a big bottle and drink the rest of it as you go along, whatever your heart desires
A tbsp of brandy or whiskey or whatever
1/2 white onion
2 fillet steaks about 175g each
Pinch of nutmeg if you have it
First things first get all your ingredients ready…
- Get the steaks out the fridge and packets and let them rest for a bit. Get the pastry out the packet. Don’t try to unroll it yet as it will break
- Put the kettle on
- Put 10 grams of porcini in a cup and pour in boiling water let them soak for 20 min
- Put sunglasses on, chop the onion in half. But here is the trick just cut alongside the top hairy bit, so you are not cutting right through the centre. The centre bit is what makes you cry.
- Chop as small as you can
- Chop mushrooms as small as you can
- Drain porcini mushrooms and squeeze out the excess with your hands, chop these as small as you can, little more difficult as they are slimy little fuckers
- Put a frying pan on the hob set to medium and start to melt the butter
- Once melted chuck in all the ingredients give them a swizz around so it’s all coated.
- Add a bit of salt and pepper, a bit more pepper. Pinch of nutmeg if you have it.
- Turn heat to lowest setting. Leave it for 20 mins. You tube old 80s adverts to get you in the mood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKQIUJOr1GA and paint your nails red. Maybe dust off that suspender belt and stockings, cover yourself in Anais Anais or Poison if you are really going for the cougar vibe like myself. It is 80s night after all.
- Check on it make sure it isn’t burnt. Leave for 35 mins maximum. The mixture should be quite thick and all the juices evaporated.
- Throw in to a dish or Tupperware and stick in the fridge. You can do this the night before, that’s what I do.
- Heat another frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Turn that hob up to maximum and get the oil really hot.
- Put sunglasses and an apron/tea towel on. This shit is going to spark everywhere and I have a scar on my leg from when I cooked a steak naked.
- Gently lay both steaks in the pan and leave them for 30 seconds. Count to 30 slowly like 1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi. Don’t be tempted to push the steaks around the pan just leave them be
- Turn the steaks over and count to 30 again
- Take the pan off the heat and put steaks on to a plate to cool down
- Put an egg in a cup and whisk it with a fork. Break the egg first obviously.
- Take the rolled up pastry and lay it out flat on a surface. Cut it in half so it resembles two squares… sort of.
- Brush the egg over the pastry. If you don’t have a pastry brush use some kitchen roll, if you don’t have kitchen roll I have to admit I have used toilet roll before or a tea towel.
- Leave for a bit cos you have to wait for your steaks to cool down. Maybe now is the time to have a shower if you have got a hot French toy boy coming round for dinner
- Put the oven on to 220 degrees c
- Get the mushroom mix out of the fridge and roughly divide it in to 5, just in the bowl.
- Put one dollop on each of the pastry squares
- Put steak on top of the dollops and season with salt and pepper. Some recipes say to brush the steaks with a little bit of brandy. This makes no difference to the taste as far as I can tell but it will make you feel like a fucking baller being so lavish and therefore adds to the overall 80s vibe. So go for it.
- Put another dollop of the mushroom mixture on top of the steaks
- That leaves you with one dollop which is going to make a sauce with later
- Now pick the corners up of the pastry and fold them over the steak. Just wrap it like a parcel. Don’t make it really tight as it will expand when it’s cooking and burst. Just make it cover the steak. Mush the corners together so you don’t have any gaps. Brush your package on the outside with the egg wash.
- Turn the parcel over so that the messy bits are on the underside and put on a baking tray
- Cook for 25 minutes if you want medium rare steaks or 30 minutes if you want well done
- I normally wait until my toy boy is here before I put the steaks in. You have to be ready to eat as the steaks will keep cooking once you take them out of the oven.
- For the sauce, you can do this whilst the steaks are in the oven. Medium heat put the remaining dollop of mixture and 100 ml of red wine in a pan
- Let the alcohol bubble away so that it evaporates and you are left with a nice juice thickish sauce.
- I have done this with a salad and broccoli, you won’t need any more carbs as it is so filling. I know this is a really shit picture I forgot to take one and just snapped it quickly after he had started eating. OOPS.