Posted on June 14, 2007 - by MG
Well it’s all downhill for me, intellectually speaking. I’m experiencing a strange symptom of what is probably an early-onset form of dementia. It’s this: I’ve completely lost the ability to guesstimate how much pasta to cook to feed a family of four.
I used to be an overestimater, if anything. I figured that extra was always good, because you could always make tomorrow’s lunch. But now through no intentional action of mine, I’m an underestimator. When I cook pasta – which is something I cook at least three times a week – even though they all howl with disappointment. Not just that it’s pasta (boo!) but that there’s not enough. They’re always still hungry.
It reminded me of when I was growing up. We were never, ever given meals that left us feeling satisfied. My stepfather had grown up during the post-war rationing period and believed in small portions. (It was different in Mexico, obviously, where you could eat until you popped and proud relatives would stand by going ‘Look how well she eats!’)
But I was stick-thin until I was about 20, so this not-eating-enough thing clearly has something going for it. I’m sticking to the underestimating and telling my family to be glad of going to bed hungry. I try to fool them by heaping salad on top so they don’t notice the pitiful serving of pasta underneath. When they complain, I growl, “S’more than I used to get, so think on!”
They don’t listen though, these kids. They head for the cupboard and eat big spoonfuls of peanut butter.
P.S. No-one suggest using a balance, please. Weighing ingredients is for cissies who can’t cook in anything but a properly-equipped kitchen. That’s not the way I was taught Domestic Science by Mrs Blackwell. It’s acceptable to weigh amounts for confectionary and high-end baking – say French pastries – but nothing else.
The principle can transfer to some aspects of laboratory work. I speak as one who even learned to make tissue culture medium and bacterial growth broths by flicking out The Right Amount, who added DNA and restriction enzymes in amounts we referred to in the lab as A Smidgeon, A Wodge and A S***load. (a s***load was 10 microlitres, just to give you the scale)