I am beginning to realize that this column is becoming something of a confessional for me. Whenever I behave badly, I find myself writing it down without thinking too much about it. I now think perhaps my column ought to be renamed something along the lines of “Misadventures of a Menopausal Woman.”
This week, I have mostly been behaving well. Apart from one teensy, weensy, minor slip. It is regatta season again, and I was in charge of the food at last week’s regatta. The weather was going to be beautiful, we were expecting a huge crowd, and I planned my menu accordingly.
Some of you may remember that last season, a rowing mother took me aside to complain bitterly that my pancakes tasted of onion. Onion pancakes have now become something of an in-joke at the rowing club, and because I am a menopausal woman and I seem to have lost the ability to let anything go, I decided to add onion pancakes to the menu. This time, intentionally.
I sautéed a bunch of sliced onions with garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, a pinch of cayenne pepper and a little brown sugar. I cooled them, then stirred in ricotta cheese, and added the entire mixture to a pancake mix (1 cup flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, ½ teasoon salt mixed together, add in a beaten egg, 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons melted butter. Stir until combined), with a heavy sprinkling of turmeric to turn them into a golden yellow. I fried them in olive oil, and they were fluffy, and spicy, and sweet, and utterly delicious.
Sadly, the woman who complained about the onion pancakes to begin with, wasn’t there, so I shall just have to make them again.
Onion pancakes aside, I was behaving quite well, and even managed to put up with the mansplaining. This is a very peculiar trope I have noticed in America – all men think they are expert grillmasters, even when they are terrible cooks, and understand nothing about seasoning, or indeed food. Some men I know truly are excellent grillmasters. My usual co-grillmaster who works with me when I do the regattas, is an extraordinarily gifted cook, who has taught me tremendous things about meat.
But there are a few men at this regatta who regularly elbow me out the way to take over the grill. They don’t actually say: “move over, l’il lady,” but I can hear them think it. One of them always lurks and comments on what I’m cooking with things like, “Oh, interesting. I never add salt to anything. I find most people don’t like salt.” I have taken to giving him withering stares in the hopes he will disappear.
This week, the mansplainers were up in arms over my grilled cheese sandwiches. Instead of butter on the outside, I used mayonnaise. Because it’s an emulsion, the oils in the mayonnaise stick to the food, and cause a Maillard reaction, turning the bread a rich golden brown. It works far better than butter, and you cannot taste the mayonnaise, but that was not good enough for the Mansplainers. They shook their heads in horror and muttered to each other about the mayo, as I felt my irritation rise.
I considered giving them a science lesson as every good menopausal woman should do, until I thought better of it. I had had my fun with the onion pancakes. It was time to call it a day.