Put me in a kitchen with a skillet or a saucepan and any number of ingredients and I’m as happy as Larry, assuming Larry is a miserable bastard whose spirits can be elevated slightly by frantic activity with a meal at the end. I can stir, fry and even stir-fry with the best of ’em, and even risk my productions on other people, without expecting more than a token mortality rate.
But I ain’t no baker. Even something that would be scoffed at by the telly contestants in bread week and scoffed happily by the judges, seems to defeat me.
Yes, that’s me putting the kaka into saffranspannkaka med salmbärssylt, the Gotland speciality. Saffron panakes with dewberry jam and cream.
Undersugared, undersaffroned (you know how much that stuff costs?!) and overcooked, I think. A friend had them in Visby earlier this year and raved abbout them. Another friend recently returned from mainland Sweden with jars of the jam.
But as neither your friendly gastro-gnome, nor any mainland Swede he’s spoken to, has ever had the pancakes, he’s not sure if the texture of warm, coagulated rice pudding is correct. If it is, he can only question his cruising friend’s taste.
And then there’s arepas. The delicious Venezuelan breakfast dish now becoming a streetfoot staple over here. I have the right flour, the advice of a Venezuelan amiga, and any number of recipes, most of which agree they should be cooked in ten to twenty minutes.
But whatever I do, however nicely crisped and browned the outside of these patties might be, even after an hour in a hot oven, the inside seems uncooked, like — well, like a warmer version of the soft dough I started with. Using a cast iron skillet as a budan (or griddle), frying and then baking, even pricking and slamming in a microwave. Mush.
At least I have had the real thing, so I know these are not how they’re supposed to be. I guess I should go to Orinoco on Leith Walk and watch what they do. And eat some with their very own reina pepaida filling — avocado, chicken and mayo with some jalapeños (peas optional), which I did make well and appears in the pic.
I think it’s all about the base — arepa dough too dry or maybe too soggy, pannkakakakaka using the wrong rice?
Who knows? It’s back to sausage and mash tomorrow, methinks.
I can do that.