She lived for some years in Thailand, and by means I don't know or ask extracted the true secrets of Thai cooking from a kitchen maid or two. Thus when we get a delivery from her of a Southeast Asian curry, we know we are in for a treat. She brings along herbal and any other accessories, with strict instructions on what to do with them to accompany the meal.
To disguise her identity I'll call her Jacqui, an abbreviation of her full first name. Normally I would spell 'Jacqui' more casually, as she has never been one for pretence or pretension, but this spelling of mine should do the trick.
|"Rock Cake" [i.e., Johnny Cake]|
Because she stayed for a cup of tea on the delivery run, the RCs became irresistible to us. Well, to me. I demanded one, which extended by the end of our afternoon tea to two. Look, I'm on a minimal dose of steroid, which I can't avoid but which has the unfortunate effect of keeping me in a state of permanent hunger, so don't blame me. Sheer greed has nothing to do with it.
Next morning, I was much alarmed by my observation that only two of the rock cakes remained in the container. That's right. Two.
I did some calculations. There had to have been at least a dozen RCs in the whole batch delivered. There are three people in this household. Therefore, by morning, two suspects had scoffed eight RCs between them.
Now that's sort of OK, given that an even allocation of RCs is four each. I wasn't that concerned about one of the suspects, but admit to a small fragment of doubt even there, on account of what happens to chocolate in this household.
I did harbour more serious suspicions about the third member of the household, who on that day had done hours on an SES callout, apart from serious running and other exercise I won't go into but involve long periods of self-inflicted muscular agony. It also included ninety minutes of what he calls Tactical Defence but what his mother calls Mortal Combat.
What I mean is, he comes home starving, eats the entire contents of the fruit bowl, a bucket-sized container of any cereal quaking fearfully in the pantry, has dinner and stays up late.
There's where my suspicions of possible inequity lay – his late snack urgency after serious computing, including redesigning the inside of a fully functioning Tardis. Oh, you think I'm making that last bit up, don't you? You don't know him. I've seen it, and it's brilliant. In three dimensions, sound and movement, together with long explanations about the fourth dimension and its design effects on the interior of the Tardis.
Anyway, I had no concrete evidence about the RC deficit, I admit, but I've seen what hunger does to him, and hunger in a 20 year old youth has no conscience, nor any concept of mathematics. It turns his stomach into a sort of Tardis. You get the picture.
So all I had to go on was the evidence of two forlorn RCs huddled in a corner of their container. This was serious. I contacted
Fearing that a pre-breakfast raid by the same party might see the demise of the remaining RCs while I was on study duty, I penned this diplomatic note, and placed it strategically in the container.
|Please note proper grammar|
But hang on. Fifteen, Jacqui said. One-five. There was something seriously amiss here.
I contacted the male member (NOTE TO SELF: use other wording for the man of that house) of the Jacqui household to query the numbers and to make sure his wife wasn't off the planet on something else she'd slipped into her own version of the rock cakes.
In return, I got this (slightly skittish, I thought) note from said husband, portions of which I reproduce below.
So that’s where the rock cakes went.
It is my practice on Thursdays, when I am on a course, to not have lunch and I come home quite famished and have a pot of tea and whatever Jac*** has made to accompany it.
Yesterday as the kettle was boiling I started looking around to see what was there. I saw the bowls on the sink so I knew that there had been some culinary endeavour.
Jac*** then appeared and showed me a container with what I can only say was a pitifully small number of rock cakes in it. After I had the statutory two there wasn’t much left.
She was a little coy about what had happened to the others but now I know.
While I am keen to come and see you both I am at least as keen to know if your mate Watto, or more importantly, his good lady wife, has been in to see you in recent times.
If you had any idea how good a cook Watto's wife is too, you would understand the significance of the last sentence. It definitely makes putting up with me worthwhile for him if we offer guests slim portions of this manna from Heaven (or Kentucky, Australia). Anyway, Jacquie's husband's note explains the missing last three rock cakes, which I can't seriously begrudge him.
All good. Apologies for my unfounded suspicions to other members of my ménage. I ate my two rock cakes within hours, just to be sure there could be no further misunderstandings.