Every parent's nightmare - food brought home from cookery lessons | Alun Newman

There is one food group that can kill you, yet millions of parents eat it and say, ‘delicious’ with huge smiles on their faces.

Monday, 3rd February 2020, 1:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 9:46 am
Yum. The questionable delights of school-cooked food brought home for the family to 'enjoy'.

It’s a food that has changed very little in style and the only feedback you can ever give the cook is minor, ‘maybe a little bit more salt next time’. This food is the one that’s brought back from home economics (food tech).

Over the years, as your children get older, if they choose to study Food Tech, what's brought back in the recycled Celebrations’ tub or Quality Street tins varies.

It starts at basic breads, through to biscuits and towards the dizzying heights of quiche Lorraine.

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Slowly it makes its way to more complex challenging dishes that require the utmost parental nerve.

Recently, my daughter has brought home macaroni cheese that had welded itself to the bottom of the tub it was tipped into. We served it in slices, something I’d never experienced before.

There were claims that she thought the pasta had been over-cooked, or was it that while it was cooking they had to watch a demonstration on how to safely grate cheese (goggles, protective gloves, EpiPen, safety certificate, adult supervisor).

There are few moments less appetising than when my wife recently informed the family that tomorrow we would be having the chicken Kiev my daughter was going to be making at school.

‘Ummm,’ I said, as I began my internal prayers of protection. Sadly my wife couldn't partake because of new year dietary promises, but the rest of us would be carrying out the sentence.

I’m not sure whether it’s even possible to enjoy school-cooked food. It’s the journey it goes through and the story that comes with it.

So the next day we dispatched my daughter with two raw chicken breasts and the accompanying ingredients.

When she got to school, she casually told us, she was running late so didn’t get the ingredients into the fridge until after double maths.

When they arrived at food tech, everyone made a beeline for the two ovens that ‘work the best’. The other ovens seem to have complex temperature issues.

It’s alleged that during scone-making in Year 7, some students still had raw dough after an hour-and-a-half on 180C fan.

During the lesson, a portion of one chicken breast was donated to a friend who had forgotten their ingredients.

The lesson was momentarily stopped as two boys had inserted Blu Tack into their chicken, rather than the approved garlic butter. For those students who forgot their breadcrumbs (for the chicken to be rolled in) they were still advised to roll the chicken in the egg. Those families won't be licking lips tonight!

Once the lesson is finished, you are permitted to leave everything in the fridge until ‘home time’. However, because of after-school football club our meal was left at the side of the all-weather pitch because the home technology department locks its doors after the final bell.

I found our meal on the kitchen table when I got back from work and I placed it in the fridge.

Served with crispy potato wedges, broccoli and microwaved for four-and-a-half days so the internal temperature was hotter than the sun and more importantly signalling death to all known bacteria, we tucked in.

‘What do you think?’ asked my daughter with a smile. ‘So delicious’ I replied.

Pride cometh before ageist fall

Exercising at a gym is better than on your own at home. The reason being, at home there’s no competition. Lou and I signed up for a gym membership and we’ve taken on a spinning (static cycling) class.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of spinning until now. Our session was fully booked with Lycra-clad twentysomethings all in the mood to sweat.

Our instructor put on her lip-mic, turned up the dance music and off we statically went. I was advised to take it easy but I was out of the traps like a dog chasing a deer.

I’m reasonably fit but within six minutes my heart moved location to my throat and I’ve cranked resistance down to next-to-nothing.

When you exercise on your own it's easy to give up. When surrounded by people who are younger and fitter, giving up is defeat.

Forty-five minutes of dipping, off-seat pedalling, leaning, stretching and nearly dying, I burnt off enough to eat a Chunky KitKat with no guilt. I kept going and showed those youngsters how it was done.

I thanked our instructor and felt pleased with myself. However, the feeling was quickly nipped in the bud when it turned out our instructor is 61 and this was her third class. I assumed she was an android.