7 January 2012

Piggy Chef!!

Cooking the bacon
Culinary obsessions start young! When I was a small kid, about four or five I was fascinated by all things to do with cooking and the kitchen and my parents duly humoured me and played along. One of the first toys I can remember which arrived in the arid Yemen desert via Santa's sleigh and which gave me hours of fun was a simple "Piggy Chef". This was a grinning mechanical pig which stood in front of a small white stove dressed in full chef's regalia complete with red bow tie, apron and tall white hat. In his right hand he held a large frying pan over the cooker and in his left an oil container which sprinkled imaginary oil on the pan.  He was cooking bacon and eggs! The skillet contained a light metal disk which the pig could flip up and catch. One side of the disk was painted with two large eggs supposedly being fried sunny side up and the other was covered in red and cream stripes representing the streaky bacon rashers! I loved it and still  remember it well but it has since occurred to that this was a curious toy on many levels. We were after all in a Muslim society and no doubt it had been bought by my dad from Aden's biggest toy emporium - a Jewish establishment called Yahooda's! Not to mention the cannibalistic connotations of a pig cooking bacon! I have to say that to this day bacon sandwiches are one of the main reasons I could never become vegetarian!

The obsession with the kitchen did not end there. The only time I can remember being severely disciplined by my father was when for some unknown reason I decided to lock myself in the kitchen and play with the cooker. I turned on all the electric hob burners to red hot and put the door key in the fridge which promptly fell to the bottom where I couldn't see it. When my parents realised what I had done they panicked, terrified I would hurt myself on the hot stove. Frantic my mother kept me occupied by talking to me through the kitchen door keyhole and well away from the cooker while my father raced down to the cook's quarters to get his back door key! Luckily I was liberated from the kitchen without any major mishap but boy I was in such trouble!!


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