Tell us about the harshest, most difficult to hear — but accurate — criticism you’e ever gotten. Does it still apply?
Photographers, artists, poets: show us HARSH.
If I was asked perhaps forty years ago I would probably have written a record blog in length, accusing the world of not understanding my talent, being ignorant of my gifts but today, I do not even hear criticism, and am also in the lucky position to be surrounded by comments which are more in the constructive line of things.
Of course there are some people, some places, where criticism is the daily bread. At work it is a pastime, not even a hobby. What would a chief be when he would not criticise? He would be a failure. He is under the impression he has to keep his staff on their toes, grovelling for favours and living in fright that they might do something wrong. Luckily I am gifted with a thick skin, often a duck’s back. You know the one where comments just run down like water. I always felt so sorry for the workmates I knew who seemed to spend their lives apologising and felt they had to justify every action and comment they made, before they were asked.
Somehow a comment remained that a colleague once said in the office. She was new and was learning the routine and was one of the competent workers. My chef was OK, I had no problem with him. If you made him a coffee in the morning and let him read the newspaper in peace, he was a fantastic bloke. He was god’s gift to women (he thought), but I always treasured his way to leave me alone with the work. Now and again he would ask a question, but with my natural talent for avoiding negative situations, I would tell him I am looking into it and that seemed to suffice.
Then one day this fairly new person in the office asked “What does he have for a function?”. I stifled my laugh, but thought about it. She had hit the nail on the head. In future I did not hear the negative criticisms, questions, or even try to think how this human ballast looked when it stood under the shower, those words spoke volumes. I survived him in the office to cut it short. I had an early retirement because I was probably considered eventually as the living dead, and I was costing too much. The company was suffering under the economy.
Does anyone ever dare to criticise my cooking? Sometimes. Who am I to judge if the criticism is warranted or not. I remember the famous words of my mother, when I was a victim of her daily cooking.
“I pity your old man when you get married, he will be living on fish fingers.”
To explain “old man”: it is an endearing cockney term for husband and fish fingers were the revolution in fish cookery. Most children at that time did not know that a fish had fins and swum. They grew up with the impression that they were born into the world shaped as fingers, coated with bread crumbs and fried. I was lucky, before this glorious invention I had seen and eaten real fish.
However, my mother found this a brilliant invention and at least once a week this formed part of my diet. Was it to be doubted that “my old man” would eat this in his marital bliss. Of course now and again I serve this delicious revolutionary meal, but I also branch out into other directions. I do not actually hear criticism from my cooking victims, I just notice when the aromat is added to the food, more salt and perhaps some other saline spice. The mention of it being hospital food I ignore. My taste buds still work perfectly but as you grow older it might be that some people need more salt in their food (notice, no names mentioned).
The dish in the photo (which I photographed as an unforgettable memory) is an own composition. I quite like hot and some time ago discovered a Spanish sausage known as chorizo, nice an spicy flavoured with a good portion of paprika chile I think. So I developed this idea and cooked it in a tomato sauce with spring onions. I found this fitted perfectly with Italian pasta, preferably penne. This is the proof that “my old man” is not just fed with food, but with events, with creations and he has survived. Thus this dish is known as Chrorizo al penne di mama Angloswiss. I think I will cook fish fingers on Friday for lunch with chips as a change.
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