My cooking has received two compliments recently which made me pause and ponder: Am I in the wrong job? What would Delia say? Where did it all go wrong?
Firstly, my Fish Pie a la Nigella was greeted by one of the Oldies with enthusiasm. He quickly cleared his plate and announced, ‘Mmmm, fish in a bag, I love it!’ Before he made the decision to come and live here, after his wife died, boil-in-the-bag cod in butter sauce was one of his comfort staples. Otherwise, I might just have thrown it at him (joke).
Secondly, I set out my Gingerbread a la Delia for a meeting of the Board of Management, and the Chairperson rhapsodised (no exaggeration) afterwards: ‘Helen, your gingerbread is sheer perfection!’ Sheer perfection? Was she taking the Mickey? I asked her what she meant, and she said it looked as if it had come straight out of a shop. Let’s hope she meant artisan bakery, as opposed to cut-price corner store.
So there you have it. My personal style in cooking is rustic and healthy-wholesome, with a dash of Mediterranean; but I’ve been having to refine my efforts in line with the preferences of my aged clientele, whose tolerance for fruit and veg and ‘fancy stuff’ is limited. I know, because I have gently pushed those limits, and from time to time come up against a brick wall. Last week, for instance, there was a Meatball Revolt from one tenant. ‘What’s wrong with mince and tatties?’ he pleaded. Bad news for one of us as I’d stood that morning making 42 meat balls in little batches for the freezer. ‘Old people don’t need to be healthy’. Well I had to disagree with him on that one, happy though I am to receive feedback.
So what should I do? Persevere, dumb down,or find a middle way? Anyone with any experience of cooking for older people – I’d love to hear your suggestions.