I have a dark secret. I lock myself in a darkened room. I make sure there is nobody around to catch me. Then I do it – I watch TV cooking competitions. Yes, I have even seen a couple of episodes of The Great British Bake Off, where Mary Berry with the help of a comedian (and the girl in the heavy specs), separate the competent from the inept. I’ve sat aghast at some of the efforts on Irish Masterchef. I’ve suffered foul-mouthed tirades of Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen from the safety of my couch. Greg Wallace and John Torode regularly put in an appearance, criticising the pathetic efforts of people who obviously can’t cook and should not be asked to try. Why do I do this?
I was going to title this piece “Curse you Canada and the moose you rode into town on”. But, that would be churlish of me. No, why should I damn an entire country because of my distress? I just have to accept that youngest daughter has flown the parental nest and is making one for herself in a maple tree.
We westerners have an ongoing love affair with Chinese food. Dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork, Beef and Broccoli and Kung Pao Chicken have become firm favourites across the western world. The difficulty with this popularity is that the dishes tend to become westernised. The process of westernisation invariably takes the edge off the dish. Over time and repeated modification, to suit a jaded and flaccid western palate, it becomes a pale imitation of the original. Happily, we have not got around to ruining the delicious Sichuan dish called Ants Climbing a Tree. This is probably because we are put off by the name and have never taken it far enough to mess it up with bad cooking, fructose and preservatives.
I don’t often do this. But, I’m not recommending that you cook this recipe. Don’t misconstrue me. It’s not a bad recipe. It’s a pretty tasty way to prepare pork. But, having sourced some prunes (I’m not at the stage of life where prunes are part of my regular diet) and after laying my hands on a slab of free range pork belly, I can’t really recommend it. But, where did it all go wrong?