x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Married Life: Tales of a dedicated kitchen aid

I needed help preparing for a potluck dinner: this was my husband's chance to shine.

Mr T says I must allow him to be of more help in the kitchen. According to him, it is not a pleasant environment in there when I'm ordering him around.

We came to a compromise: I was stuck at work and unable to prepare four Arabic mezze dishes that we were tasked with bringing to a potluck dinner. I planned to make tabbouleh, baba ganoush (roasted aubergine salad with pomegranate syrup), hummus and batata harra with kuzbara (spicy coriander potatoes).

I had less than an hour to get them all together after work before we had to head off to our dinner, so Mr T decided to step in. This would be his moment to shine.

"Just give me a grocery list and a task list of what I have to do to prepare; everything will be ready when you get home from work," he assured me.

I tried to be as precise as possible with my grocery list:

• Two large eggplants; key word: LARGE!

• One small plastic carton of pomegranates - the ones that are already seeded. "They are tiny little red things," I said. "You like them on frozen yogurt."

• Lemons! Let's say around six. Do NOT call me to ask me how many lemons - I mean it.

• One small lettuce thing. NOT a bag of lettuce, NOT iceberg lettuce, just the original lettuce that we never buy because I told you I hate washing it.

That part went fairly well; he had no inquiries and he stuck to the list.

Then, less than two hours before I was due home to assemble the dishes, he texted me to say he was washing his car and then stopping off to visit with his family. I did some fast calculations. That would give him less than 10 minutes to do things that would usually take me an hour, and would probably take him two. Roasting the eggplants alone, then letting them cool to scoop out the insides, would take more than an hour.

I tried not to sound too flabbergasted on the phone when I explained to him that he needed to get home a little sooner than he'd planned.

"Hey, I'm not backing out, I mean it, I'm gonna do it all," he promised.

And he did try. He really did try - as evidenced by the sight that greeted me when I walked into our kitchen that afternoon. He had chopped up most of the vegetables, squeezed the lemons, minced the garlic, done an all around excellent job. The eggplants, however? They were a sorry, raw sight, barely cooked through. According to Mr T, it wasn't his fault. My directions were "not clear enough" as well as being "too complicated" and "a little scary". So he gave up halfway through, and tried a different route - one he calls "the next best thing".

He got a Lebanese restaurant to deliver two of the four dishes - tabbouleh and hummus - and then he plated them in two of my favourite platters and greeted me with a "ta da!" Never mind that I had already made the tabbouleh the day before; it was chilling in the fridge.

"That's OK, now you have so much tabbouleh, you can just forget about those other two dishes," he said to me.

He could not understand why in the world I was not impressed by his so-called "genius" solution, or why I chose to rage and rant instead of thanking him profusely. Needless to say, we showed up sans baba ganoush to the dinner and with enough tabbouleh to feed a hungry football team.

hkhalaf@thenational.ae