This morning as I sat in the McDonald’s in St George’s Street, everything was pretty normal.
A messy tray lay uncollected on the table next to me while nearby a couple who sounded bored with each other had a discussion about the time.
And I did what I always do: opened a sachet of salt and poured it on my hash brown. In my mind I could hear the voice of my mother wailing: ” It’s salty enough already. You don’t need to put more salt on it!”
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Oh, but I do, mother dear, I do. For I like putting salt on my food – especially potato.
It was then I recalled the moment I tried to put salt on food my friend had cooked. I’d gone to his house in a village just outside Canterbury to spend the evening watching a film, drinking wine and eating.
As the fish, veg and boiled potatoes came out, I casually asked him where his salt was.
“You don’t need salt,” he snapped testily.
“Eh? But I wouldn’t mind some for these new potatoes.”
“It’s fine the way it is. To put salt on food is an insult to the chef.”
These words were said with some venom. I’d clearly upset “the chef”. My friend is a bit of a foodie, he’s an expert on wine and works in the culinary industry. I, on the other hand, am none of those things – just some portly halfwit from Canterbury.
But I honestly couldn’t believe it. It’s not as if I wanted to douse the fish in ketchup, HP sauce or gravy.
That was it, though: the evening had turned sour. There was an awkward silence as we watched the film. I tried to mend things with a breezy “the fish is really good”.
“Well, you obviously didn’t like it that much,” came the grumpy reply.
The damage was apparently irreparable. He went to bed after the film and left me in the lounge to sleep on the pull-out. I left immediately in the morning, not waiting around for him to get up.
I suppose there’s a lesson here. If your friends fancy themselves in the kitchen, beware of unwittingly insulting them with the smallest of requests. It can ruin an evening – and maybe even a friendship…