Conspiracies, Controversies And Catering Calamities

Probing questions – we love them!  Melanie, creator of sparksfromacombustiblemind is hosting “SHARE-YOUR-WORLD” and has provided this week’s questions so that we can share a bit of our world with other bloggers.  Have a look at her post below to see the original questions and see how to get involved yourself:

This Week’s Questions

What’s the biggest screw up in the kitchen that you were responsible for?

Not many myself in all honesty.  I faithfully follow recipes so normally things turn out quite well for me. My own biggest mistake I confessed in a post I published a while ago.

But my friends and flatmates have been involved in some memorable mistakes.

paprika chickenDid I ever tell you about the day my friends on the catering team went out and bought ingredients needed for feeding four hundred volunteers working on a project?  That day they were going to make Paprika Chicken and a vegetarian option for around thirty of us who were vegetarians.

Well, they bought the spices in bulk from a wholesaler. Only someone made a mistake somewhere along the line (I don’t think we will ever know exactly who) and the tub that had been labelled “PAPRIKA” turned out to be chilli powder.  The discovery that all of the chicken had been smothered with chilli powder was made so late in the course of the meal preparation, that they had to concoct a desperate plan to rescue lunch.

Orange juice in pitcher. Isolated on white backgroundThe solution?  Enormous quantities of orange juice. Apparently, that was the way to tone down the chilli powder.  So lunch became Orange and Chilli Chicken, which, I could see from the faces of everyone sitting around me tucking into it, was a quite strange concept to most of the Welsh volunteers on that project.

There was an evening when Ella had been mixing her batter for a cake.  She opened the oven door and somehow managed to throw the contents of the cake tin all over the oven, stove, worktop, it started dripping down over the cupboards and drawers below.  I helped her clear it up and Ella would not allow any of the make occupants of our flat into he kitchen until all evidence of the mishap had vanished. Ella and I were laughing the whole time we were cleaning up.

Another time I was part of a catering team on a project in Bristol.  They had a very well-equipped kitchen with brand new everything, including brand new knives. Every single one of us cut ourselves within the first half-hour.  There were so many blue plasters on our hands and digits that day.

The more I think about, it the more stories are popping into my head.  I have worked on a lot of catering teams and I can remember some hilarious mistakes being made.  I will have to include them in other posts.

What, in your opinion, makes people believe absurd conspiracy theories?

Some years ago, I used to regularly deal with a patient who was trying to recover from a serious addiction to the misuse of drugs. I was always friendly and supportive towards him.  He had a very strong belief in conspiracies.  In fact I remember him telling me that “it is all a conspiracy, we are all being tricked, it’s like the Matrix”. (Well, I have never seen that film, but I get the idea.)

Sometimes, he would be more specific.  He claimed man had never walked on the moon, that it was all a hoax.  He claimed man has never been in “outer space” at all.  He insisted the earth is flat and not a sphere or globe. He said that aliens are ruling the planet and stripping the planet of all it’s resources. He also claimed brain surgery is a hoax.  He does not believe it possible that people can actually have their brains operated on.

One day he was speaking to me very intensely and seriously about “the big conspiracy” we are all being duped by.  He referred to the beast, the wild beast and he said it’s all happening just as the prophets said. Then he told me what had helped him to to recognise “the big conspiracy” was how little things are changing all around us all the time.  The changes are so imperceptible that most people will not notice.  He said that the spelling of Febreze had changed.  He said it should be Febreeze, but they had dropped a letter hoping nobody would notice.  He also said that there have been mysterious changes to KitKats, and it is all part of “the big conspiracy”.

Now, I was not going to take issue with any of the things he said. I asked him what he thinks the future holds.  He said the end of the planet, which the aliens will cause once they have stripped the planet of all valuable resources. I was distressed by his state of mind and in a way how vulnerable he was. But I could tell he liked me and he was trying to enlighten me by sharing all his ideas with me. All I could do was offer him encouragement to continue attending his appointments and make healthy habits a part of his life.

With regards to beliefs.  I think some approach information in a very cautious manner, with a streak of scepticism.  I think it is right to test out information and ask who is saying this? What is their motive? What evidence do they have to support their claim? Is that evidence authentic and trustworthy? I think there are some clever people who can come over as very convincing and genuine, but often they are very misguided or have their own questionable or even sinister motives. However, that doesn’t mean you should suspect everyone is out to con you. You have to be able to trust to be able to function. Don’t be paranoid about everyone or everything.

Some people accept information more readily because it is what they want to believe. They might overlook shaky evidence as they are happy with the conclusion and disregard any holes in the evidence.

I do think a lot of us are far more easily influenced than we may ever imagine we are. The power of advertising and the media is phenomenal. Many are so eager to obtain a body shape or a fitness level, they try every new diet, every new vitamin, every new exercise regime.  I think for the most part, living a balanced way of life and avoiding extremes or harmful habits works well. But if people want to go along with the latest information on diets and health regimes, I guess that is not necessarily harmful, so long as they don’t go to extremes that would damage their health in the long run.

Some of the mis-information out there is not too harmful in itself.  But I do think there is false information, whether it be conspiracies or propaganda that is very harmful.

In 40 years what will people be nostalgic for?

Hmm.  Well…I am not sure.

When I was a lass, we were allowed to play outside for hours with our friends.  We would roam across quite a wide area. There was a huge county park not far from where we lived.  A group of us children would wander over there and climb trees or play “hide and seek”. We would ride our bikes for miles. If I was a parent nowadays, I would not feel happy at all to allow a child that freedom. Especially not after becoming the victim of  serious crime myself.

I can only imagine that while some humans continue to feed their own minds on harmful material, we are only going to have to be more aware of our personal safety, not less. So in 40 years time, will people look back and wish that we lived in a more innocent era, when you did not have to think so much about who might be out there waiting for an opportunity to carry out some heinous act?

Is a hot dog a sandwich?  

Ooooh – I am too scared to be overly forthright about this. Isn’t it a bit pedantic to start defining and departmentalising what we have for lunch?

Is a pitta bread stuffed with falafel and salad a sandwich?

What about a tortilla wrap stuffed with veggies and salad? Is that a sandwich?

I know not, nor do I care.  I prefer them to a cheese and pickle in between two square slices of bread sandwich.  But, I guess in my mind they are more sandwich alternatives than sandwiches.  I have not had a hot-dog in thirty years, but I guess I would include that as a sandwich alternative.  Something that might have similarities (bread…filling etc) but is rather more than we would expect if we were told it is sandwiches for lunch today.

And finally:

What wonderful thing happened to you this week that you’d like to share?  It can be a gratitude moment or something that just made you feel very happy at the time or made you laugh.

There was one day this past week which was very hectic. I slept through my alarm and so did not have time for breakfast before I left the little nest. I went to an appointment, and although I arrived on time, they were running late, I had to rush to be at work on time and didn’t have time to pick up some lunch.  Normally I am more organized but I had only arrived home the night before after midnight, so I had not prepared anything in advance.

Around 3.30pm hunger started to kick in.  I was finishing my shift that night at 8pm.  I was convinced I needed food but I was on my own at work.  There is nowhere nearby where I could run in and grab a sandwich, but there are restaurants that I thought would do take-away like “Wagamamas”.  So I called Wagamamas and ordered a vegan option and I mentioned to the lady on the phone, that I would have to run over and grab it quickly as I was on my own at work. Well, fifteen minutes later, I was getting ready to do exactly that when she appeared with my food.  She told me she thought it might help me. Oh it did, it really did!  She was so kind and thoughtful to do that.  Thank you lovely Wagamamas lady – whoever you are.  You made my day.  And the food was delicious!

It Gets Very Hot In The Kitchen

I had promised to bake some cinnamon wheels.  A young man who we had been working with was leaving London as his father was ill.  We were having a farewell breakfast first thing Monday morning before his drive home.  I had asked him what he wanted me to bring along.  He said he loved Danish pastries. I suggested cinnamon wheels.  He was delighted with the idea.

Only I felt trapped.  I knew I had hurt Jack.  I could only imagine how he would be feeling.  It felt so awkward.  Jack was in his room broody and sulky, I guessed.  I was in my room paralysed by the horror of what I had done in asking for my thank you card back.  But I had promised to make the cinnamon wheels.  I had to get into our kitchen.

Eventually, I plucked up the courage to tip-toe into the kitchen.  I closed the door silently and tried to extract from the cupboards everything I would need and I set about my task of making cinnamon wheels as quietly as I could, which is not easy when you are shaking with emotion.

I had just rolled my puff pastry stuffed with the cinnamon and raisin filling up and was about to cut it into slices when the door of the kitchen flew open.  I will never forget Jack’s dramatic entrance.

Jack was furious!  I had never seen him angry.  His hair seemed to stand on end and his eyes were bulging like some eccentric scientist.  I had never heard him yell like that – a ferocious roar of a yell.  I felt awful because I had done this to him.  I can’t even remember his first few words, just the fury in which he delivered them.  I am not sure which calmed Jack down first.  Was it seeing my tearful breakdown in response to his outburst?  Or was it when he saw the massive carving knife in my hand that I was wielding on the pastry?  We will never know!

But Jack did calm down.  He started to plead with me. He said I was being completely unfair and what I had done was out of order.  I just nodded and wept, “I know Jack”. He saw I was not trying to argue. I acknowledged I had been unfair, but I was so hurt by everything I had heard that week.

I cannot remember every word of that conversation so I am only going to be able to share with you what I can recall I am afraid, but it will give you an idea of the state of the relationship between Jack and I when we last tried to have an honest talk with each other.  I have been over and over this conversation in my mind many times.  It haunts me still.

When I could finally string together an emotional sentence that Jack could comprehend, it was about how hard it is when there are so many awful rumours and degrading remarks being made about the two of us.  I told him it was unbearable.  I told him that since we had spoken the week before the rumours and gossip were worse than ever before.

He was frustrated with me.  He told me I should not listen to gossip.  He reminded me that we had already talked about the pressure rumours had made us both feel, and that we had agreed to put them aside and just enjoy our friendship.

I shook my head and told him I was not overreacting to people who just wanted to tease me in a friendly way.  Then I gave him a few examples of what I had heard that week. I was too embarrassed to tell him what I had heard people say about what had happened between he and I, but I told him I had been called a slapper, a tramp, a cheap slut, a cheat, (and other names I would prefer not to repeat) even in comments from other people on his own Instagram account. I told him I was sick of being the subject of such horrible remarks. His face looked very stern as he was listening.

He said he was so sorry that I had heard those awful things.  He asked me who I had heard these things from.  I didn’t answer directly, I said I had heard them from friends and seen things on phones with my own eyes.  Jack took my hand into his soft velvet paws.

With real earnestness in his eyes, Jack softly said: “Mel…..

(Now…because of the ridiculous length of the post I had typed out, I have decided to split the exchange between Jack and I into two separate posts. So, if you are wondering what happened next, look out for what Jack next said to me tomorrow!)


This is part of what I am calling:


Would You Like A Cup Of Tea?

What Happened After That Cup Of Tea?

What Did Suzie Have To Say About It?

What Did Marta Have To Say About It?

What Did Ella Have To Say About It?

What Did His Friends Have To Say About It?

Something Was Brewing… And It Certainly Was Not Another Cup Of Tea!

Would There Be Another Cup Of Tea?

It Gets Very Hot In The Kitchen

What Did Jack Have To Say About It?

Nobody Else Really Understood


FOWC with Fandango — Tease

Kid In The Kitchen

Sarah the creator of the blogging site Sarah Elizabeth Moore has a writing challenge called “The August Write Away”.  I have been struggling to keep up with word and picture prompts this week because last week was crazy busy and it is looking like after today, the week ahead is going to be horribly busy too.

But I am really loving Sarah’s writing prompts, and am sorry I am just completely out of sync with the day they were for.  But I could not resist this one:


I have a very very vivid memory of the kitchen from my childhood.

My Mumma used to like doing some baking for the family.  I don’t remember what she actually baked being my own personal favourites, but I still loved working along with her.  She loved making date and walnut cake, which was a bit too heavy for me to enjoy as a child.  She also made madiera cake, fruit cake and sandwich cakes.

I loved helping my Mum.  I was fascinated by her baking and I was keen to learn.  But at times, I may have been more of a hindrance than a help.

My most vivid memory….one that has frequently come back to me over the years is the time I dropped a bag of sugar onto the tiled floor.  The bag split on impact and sugar spread all over the floor.

Can you imagine my tears?

I cried and cried.  I ran out of the kitchen, through the living room, up the stairs and into my bedroom.  I jumped on my bed and I sobbed and sobbed.

My Mumma – well…I remember she came to me after a few minutes and asked me why I was crying.  I can’t remember my exact words, but I remember that I wanted to help her so much and now I seemed to have ruined things.  I kept on telling her I was sorry, I did not drop the sugar deliberately, it was an accident. I was so upset.

Mumma said if I really wanted to help then I should return to the kitchen with her.  I followed her downstairs feeling rather sullen.  Once we were in the kitchen, Mum told me that accidents happen, sometimes things go wrong because of something we have done, but the important thing is how we deal with them.  She said that crying is not really going to help.  But what would help her, was if together we tidied up the mess.

I instantly threw myself into sweeping up the sugar with the dustpan and brush. Mumma then grabbed the hoover to pick up remaining parts of sugar and then she allowed me to use the mop (I was a bit too short to be very adept with the mop, but I was determined to help Mumma).

Mum thanked me and gave me a huge hug and then suggested we walk down to the local shop to buy some more sugar so we could finish the baking.  When we reached there, she bought me my favourite little bag of white chocolate mice.

I am sure you can see why many times over the years, my memory of how mum dealt with that situation has come back into my mind.  Sometimes we make mistakes, most of them are complete accidents, unintentional.  The important thing is how we deal with them.  We might feel like having a cry…but the most important thing is that we do everything we can to try to tidy up the mess we have made and start over again.

I marvel at the ingenuity both of my parents displayed many times. They remembered to turn many incidents into lessons that would reach our heart and help us for the rest of our lives.

Mum made sure I always knew she was happy to have me by her side trying to help her, and made sure I never felt like a hindrance.  She was incredibly patient.  We enjoyed many more baking sessions together over the years.

FOWC with Fandango — Ingenuity

Day 19 – 2018 AWAC