I’ve mentioned before our family love of food and I wanted to share a quick post with you about Stig’s signature dish, Quick Paella with Hot Smoked Salmon.
About a year ago, as I pottered in the kitchen one Saturday morning Stig came to tell me about something he’d seen on the television he thought I might be interested in. “I’ve rewound it and paused it”. Thinking it was going to be an advert for some Mega blaster X543 upside down inside out shooting thing that was required for Christmas/birthday, I reluctantly followed him to the lounge. To my surprise he had been watching the programme I had sat and enjoyed a cup of tea in front of half an hour or so before “Saturday Kitchen”. “I think this recipe would make a good family meal” he said and pressed play. Indeed the culinary delight was super family friendly and we tracked down the recipe off the website soon after.
We ate this meal last Saturday when my mum came to stay. Stig was insistent he cook for granny, even after his very tiring week at adventure camp. In fact he didn’t only cook it; Saturday morning he read the recipe, made his own shopping list and then accompanied me to the supermarket for the necessary ingredients. One of the items on his list was chorizo, so we wandered up to the deli counter to take a look. There were two different types. “Which do you think?” I asked. He looked up and pulled the crooked mouth puzzled expression. “Well you don’t want it too spicy do you so why don’t you ask the lady which will be best” cue lady “hello can I help?” eyes on me. I move my eyes to Stig and he swallows hard before almost whispering “which one isn’t too spicy?”, she can’t hear him so looks at me again; my eyes are back to Stig. He speaks up and she hears but it’s now her turn to pull the crooked mouth expression. “Can we try them I suggest”? Done, chorizo sliced and offered over the counter. I watch my little man as he cautiously places a piece in his mouth. First eyes narrow then, as the paprika kicks in, his eyes widen then the mouth widens and a grin appears, head nodding “yep it’s good, that’s the one I want”. I’m grinning to, a shared moment, a passion explored together, teaching your kids the joys of life.
So as sous chef my only job is to slice the chorizo and the rest Stig does, obviously I also supervise with the chopping and any hot things involved. As he moves around the kitchen he still asks for pointers and support but his confidence in his actions is growing. We discuss the difference between paella rice and long grain rice, flat leaf and curly parsley, I remind about positions for fingers when using a knife and talk about making your own chicken stock. Then there is the stirring, seasoning and tasting, he scoops a small spoonful up to my mouth “what do you think?” He thrives off the discussion, is alert and interested, engaged yet calm and proud of himself. The meal is a triumph and seconds and thirds are requested, everyone enjoys the tasty dish and we all thank Stig whole heartedly for his effort.
I often worry about what type of a future my children will have and what kind of relationships and friendships will emerge and be sustained along the way. Their broken beginning suggested that these complex rituals could be tough going. What Stig is developing in his love for food is an interest, a passion even, that he will hopefully carry through life giving him something that in social situations he can offer as a discussion point with confidence and knowledge. I suppose food to us might be another family’s football, dancing, shopping, wrestling, or gardening, any activity or pastime that people find a space in their lives and their hearts for. I’m glad Stig has chosen food as one of his loves, firstly I can rest assured he will never go hungry and secondly, if he can’t charm someone with his charisma and wit, he can always woo them with his food.
Here is the link to the recipe page on the BBC.
We substitute the clams for prawns, not because we don’t like clams but because in the very land locked location we live in I don’t often see clams I would like to eat.