The Latvian men in my life see me as many different things – unintentionally hilarious Irish person, friend, drinking buddy, teacher, last-minute proofreader, shoulder to cry on when their mad Latvian girlfriend does something mad, Plan B girlfriend…
However, the one thing I’m pretty sure none of them have ever seen me as is marriage material. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I actually want to marry a Latvian, it would just be nice to be asked (once or twice) while I’m still young enough to be able to visualise myself walking up an aisle without the aid of a zimmer frame.
I can understand why they don’t see me this way. I’m not maternal. A girl I know posted a picture of a lump of pork on Facebook today with the description, ‘Look out! We’re cooking up trouble!’ Turns out it was a scan of her unborn baby girl.
I’m also not exactly the home-maker type. I don’t own cushions, throws, plants, vases or more than 2 plates. I do have a kitchen – of course I do. Where else would I keep the fridge that keeps the wine? A Latvian guy looked into my fridge once – he was out the door and running back to mammy before I could
lie explain that I just hadn’t done my weekly shop yet.
Anyway, in an attempt to ‘homey up’ my image a bit, I’ve decided to become a domestic goddess. Not permanently, you understand – just to prove that I could be one if I wanted to. I gamely turned to the ‘Latvian National Cuisine’ book that a friend had bought me (as some sort of joke, I think).
I quickly ruled out the main dishes. Not only do I not have any desire to cook a piglet, I also have no idea where to buy one; I do not do anything with liver except pickle my own; and I had to look up ‘aspic’ in a dictionary. I flicked to the ‘Desserts’ section. Even though it’s an English book, I felt like it was in Chinese. How on earth do you ‘remove an island from milk’? How do you ‘carefully fold’ jam? What is a ‘stiff foamy peak’ when it’s at home?
In a domestic-goddess-flop-sweat, I sent a message to my Latvian friend. Explaining that my plan to become the next Nigella Lawson overnight was being thwarted by my inability to make sense of English, she helpfully sent me a recipe IN PICTURES for ‘fast apple pie’. She had me at ‘fast’.
As the only ingredients I had in my kitchen were eggs and salt, I made a list. After another look at the pictures and a look around my kitchen, I quickly added a mixing bowl, a baking tin, a wooden spoon and a whisk/blender. Realising that this was going to be a hypermarket trip instead of a run-of-the-mill jaunt to the corner shop, I added 2 bottles of wine to the list. For my nerves, not the cake.
Three hellish days and nights later (in reality, around 40 minutes), I emerged victorious.
After a little lie-down, I got busy. Bringing the laptop into the kitchen (I was afraid to be too far away from the pictures), I set about making my first ever cake.
Things got off to a bad start when, in my nervous excitement, I prematurely pushed the button on the blender and sprayed sugar all over the kitchen. Not to worry. I’m sure these kinds of things happen to Nigella all the time.
With the flour and stuff poured over the fruit and stuff, and the whole lot bunged in the oven, there was little else to do but sit back with a glass of wine and wait and see what happened. It was then that I discovered what the incredibly comfortable armchair in the kitchen is for. It’s where Latvian women used to sit watching their cakes in morbid fascination, waiting for them to explode.
I knew what it was supposed to look like…
…but I couldn’t bear to watch. I made myself go into the living room, finished off the glass, and then slunk back 20 minutes later to see what had happened. It was at this point that, wherever you are, you may have heard me yelling, ‘Holy shit! It actually looks like a cake!’ And it did:
I also realised that neither of my plates would be big enough for it so it would have to live in the cake tin.
And now for the moment of truth – what did it taste like? It was, amazingly, delicious! Slightly crunchy on top, moist and spongy in the middle, apple-tastic with a little blueberry surprise every now and then.
Sod men and proposals. There’s no way I’d share this anyway.