Firstly, before launching in, I feel like I need to explain the word 'tea'. This is confusing to British people, never mind those reading from abroad (yes, that's you, my one Venezuelan reader), I'm from a large city in England called Birmingham. It's the second largest in the country, in fact - and if someone from Manchester says different, don't believe them.
With Brummies (those who come from Birmingham), the meal you have in the middle of the day is lunch. And the meal you have towards the end of the day is tea. If you go out for an evening meal, that's dinner. You can't have tea in a restaurant. Well, you can, but you'd be drinking it.
Anyhoo, this is about competitive tea-cooking between me and my ex. I do my utmost to cook my kids a decent meal for tea. Even after the shittiest day at work, you can find me slicing,chopping, frying, baking, peeling. Not necessarily in that order.
I want to cook better meals for my kids than my husband. I want them to be healthier AND tastier. I want to reign supreme in the kitchen.
It backfired a bit today when one of my kids specifically requested a barbecue. As you know, barbecues are high fuss, high risk affairs. Get too close and your clothes/hair/appendages get singed. Leave a burger on for half a minute too long and it solidifies into a lump of charred charriness. Touch it by accident and all the fun has been pulled from that day as well as the next, because your finger will blister up and stop you from typing, throwing a ball and opening tins.
I digress. Today, none of this danger stuff actually happened. What did happen was that my other son, the one who had not requested the burnt charcoal meal, said those heart-tearing words: "Dad's meals are nicer than yours."
I found my whole sense of Motherhood was being pulled into question. My ex husband, better at cooking? The man who didn't touch a saucepan over the last ten years? The man who doesn't eat greens? The man who... etc.
"Yes. He cooked us duck noodle salad the other day. He gets us to rate his meals and makes a note of the favourites so we can cook them again."
I am panicking. I need to get all my recipe books out and make lists of meals. I need to do a chef's course. I need to bake bread. I need to...just...be better at it. Somehow.
I will succeed in The Great British Tea off. Whether it be by cooking my own Heston Blumenthal style duck noodle salad (with fruit pastilles, perhaps), or by making chocolatey cheesy alphabetti spaghetti, my kids WILL say that I'm the best tea maker.
Even if I have to pay them a fiver each to do so.