Rimmer and his mates #ladsontour
I was at a working lunch recently with a woman from another company, and the conversation, as ever, turned to boys. Specifically our boyfriends.
“I like all his friends, except one,” she said, swigging her Viognier. “I just don’t like the way he talks about women. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a feminist or anything….”
At this point my eyes bled into my slow roast pork and my brain melted in a raging fury (not that I did anything but smile sweetly, obv). How can somebody, in 2013, who has had everyone from Caitlin Moran to Jameela Jamil waving the flag for feminism in their faces, not identify with the cause? “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in equal rights or anything.”
We’ve come a long way since feminism was thought of as a bad thing, surely? Back in 1996, when my first piece of published “journalism” appeared in The Times, my disparaging moue against the sisterhood was evident in my prissy last line.
But that was before feminism had been rebranded and, anyway, the Spice Girls weren’t to happen for another three months. We all know better now, surely, and don’t casually toss gender stereotypes and aspersions around?
Except here, in TV-chef-Simon-Rimmer’s new book, Men Love Pies, Girls Like Hummus.
Hashtag moronic book titles dot co dot uk
At first, I thought the title was a joke, an ironic aside in a post feminist world. But then I remembered that white middle class men don’t get to make ironic asides about traditionally oppressed groups and found that the book was peppered with such gems as:
“This chapter is full of recipes to cook for the ladies in your life, even if that’s your mum and your sister or if you’re a girl too.”
It’s presumably the same sort of tired male banter (“manter”?) that forms the backbone of Sunday Brunch where Rimmer has made his name, but I wouldn’t know as I’ve never watched the show – Sunday mornings are for hangovers and looking balefully at all the dirty wine glasses by the sink and repeats of Friends (I love it when Christina Applegate calls Monica “Crazy Plate Lady” in that Thanksgiving episode) (Of course, when you think about it, Friends is sexist too, as all the women just want clothes and a boyfriend and all the men are commitment phobes who only date hot women…oh God, sexism really is everywhere).
But it’s just so….aged. Since when has gender defined our tastes? Chefs such as Skye Gyngell, Anna Hansen, Angela Hartnett and more recently Florence Knight have all held their own in the kitchen for years, so how can some male cooks think casual sexism is even relevant?
Anyway, to see if there was any truth behind Rimmer’s claim in the book’s title, I invited two girls over, who would hopefully love hummus, as it was the first course.
His version of the fabled hummus, pleaser of women everywhere
Mint and Pine Nut Hummus was so easy to make – I’m sure even the tiny mind of a girl could manage it (joke! I was channelling Rimmer, yeah? Lads!) – just a bit of tahini and chickpea and mint blended up in a liquidiser. But oh God it was delicious. And oddly green.
My hummus. Green = healthy, right?
And Rimmer was right. The girls liked it. And so did the gays. If only we’d had real men there to find out if they liked it too.
Judging by the conversation during the starter, this is what else girls like:
Talking about dating
Showing pictures of boys they’re dating
Sheryl Sandberg (srsly. One of them had Lean In in her bag)
And this is what they don’t like:
Boys they meet on Guardian Soulmates who suggest going to secluded woods for first dates
Boys who don’t pay for any drinks when meeting their girlfriend’s family
When boys Facebook profiles have high security settings
Empty wine glasses.
Rimmer would have killed for this sort of study.
And onto the main course, a pie for the men. Shepherd’s Pie with Cauliflower Cheese Top to be precise.
Confusingly, the girls liked it too. I don’t know what to think about gender differences anymore. But then, how could they not? It was, as the name suggests, a shepherd’s pie on the bottom, all rich lamb stew and buttery mash, with rich, hearty cauliflower cheese on top. May my tastebuds ever encounter something this dreamy again.
And my version. It pains me how good it tasted
Judging by the conversation during the main course, men also love:
Asking girls incredulously about the useless men they’re dating
Talking about people they all know and slagging them off (I refuse to believe this is just a gay thing)
And this is what they don’t like:
Not being offered seconds of pie
Being asked when they’re going to marry each other
Empty wine glasses
Seeing as the book title didn’t specify what the different sexes like for dessert I had to guess. His Raspberry Brownie and Caramelized Banana Eton Mess was apparently created for his 14 year old daughter, for when he “needs to win her round” (women, eh?) and seeing as her and I probably have the same music tastes it felt like a good fit.
Rimmer’s Eton Mess
The brownie bit was divine. Chewy and gooey and full of chocolate. The caramel sauce was a slightly bitter foil and everything else was just dressing. But the quantities, oh the quantities. Rimmer had allocated two bananas per person, two meringue nests per person, a ton of brownie. Even tasting this good, there was so much leftover I could have fed a whole army of adolescent girls.
Yes, it looks gross, but that brownie was incredz
Which is more than can be said for the wine – every drop drained, bottles stacked up in the recycling. Perhaps that could be the name of my first cookery book: Girls and Gays Like Wine. As groundbreaking a title as Rimmer’s.
Cost of ingredients: £39.72 (not including items already in store cupboard)
First course * * * * *
Main course * * * * *
Dessert * * * *
Overall: 9/10 for recipes, 0/10 for concept, execution, and general cunt-facery.
Men Love Pies, Girls Like Hummus (Mitchell Beazley, £16.99) is out now. Original photography by Emma Lee