A question for men: why do you leave us on tenterhooks?
It is a sad, confused, lonely little Piggy whose trotters pummel the keyboard this morning. After the high excitement of last Saturday afternoon's tryst with Kennedy-lookalike Benji, I arrived at the School of the Environment and Something-Or-Other on Monday to be informed that he is spending this week at an environmental conference in Munich, Germany. One can't help but wonder why he didn't mention this conference on Saturday. It's not as though I expect to be carried everywhere he goes like a pocket rat, but it would be nice to be kept in the loop.
Eliciting information about Benji's whereabouts from the front desk staff was jolly embarrassing too. It's the second time (the first being the afternoon he went to the Tory party fundraising luncheon) that my face has fallen like a bloody Zeppelin in front of them upon hearing of Benji's absence. I looked like a fool. I am a fool. I should have known when he failed to call me on Sunday that something was awry.
All I can say is that he'd better have a good excuse or we're over. I need an after-date phone call from a man for reassurance. Silence makes me nervous. Imagine if I'd slept with him! What kind of state would I be in now?
The worst thing about Benji's absence is that Mum, having apparently witnessed The Kiss, keeps asking me how it's going with him. I feel like saying, 'Why don't you ask (Benji's mother) Sally?' She probably knows more than me.
The best thing about his absence is that I'm becoming firm friends with Petronella, who's the nicest of my three bosses. She's an absolute delight and we've had a grand time ganging up on Sleazy Patrick. I've got a spectacular crush on her, but I must be careful. The last time I felt so enthusiastic about another woman (Poloma), she took off with my boyfriend. I must confess that I can't understand why Benji and Petronella aren't interested in each other romantically, given that they're both so attractive and have so much in common. Maybe there's just no chemistry.
Anyway, apart from food, Petronella is the only source of cheer for me at the moment. Most of the time I waver between pathetic wallowing and self-righteous arm-folding. Woe is Piggy.
It's just as well I cooked a huge batch of traditional Bolognese on Sunday. Rufus and Hettie came over for Sunday dinner and the cooking, as usual, was left in my capable hands. Initially Rufus grumbled when he discovered I was serving rigatoni rather than a roast, but he was forced to backpedal after putting away his third helping.
'This is a triumph, Piggy!' he exclaimed, as bits of mince flew from his beard. 'We must get the recipe.'
Well, I had to agree that it was good, unlike the dinnertime conversation. God, Rufus was obnoxious (sorry, Mum, but he really was). He was carrying on about how my parents' landlord, Sir Geoffrey, is newly single and desperate to settle down and have children.
'You should go up to the manor house, Pig,' he said, literally pointing his sausage finger at my chest. 'Just knock at the door and introduce yourself. Take up some of this sauce if you must.'
A few years ago, when the Maharaja of Jodhpur was in a coma following a polo accident, Uncle Rufus suggested that I travel to Mumbai and wait at his bedside. That way, when he woke up, I'd be the first person he'd see and he'd fall in love with me. This is the level at which Rufus pitches his romantic advice. Good morning, Maharaja! Would you like some dahl?
Then he started rattling on about how Benji is probably gay because he drives an Audi. The nerve of the man! I almost left the table in a huff.
Thankfully, there was still a lot of Bolognese sauce left over, even after Rufus had completely stuffed himself. I've been eating it for dinner every night on toast, and bloody nice it is too. It's one of those sauces that gets better as it ages in its own juices in the fridge (up to a point, of course).
I am more than happy to share the recipe for my traditional bolognese sauce with you, dear readers. This is the best there is. I know the pancetta, pork mince, celery etc. might put some people off, but please bear with me. The flavours mingle, no particular taste bulges, and the end product is hearty and tasty beyond your wildest dreams.
You will need:
- 250g of veal mince and 250g of pork mince
- 6 slices of pancetta, chopped roughly
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 2 carrots, finely grated
- 2 stalks of celery, finely chopped
- A few dried bay leaves
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- salt and pepper to season the mince
And this is what you need to do:
- Sweat/soften garlic and onion in olive oil over low heat for a few minutes, then turn up the heat to medium and add the mince. Season with a pinch each of salt and black pepper.
- Add the pancetta, carrots and celery and stir in. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently,
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock and bay leaves and then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- A few minutes before you intend to serve it, add the white wine vinegar, which gives this wonderful meat sauce such a kick.
- Serve with a substantial pasta, like rigatoni, cooked in salted water. I live to eat mine with a knob of butter and a handful of freshly grated parmesan/reggiano.
Authentic Bolognese sauce isn't really a tomato sauce; it's a meat sauce. It should be orange rather than red. I know some people add a cup of milk instead of chicken stock, but I've tried this and believe me, it's better without the milk. Make a big batch and you'll be eating it for days. The above recipe will feed 6 hungry people, but you can easily double the quantities if you need it to go further.
This sauce has sustained me over the last few days of zero communication from Benji. Why doesn't he call? Why? Why do men always disappear when you most need their reassurance? Perhaps a man can answer that question for me...