Tuesday 3 June 2008


My husband, Furry. He is living proof that a leopard, if willing, CAN change its spots. When I met him.. and I mean on those first few dates when you're kinda checking out a potential mate, he nearly got flicked. Call me shallow, but as a food obsessive, it was really important to me to meet someone who was as "into" food as I was. And guys? If you're reading this, what you are about to learn is a pretty important piece of "secret girl business". All women (and maybe some guys) have a secret list... it's divided into "can do's" "could do's" and "deal breakers". My list looked something like this:

Must be gainfully employed. (deal breaker)
Must have chest hair (can do))
Must have resolved issues with any ex (deal breaker)
Must love to eat and cook (deal breaker)
Must have an interest in gardening (can do)
Must love the water (could do)

I am sure you get the idea. So, on those first few dates, I was marking off the mental check list, determined not to be swayed by the luscious broad shoulders and the kindly manner. Our tastes in music were a "could do". He's into trashy heavy metal and I am a classical girl. He is a total sports nuts, while I'd rather read a book. (can do) His politics and mine were gulfs apart (could do).

And then I asked one of my deal breaker questions. And this is how the conversation went.

pg: So, what sort of foods do you like?
Fur: Umm.. I dunno.. I like Chinese.
pg: What sort of Chinese? Hunan? Szechwan? Cantonese?
Fur: Ummm.. I like lemon chicken and beef in black bean.
pg mentally enters an X on her mental check list
pg: What about Thai? Do you like Thai
Fur: Ummm.. I dunno, never eaten it.
pg: What about Vietnamese food?
Fur: Don't they eat cats?
pg mentally enters a double XX on her mental check list
pg: What about Japanese? Ever eaten Japanese?
Fur: **insert look of incredulous horror on Furry's face**
Raw fish? No freakin' way, I would NEVER eat that shit!!

Well, it's bloody lucky for Furry that I was mesmerized by his broad shoulders and his kindly, almost 1950's manner, because I gave him three weeks. I referred of him, to my girlfriends as my "disposable chew toy"

Fast forward to about a year later. Furry comes home in a dark-assed mood. Why? Because his new job is somewhere where he can't get any decent sushi for lunch. It's okay tho, because there is a Viet bakery selling banh mi, and that will do.

He's a work in progress, my lad!

After the Second Big Heart Attack of 2005, Furry decided to get into cooking. He does a mean turn in "bachelor" food.. wraps, nachos, spag bog, but he decided to get into cooking "the way YOU do"

So far he's mastered, gow gees, lime glazed pork spare ribs, seafood rissoni, banana fritters, rice paper wraps, Nam Jim chicken, san choi bow and much MUCH more.

He even owns about 7 cook books.

And last night, I saw his final stage of evolution from bogan boy, to GREAT cook. Up until now he has been religiously following recipes.. measuring and weighing ingredients, and following the recipe slavishly.

Last night we had:

Korean Marinated Beef Strips
(adapted by Furry, from The Hinkler Kitchen "Wok Perfection" cook book)

500g of lean beef, cut into strips
(he used my newly sharpened cook's knife to do it himself, rather than buy pre-fab strips)
2 spring onions chopped
(He sliced them in his very own V-Slicer)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 1/2cm piece of fresh ginger root finely chopped
2 tablespoons palm sugar
(purchased by Himself at his sown secret Asian Food store)
3 tablespoons light soy
3 tablespoons dark soy
(yes, he now DOES know the difference)
1 tablespoon sesame oil.

Dry fry the sesame seeds till golden, Place in a mortar and pestle with all other marinade ingredients and grind until a thick paste is achieved. Pour over beef strips, add 1/2 the chopped spring onions and marinate in the 'fridge for at least 4 hours.
Cook in a smoking wok, in batches until done.

The recipe says to serve on rice, or with Hokkien noodles, but here's Furry's take on it.

Red Bean Stir Fry
(adapted by Furry, from The Hinkler Kitchen "Wok Perfection" cook book)

185g of fettuccine cooked till al dente and set aside,
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g asparagus cut into 5cm lengths
125g fresh green beans
125g fresh yellow beans
440g can red kidney bean, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
90g pine nuts, toasted.
fresh bean sprouts to garnish.
Heat oil in wok, add onions and garlic and fry till onion is golden. Add all the fresh vegetables and quickly fry off until tender, but still retain some crunch. Add red kidney beans, coriander and fettuccine and heat through (about 3 mins). Scatter with pine nuts, top with Korean Beef Strips and garnish with bean sprouts.

And bugger me backwards with a spoon, if he didn't even take the bloody photos, too!!


stickyfingers said...

I hear you sister! Same deal breaker for me.

Mr Sticky arrived with a collection of food magazines and was an avid watcher of food shows, was as comfortable fine dining as doing fish 'n chips at sunset on the beach - big tick - but was an "I don't drink white wine, it has no flavour" person. Well, he has successfully overcome that to the point of "Moscato or Riesling with dinner tonight?"

A round of applause to Furry for his culinary mastery!

Cindy said...

PG, this is the most joyous and memorable blog post I've read in weeks. Cheers to you and Furry! (Psst - he owns more cookbooks than Thanh!)

Michael and I had markedly different palates when we first met. Not a deal breaker at the age of 20 - any mental checklists probably focused on bands, books and movies. Since then I reckon we've carved some cooking and eating habits that suit us both and bring out the best of our differences. And it's a bigger part of what we share than any of the original list items.

thanh7580 said...

A great post Ella.

Even we who love food are constantly evolving. Believe it or not, but about six years ago, I had never eaten or liked sushi or sashimi. Then I tried a bit, and it wasn't so bad. And the more I ate it, the more I liked it. Now I can't get enough, eating sushi one or twice a week.

And yes, Cindy is right. Furry owns more cookbooks than me. I only own two. But I'm planning to get more.

Agnes said...

Lovely, lovely post, Ella!

I'm a bit of a control freak in my kitchen, so I'm not sure I could cope if Alastair started cooking too. Fortunately, he only seems interested in eating, which is actually good enough for me considering that when I first met him he barely ate and would NEVER finish a meal. That changed with my influence and now he enjoys food almost as much as I do.

I'm very impressed with Furry though!

Cindy said...

Ah Thanh, ultimately it's not how many cookbooks you own - it's what you do with them that counts! :-P

purple goddess said...

Why, thank you, kind friends.

Furry informs me he has yet another cook book on order! He'll have to go a long way to beat my collection, but it's getting to the point where he may need his own shelf in the kitchen.

And THAT, my friends, says more about his evolution than anything!

Anonymous said...

It would be difficult to be with someone who dosn't share my love of food PG so I can really get what you are saying here.
Bravo Furry, keep up the culinary scholarship!

thanh7580 said...

Cindy, I typed the "it's not how many cookbooks you own - it's what you do with them that counts" three times and decided to delete it in the end. I guess I needn't have worried. :-)

grocer said...

I know where you're coming from PG, being married to someone from that culinary hotspot - Midlands UK!

The over-riding question on the checklist is, or really becomes, is he willing to try stuff just for shits and giggles! Tick!

purple goddess said...

shits and giggles indeed!

I have to tell you the story of HOW Furry tried sushi the first time 'round.

We had been dating about a fortnight, and one of my besties got engaged and had an impromptu engagement dinner party.

This was the first time Furry had met Da Goils, so he was out to impress... I was talking to a friend when I saw the hostess approach Furz with a tray of sushi rolls. I watched, albeit a bit nervously, as Furry took one an plonked it, whole, in his mouth.

Seriously, I was waiting for the delicate "lift the napkin to mouth and remove offending morsel" movement.

But his eyes widened and he chewed on quite happily. He even went a few more pieces as the tray got handed around.

After letting him consume about 5 pieces, I approached him and asked "How are you doing?", and he replied:

"Your friends are great and I REALLY like that savoury, nose-spicey, marshmellowy stuff with the rice"

And at that point, I came clean and told him it was tuna sushi.Complete with raw fish, wasabi and seaweed.

He was an instant convert.

Jazz said...

I love this post!!!

My checklist was more primitive, it pretty much contained: Can he feed me?

And he has been for 20 years, and he has me eating lots of stuff I never would have even tried before. Mr. Jazz is my PG.

Lucy said...

A round of applause is in order for your Furry, I reckon. Great post.

And I love the sushi update, PG.

Mine was into good food (his ex is a caterer and his mother a brilliant cook) well before I met him, but you really do have to love a bloke who now cooks bowls of quinoa and brown rice happily, of his own accord...

Anonymous said...

Furry's have a check list too

Boobies ........ check!

Good Food ........ check!

end of list

Brandi Reynolds said...

not sure if you'd remember me...I'm omgirl from the MMB...but I have to say, I am so glad I found this blog!!!!

grocer said...

furry you are too funny.
Sydney, Sydney

purple goddess said...

Omgirl, I surely DO remember you!!!

You need to pop over to the Tav, so we can catch up!!!

And Grocer,

you made me snort cofee outta my nose!!