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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 22 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 22
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-04-11 08:13:11
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22. Spiced cooking

I just wish there was a way to see when somebody is a crook! I mean I had this strange feeling about the man with the red ring, I knew that there was something wrong with me and that he was not good news but how could I say that? I found it difficult even to admit it to my self and that has nothing to do with trusting my instincts or not, actually most of my life I trust my instinct.

I had some kind of similar conversation the other day with Amir when he was telling me about his airport uniform! Amir is my age and an artist all the way and you just need to give him a look to understand what I mean. However his dress code has become often a problem especially when he travels by plane, oddly the security people always pick on him. So the man decided to …buy a suit and a tie! So every time he travels by plane he wears his suit and tie; his air-travelling uniform. My grandmother used to say how easier would be everything if the crooks had a sign on their forehead! The most amazing thing is that the worst and bloodiest criminals in this world were really well dressed actually this is the first thing most of them did after their first crime; get some fancy and expensive clothes! But you see that’s another problem, security people and police they never been famous for their intelligence!

I checked outside again and this time covered by the curtains, he was still there watching my house and honestly that gave me the creeps so I decided to …cook! I know it sounds weird but cooking has always been part of me and my life. When I was sixteen I met a girl a few years older than me who had the luxury to live in her own apartment. Our relationship was great and we somehow started living together. Now this living together required cooking and very quickly we both found out that the only thing we could do is boil and egg and that not always successfully, so one day we went to a bookshop and bought a recipes book and if I remember well the title was “Mediterranean cooking” which sounded perfect for both of us. In the beginning we spend a couple of days browsing the book and looking the pictures deciding what we would like to eat.

Now I don’t know how familiar you are with cooking books but they have a weird way to put the recipes. They put everything is sections like poultry, meat, vegetables and then they have different sections like soups or snacks that have poultry or meat. But most importantly with these books is that they miss to tell you the basic. For example they might spend pages about pasta and forget to tell you how to cook plain spaghetti or make a simple potato salad! And today things are totally different and not only because the internet but because most of the products have to have basic instructions on the package.

Sometimes we forget that all these hypermarkets we are so used nowadays were science fiction forty years ago and today you go to a simple supermarket and you don’t know for example what brand of mayonnaise to choose from but back then there was only home made mayonnaise and that demanded art and knowledge. So and since we had no idea how to do anything we decided to cook …everything following the recipes one after the other as they were in the book starting from page one. I’m not joking, for over than three months we cooked everyday one recipe after the other as they were in the book starting with soups and followed by poultry, pork, veal and the difficult part …fish!

Fish was the difficult part for the simple reason that we both didn’t like fish and to make it worst I hate touching raw fish and if you are going to cook fish you have to touch it. For three weeks I think the cats of our neighbourhood had a party while the two of us run out of the house every time we finished until the smell of the fish would go away. But we were stubborn and determine to cook everything in the book …and we did! The good part was that we got to know the neighbours and a couple that lived downstairs loved fish.  And that was the first round.

The first round because we followed exactly the instructions from the book. The second round started straight away after we covered even the last pages with the desserts and it was all over again only this time we were allowed to improvise. And we did! This is when I started falling for the cooking. The same time I started travelling around Europe alone and tasting food from all around. Suddenly Italian pasta had a totally different dimension because now I knew how to make it, how to isolate the ingredients just tasting the food in a restaurant. It got more interesting because when I tried a dish I liked I had to do it myself after and see if I could remember all the different spices I had taste.

Cooking soon became a fascination and an adventure. Living in Finland has been a gastronomic challenge for me because even the Finns have to admit that their cooking is not exactly gourmet and they have the talent even the most attractive dishes like the salmon soup to make them boring! So cooking became my thing and with the years I learned to make some ethnic dishes but most importantly for me I created my own recipes that expand from starters to desserts and yes I love pasta that’s why I can cook all kinds of pasta dishes.

I never thought to make it a profession I think that would have spoiled my love to cooking and I think I have always impressed women who have visited the different places I lived with my fully equipped kitchen. But as I said in the beginning the best thing cooking does for me is that calms me and that moment with …Juha watching my door that’s exactly what I needed, something to calm me down before I run out and start screaming at him without any good excuse!

All characters and events depicted are fictional, and any resemblance to persons living, dead, or fictional or situations past, present, or fictional is purely and completely coincidental.   

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