Got your noodle in a knot over whether to parboil your potatoes or reheat your rigatoni? Stars of The Katering Show, intolerable foodie Kate McLennan and food intolerant friend Kate McCartney, tackle your vexing culinary questions. Our serving suggestion? Take their advice with a generous pinch of salt.
A microscopic amount of bin muck never goes astray on a sandwich. Photo: iStock
What's the best approach when a friend does something very unhygienic - takes out the bins, but doesn't wash their hands after, for instance - before making you a sandwich? What should you say? - Maria
McL says: I don't know too much about science because my school mainly encouraged the girls to just do bullying and their deb, but I have been assured by a woman who I follow on Instagram who goes under the handle @GutSlutt2, that bacteria is good for you, so I kinda feel like I've got a handle on the data.
Let me break it down into some really easy-to-understand alternative facts for you: germs = bacteria = in your tum tum = healthy microbiome = Gwyneth Paltrow. Make sense? Good. Microbiome is a term that you really need to get around because an unhealthy microbiome is to 2017 what chronic fatigue was to 1997 - it's to blame for everything that's wrong with you; your lack of energy, your farts, your relationship breakdown and getting fired from your after-school job at KFC. Fix your microbiome - fix your life.
And according to @GutSlutt2; the quickest way to get a healthy microbiome is to get born down a birth canal or harbour a tapeworm, so your friend has really taken the heavy lifting out of it by making you a sandwich with their rancid trash-can hands. So in answer to your question, the next time you see your friend I suggest you say, "Thank you", because by contaminating your pastrami on rye they have effectively extended your life expectancy by another decade, which is a good thing, apparently.
McC says: OK. On behalf of the whole scientific domain of bacteria, take a goddamn seat in your germ-free spacedome.
1. You clearly don't have kids. That's not a judgment, that's just something I'm typing with immense jealousy. Because hygiene is out the window once you realise a) you've spent two years slick like a river otter with your kid's effluent and b) that all your kid's favourite meals will be independently sourced by your kid from the floor of a carpark.
2. Contrary to the teachings of the Toilet Duck, you'll never get away from germs. Humans are just sun-damaged zip-lock bags for bacteria. Of the 100 trillion cells in your body, only one in 10 of those is actually human. The rest are viruses, micro-organisms, and bacteria. Unless you're Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon doesn't seem alive but wants to take over all living things, so technically he can be classified as a virus.
Back to bacteria.
3. Here are just a FEW of the good things bacteria have done:
- they boost your immune system by encouraging you to make antibodies
- they make sauerkraut
- they clean up oil spills
- they glow
Can you glow? Didn't think so. Come back to me when you can eat petroleum and poo out a condiment.
4. As a species, we've survived for millennia in less than ideal conditions. We've been a bit cold, a bit hungry, and importantly, a bit dirty, for most of that time. So you can survive a microscopic amount of bin muck. I have faith in the immune system bestowed upon you by GODDAMN BACTERIA.
In summary, what should you say to your friend who is making you a sandwich? Even if my matinee-idol looks and demi-science hasn't swayed you, let's look at the situation for what it is:
- You have a friend
- Your friend is making you a sandwich
- You don't have kids
So, and I can't believe I have to walk you through this, how about you say "THANKS FOR THE SANDWICH".
Culinary sorcery: Aquafaba can be whipped like egg whites into meringue. Photo: Matthew Mead
What is this aquafaba magic and can I make a pavlova with it? - Brian
McL says: Hi Brian, gee, thanks a lot for your really great question. I'd actually never heard of aquafaba so I just went online to find out what it is, and holy hell Brian, have you been on the internet lately? The world is falling apart like a burger on a dress. In the time it took me to google the meaning of aquafaba Steve Bannon burnt the US constitution, made female infanticide permissible by law and shot Alec Baldwin in the face. I was literally online for 25 seconds Brian. Then a targeted Google ad for a jewellery-making course popped up on my homepage. You're a real piece of work Brian.
Anyway, I did manage to glean that aquafaba is bean juice from a can and is often used as an egg white substitute. So congratulations, now you can enjoy a conversation-starting pavlova at your inner-city elite dinner party on the weekend while the rest of us huddle by our devices and watch modern civilisation burn like hair in a fire.
McC says: Aquafaba are the Swedish entry for the 2017 Eurovision song contest. They hope to bring pre-WWIII Europe together with their boppy Max Martin-style viking metal song Knowing Me, Knowing Battle Hammers.
Having trained extensively at Le Cordon Bleu, the members of Aquafaba know how to make a traditional Swiss meringue. And Swiss meringue, I can tell you, is the only meringue to use in a pavlova. I know this because I just spent three weeks very legally watching every series of the Great British Bake Off. In related news, I used to have friends and be in my 20s. But that decade is as distant in my memory now as the music of Moby and the point of G-strings. Next question.
Sugar makes kids behave like metal in a microwave. Photo: Eddie Jim
My in-laws have plied my kids with tonnes of chocolate and lollies, and now they are on constant sugar highs from munching through the stash. How do I politely suggest they (the in-laws) back off on the sweet stuff? - Melanie
McL says: Do you work Melanie?
Do your kids go to childcare and bring home illnesses such as gastro, hand foot and mouth, and gastro?
Do you ever need to go to the dentist to sort out a receding gum issue because your breath is starting to smell like a nappy that's been left in a hot car?
Do you ever pretend you're going to the dentist but really you're just sitting in your car at an aircraft viewing area listening to Moloko's The Time is Now and remembering your 20s?
Do you ever need to work at night because you forgot about writing a column that you're in no way qualified to write but you do anyway because it's a good way to engage with your fan-base without having to get your roots done or wear pants?
If the answer is "yes" to any of the above then I suggest you do what ticked-off daughter-in-laws have been doing since Abraham married his half-sister; affect a dead-eyed smile and when you get the chance escape to the bathroom and scream silently into the toilet rolls, because Melanie, today's sugar pushers are tomorrow's unpaid babysitters.
McC says: Don't tell your in-laws what to do. People don't learn by being told what to do; they learn by realising things through personal experience, via situations that you have secretly engineered such as your identical twins trying to get your divorced parents back together through clothes swapping and international kidnapping.
So here's my plan: make your in-laws look after your kids for a week. Give your in-laws the space and time to really lean into their own downfall. Let them feed your kids whatever technicolour diabetes starter pack that their small angry mouths crow for. After 168 straight hours of your kids behaving like metal in a microwave, your in-laws will be crushed to a fine river silt and will quake at the thought of a sour worm. And you will have pulled off an act of subterfuge and manipulation unseen since Steve Bannon slithered up a table leg and pulled the tablecloth from beneath the US constitution.
Don't try too hard this Valentine's. Photo: iStock
It's Valentine's Day this month. How do I impress my current crush without seeming too try-hard? - Carmel
McL says: I had a crush on a boy once, and like you, I was afraid of my eggs drying up and subsequently, not having anyone who could drive me to my gynaecologist appointments in my old age so I really pulled out all the stops to make this boy mine. I wore recreational hats. I rode a bike in a skirt. I acted like an Uber driver with benefits. I also dropped food packages off at his house including mason jars filled with half-defrosted soup and blueberry muffins that resembled Steve Bannon's cankerous soul and face. I'm not sure if it was the muffins that did the trick, but eventually, when all the other girls he was seeing ended it with him, he decided that he'd let me be his girlfriend, and aside from the cheating and him never giving me his phone number it was the greatest three years of my life.
I guess what I'm saying Carmel is don't worry about trying too hard this Valentine's Day. The more degraded you feel the more chance you have of living happily ever after. That's love! Pull out all the stops; make him cupcakes filled with dildos, bake bread using the yeast of your own vagina and if you really want to make an impression, leave some oysters on his doorstep. Good luck lover!!! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo
McC says: Romance is gross. Don't be weird. I'm embarrassed for you.
If you really don't want to seem like you're trying too hard, next time you see your crush try falling to the ground and omitting a "dead stench" like an opossum. That'll keep them guessing.
Steve Bannon probably has a dead stench like an opossum. That's because there's a whistling cavity filled with a wasp's nest where his heart once beat.
NB: We're sorry about all the Steve Bannon references. It's been a long couple of weeks and we no longer have REM cycles.