My brother, Martin, cooked when I couldn’t: https://youtu.be/bM1uxyiwx8s.
We were celebrating my return from hospital. Having survived the world tour cooking across six continents , I nearly died in a car accident in France. I was there to discover new cooking opportunities but ended up in hospitals for five months: two months in Intensive Care and six weeks in a coma. It was truly touch and go as to whether I’d survive and, if I did, whether I’d be paralysed from the neck down. Looking back at the first video I made in the hospital https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBMOMDSInYY it’s clear that I was still struggling.
But with excellent medical care, fantastic support and much love, I got through it and soon started to sound and look much stronger https://youtu.be/h7nJI57H-M8
When I eventually was able to return home, I still wasn’t well enough to stand and cook. Former Royal Navy Fleet Catering Officer stepped in to the breach: Martin spent nearly a whole day making his magical Italian ragout for our special meal to mark the homecoming and all the efforts of family and friends to keep me going.
This is certainly one of those dishes that has to be cooked from the heart: chopping vegetables so fine that they virtually disappear; hours and hours of stirring and gentle simmering; two types of minced meat with just the right balance of lean and fat; the weird but successful addition of milk; lashings of wine to evaporate and, ultimately, such rich unctuousness that anything more than simple plain pasta would be overwhelming. This is definitely not a meal for the faint-hearted or cholesterol-conscious.
For someone who’d been living on rather plain hospital fare for months, it was a distinct shock to the system but gloriously indulgent and heart-warming. What a wonderful welcome and huge incentive to get back in to the kitchen. Next time, you can see that I’d been inspired by Martin and was cooking again.