I had my first big test last night.
Our son drove up from Sydney to stay with us for a couple of days. Lately he's been cooking, and he's developing into a bit of a Jamie Oliver/Gordon Ramsay, depending on his mood.
He cooked for my wife and me last night – pork chops in a beautiful onion and garlic based sauce, with crunched Italian styled potatoes with fennel. We sat down and had a great dinner together.
We then went into our tv room and watched Django Unchained, the Tarantino movie. (very disappointing, except for Samuel L Jackson who was brilliant.)
While watching the movie my son said he'd go and heat up the remaining chop, which he did. Then he came back and we kept watching the movie.
After about half an hour, my wife sniffed the air. Did you leave anything on the stove? she asked.
Our son raced out into the kitchen, as did my wife and I.
We could hardly see 2ft in front of our noses, there was so much smoke. He'd turned the hot plate up to maximum heat, and the pork chop in the Le Cruset pan was cinder-ized.
Fortunately the kitchen hadn't caught fire, but that was only minutes away.
I wasn't worried about the chop, I was worried about the pan, because they have enamel bases, and if they're left on high heat, they can crack, and they're useless.
I looked at the bottom of the pan and it was charred and black.
I was furious.
I bit down hard and we went back to watching the film, which now held even less interest for me.
My wife could see that I was fuming –
Our son started to apologise, but I was wasn't listening. I went online and looked up the replacement value of that particular pan. $363. Nooooooo.
The film now held absolutely no interest at all. As Django started shooting up bad guys and blood started spurting everywhere, Tarantino style, all I wanted to do was get that enamel pan and bang it over my son's head.
It brought back all the times in the past when he and I had clashed. He knew it, and I knew it.
My wife looked across at me, reading the warning signs. She hissed at me –
Bill, remember you're a PILGRIM!
I thought of the Camino. The Meseta in fact, early one morning, the air crisp and the sun just rising over a wide flat plain.
And I relaxed.
What was a pan? Our son had just driven four hours from Sydney to cook us a gorgeous meal. And now we were all sitting together enjoying just being in the same room.
So what if I had to trash the pan? It was more important that our son had made the effort to come and see us, and cook us a meal.
At that moment I felt an overwhelming sense of love for him.
Later, after the movie, my wife went into the kitchen, put on some industrial strength gloves and began scrubbing, trying to give the pan emergency roadside assistance.
My son and I sat and talked, dissecting the movie and talking about the relative merits of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Jackie Brown.
Underneath it though, we were making amends. Both of us saying sorry, sub-texturally, both of us telling the other we loved them.
The pan eventually was revived, to live another day and cook another pork chop. My son and I agreed that the movie we'd just watched was not as good as Pulp Fiction –
And I suggested to him that one day, he walk the Camino.