How detail must the instructions I give the maid be when it comes to preparing food for the table?
Cleanliness? Check! Every minutiiae from washing and drying of hands, to separating cooking equipment, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans. Which tea towel for what. Chopping board: one each for meat/fish, veggie and fruits.
But there are finer points unrelated to cleanliness that get overlooked. I mean when I say “peel this apple”, I don’t need to add, “and then put the peel in the trash-bin”, do I?
It seems that such finer details aren’t always obvious to those who come from the deepest of Indonesia.
Let me illustrate.
There’s this rather expensive vegetable called Choi Sum Fa (Chinese spinach with tiny flowers ranging from green to yellow as seen in the pix).
Now you would imagine there’s no need to instruct someone, indeed anyone, that the flowers (besides the tender stems and leaves) are the piece de resistance and that’s what makes the veggie quite pricey.
So, I never thought to tell Siti the maid who joined us 4 months ago, unlike digging out the “eyes” from potatoes, sweet potatoes etc, taking out the seeds from chilli, running water when peeling onions and so on.
Image my surprise earlier this week when I walked into the kitchen and found her at the sink diligently snipping off the yellow flowers of my precious bag of choi sum!
“Why are you doing that?” I demanded, more suprised than angry, just like I would be if I found her putting a tub of ice-cream next to boiling pot, with the gas turned on high. (Actually, she’s done that with fish fresh from the market but that’s another story!)
“What ma’am?” asked my dosey maid, snipping off yet another flower.
“Stop it, now!” I said in my most peremtory voice as she looked at me with her hush-puppy eyes.
Oh, I gave her an earful about the flowers but at the end of the day, what else could I do but gnash my teeth that I had once again 4gotten to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s”. One may think it isn’t necessary to spell out everything but that’s where one is wrong. Never take anything for granted with an FDW!
Come to think of it, we have had choi sum fa on several occasions already and it now occurs to me that each time the dish had come to the table sans the yellow flowers, even tho the veggie back from the supermarket often had resplendent bouquets.
Must make sure I reinforce the lesson the next time we have choi sum fa for dinner.