..Not knowing whether it’s really ‘foreign’ or I'm just thick.
Trawling through the pages of my home-made recipe folder – the one I sometimes stick recipes into and never look at again – I found a recipes for nibbles that sounded both easy and appetizing. Prosciutto and Gruyere Pastry Pinwheels. “Ooh, very posh” I thought. According to the recipe it makes about 30; preparation time 10 minutes, baking time 16 minutes. It did involve parchment paper, which gave me a moment’s pause, but I think I remember working in this medium before without setting the house ablaze. So far the recipe met my standards – under 30 minutes total, can pronounce all ingredients, know where to buy all ingredients, not too may cooking utensils needed. I was duty-bound to keep reading.
The idea is to spread prosciutto, cheese and herbs onto a sheet of packaged puff pastry, roll it up, slice it and bake it. Apart from the fact that everything I bake turns out like a hockey puck, I was encouraged by the seeming simplicity of it all. The actual instructions however were to “roll up pastry “jelly-roll” style” - a term casually thrown in there with the assumption that Jelly-roll is part of one’s culture or genetic make-up. Now, I have to admit I eschewed Domestic Science (Home Ec, Cookery or whatever it was called), in favour of Music, Art, History, any other subject really. And now I’m paying the price. Is jelly-roll not part of my daily vocabulary because of this academic omission or is it really not a British thing? Would my high school domestically-educated friends, albeit still in England, know instantly how to 'jelly-roll' something , or was it just me? Teenage angst all over again.
Then my rule-bound Britishness kicked in, aided and abetted by the hopelessness caused by never having a clue why my flan is sinking or my Yorkshire puddings aren’t rising, - all compounded by a healthy dose of writer’s precision. I looked it up. I was relieved to see that “Jelly roll” is not to be found in my Oxford Paperback dictionary. Ever the student, I then looked it up in the American Webster’s dictionary to find that it’s basically - a Swiss Roll. Someone more confident in her culinary skills would have gleaned such from the recipe directions, but scarred by decades of disasters, I just had to check. And being an expat of 17 years now, I just never know anymore.
(A longer version of this piece also appears on the Expat Women web site)