On no account put it to an Italian your gastronomic skills are within walking distance of his, especially if he is a kitchen maestro who has a passion for creating delicious food.
And so it was: A Skype Chat..
Niall: I hate to ruin your day but
Niall: well your son C mentioned last night.. that my cooking was “like my father’s“…..
Niall: I take that as a huge accolade 😉
Mr. U (C’s father): I told him to be very polite, gentle, educated and even if he doesn’t like something, always say that was excellent.
That’s how a friend of 24 years humbles an Irishman who hitherto retained a high opinion, albeit short-lived, of his culinary dexterity. Oh well!
[There is a bit of history here: The June 1989 Beijing Food Massacre.
On June 6th I was cooking an Irish stew on a small electric stove in Room 1106 at the Beijing Language Institute (ak.a. Beijing Language and Culture University). A telephone call from an unflustered Noel Kilkenny, First Secretary of the Irish Embassy in Beijing, diverted my attention. The city was in lock-down mode, rumours of civil war and further crackdown swirling. He put me in the picture and soon I was running down ten flights of stairs to meet him, having instinctively unplugged the stove and grabbed my toothbrush.
Four months later, I unlocked the door of 1106… Ah the stew still there on the stove… rotten, slimy and mouldy…. And then my roommate Mr. U, the kitchen maestro, arrived!]