I am, at present, waiting with tea in hand and the kettle on, for the officer from the environmental health department to come and inspect my kitchen. The sun is creeping up the brae and the chickens are picking through the grass with their usual, ardent optimism. Unsure as to whether it is appropriate to offer the officer tea before he inspects my kitchen and unsure whether he will be disparaging about the occasional chicken in the hallway – at least they eat the mice – I check in the fridge for milk. If he was Turkish I’d almost certainly offer him tea, without milk, before business of any sort took place and my Sicilian uncle seals every meal with an espresso. However, in Ullapool in the Western Highlands of Scotland, I’m concerned my nice Kenyan medium roast might be taken as a come on.
As it was he didn’t want tea. And he’s quite sure my kitchen won’t pass the environmental health inspection. I have to buy a dishwasher in which to sterilise my pans with heat to safely make jam. Sterilise my pans? I asked. Yes, he said. You do know that you boil jam? I asked.
Apparently he did know that.