Ian McMillan: They’ve emerged like soft, chewy beer mats.

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I’ve lost my YPK. I had my YPK and now I can’t find it. It was a sudden loss; one minute my YPK was there, and the next minute it was gone. You all know what I’m talking about, but I’ll tell you anyway. My YPK is of course my Yorkshire Pudding Knack.

I was the go-to man for Yorkshire Puddings and I always have been, they would rise like those islands that sometimes appear in the ocean after an earthquake; beautiful, magnificent, reaching for the sky. The colour would range across the spectrum of pale browns and deep browns and browns that in certain lights could you fool you they were black. They would almost leap out of the tins onto your plate and wait there for you to eat them, round as full moons and just as unfathomably gorgeous. Always different, always the same; always brilliant, sometimes more brilliant. They were good.

Notice I’ve been using the past tense. They were good. Sadly, they’re not any more. The last few times I’ve made Yorkshire Puddings they’ve emerged like crispy discuses or soft, chewy beer mats. My heart has sunk because I know I’ve lost the YPK.

It’s not as though I’ve done anything unusual when I’ve been making them; always the same ingredients, always the same vigorous mixing, always the batter standing on the worktop to allow the Essence of Yorkshire to seep in through the atmosphere, always the oven as hot as hot can be, always the same amount of time in the oven. Not the same result, though, not the same result at all. I feel like an actor who’s fluffed his lines in a speech that always made people weep before, or a striker who freezes in front of goal, sending the ball over the bar. Now, I have to tell you, I’m nervous. They say that when you’ve fallen off a bike you should get straight back on the bike to stop you being nervous about getting back on the bike although having never fallen off a bike because I’ve never got on a bike that doesn’t really apply to me but you know the kind of thing I mean.

Tomorrow, I know I’ll get anxious and dithery as the time to make the puddings approaches. I’ll put the moment off by inventing spurious diversionary tactics. I just need to polish my shoes. I just need to send emails. I just need to determine the exact starting date of the Hundred Years’ War.

Eventually the time will come, like it always does. My wife will notice that I’m looking some words up in a French/English dictionary and say ‘Isn’t it time you did your Yorkshires?’ because she knows that despite my bohemian exterior, I’m really a creature of habit who likes his days to run as smoothly and predictably as a tram on a track. I’ll mumble some excuse and then I’ll mumble again and then I’ll look at the clock and I’ll know I can’t put it off any longer and I’ll put my pinny on with a heavy heart and I’ll get the flour and the eggs and the milk. Normally this is a moment of pure joy but for the man who’s lost his YPK it’s a kitchen based form of Chinese Batter Torture.

Maybe I’ll get it back. Maybe tomorrow will be the day. I’ll let you know.

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