I suspected that there might be problems from the minute I heard the news that the M4 was closed on Thursday morning, due to a traffic accident. When I heard another traffic report that the A34 was also closed as a result of another serious crash, I wondered how it might affect any plans for the day, because I was meeting friends at Denman College for a cookery demonstration.
Sure enough, when I arrived I learned that Pemba Lama, author of the Ultimate Nepalese Cookbook was stuck in all of that traffic and, despite setting off at 6am, he was not going to make it in time for the planned demonstration. Arrangements were hastily made for Peter Lien, head of the cookery school to do an impromptu demonstration which we sat back and enjoyed.
After lunch, the message came through that Pemba was just minutes away and shortly afterwards, he arrived to enthusiastic applause. His military training clearly equipped him with the stamina and presence of mind to launch straight into his work, because after six hours of being stuck in traffic, he was able to create some remarkable food in front of eighty women.
We had all the benefits of screens and cameras everywhere, so could see every bit of the action. Grating carrots for a pudding, stir frying marinated chicken or whizzing up fresh spices for a Nepali-style salsa, Pemba explained all in great detail.
What a delightful man, too! He radiated sunshine and good humour – who’d have thought he’d spent most of the day in a traffic jam?
Having tasted the delicious dishes he’d created, we simply had to buy the book and were grateful for the author’s signature. That task completed, he jumped in his car and drove all the way home again.
He was cooking dinner for his wife that evening!