Things Just Aren’t That Hard

CaptureThis is how the books tell you to make mayonnaise:

You separate an egg and you put the yolk in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, sugar, Dijon mustard and a splash of acid in the form of white wine vinegar or lemon juice and whisk it all together.

Then, add a drop of oil…

…just a drop mind you. One drop. No more, or you might set off a massive egg yolk + oil explosion.  Carefully whisk the drop in. Then add just another drop of oil. One drop. Then whisk it in. Continue this process carefully until the end of time and you will have a small blob of real mayo.

It’s a similar story with risotto…

You must add the stock one small ladle at a time and stir, stir, stir. With a metal spoon. This is critical. The constant stirring with the harsh metal spoon is essential as it breaks down the surface of each rice grain and releases the unctuous loveliness that makes risotto the comfort food it is. Once the first tiny ladle is absorbed, add another, and stir, stir, stir. It takes 18 minutes of constant work to make a risotto. You must not leave the stove. You cannot turn your head away, not even for a minute or you will find yourself alone in a world without hope.

I could go on…

…Bearnaise, Hollandaise, puff pastry. All so difficult.

And don’t get me started on soufflés.

The message we are being told is this…

…we cannot make these things. Only the elite can. And that’s not us. That’s just the way it is. There’s an exclusive club and we have not been invited.

What a load of BS…

This is how you really make mayonnaise: add the oil in a steady stream while whisking – bang. Mayo in one minute. Job done.

Same thing with risotto – add a third of the stock and leave it alone for 6 mins. Repeat twice more. Job done.

No waiting around, no labour, no mystery…leaves more time for drinking white wine.

People say stuff is hard because they want to protect their position or amplify their worth or simply puff themselves up.

I am reminded of all this…

…because today I find myself talking to big boy lawyers for the first time in a long time about grown-up stuff and they (as a class) are some of the most egregious purveyors of the “it’s really difficult you need me” obfuscatory self-aggrandisement.

A few years ago, when my father-in-law died, I was so angered by the impenetrable language used in his will that the lawyer who wrote it lost the entire probate job…saved the estate a five figure sum. Five figures!

Beware of these people. They look like this:

The web developer looking for two grand and 3 months when what he’s worth is £500 and two days…

The marketing guys who want to take you on a brand discovery journey…

The copywriter who can’t or won’t use your voice…

For these people, it’s all about them when it should be all about you.

So here’s a question – who in your life is making a mountain out of a molehill and sending you the bill?

Challenge them on it. Right now.

5 Responses to Things Just Aren’t That Hard

  1. Ieuan Roberts May 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Great article!

    We have an oft repeated saying in our house:

    “If lots of people can do it, how hard can it be?”

    Reminds us that very few things are insurmountably difficult…

    • Mark Nugent May 16, 2013 at 10:43 am #

      Thanks Ieuan – great attitude. I use it all the time with my kids (12 and 9yo); gets them doing a lot more stuff…

  2. Keith Plumb May 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm #


  3. Dave Verburg May 14, 2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Yet another great article Mark. A favourite story of mine along the same lines, also involves a famous son of Scotland the awesome Bill Shankly. When asked by a reporter why he thought he was so popular with supporters from many football clubs not just Liverpool FC Bill explained it thus. “ I’m a man of the people Shelly. You see there are some people out there who use words knowing that only 5% of the people will understand. I would never do this. You see, I would never say anybody was avaricious, I’d say they’re bloody greedy!


    • Mark Nugent May 16, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      I’ve said this before but do you know I was at school with David Moyes? Don’t remember him. Don’t think he made the chess team.

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