He mustered the ingredients, fished the saucepan and measuring jug from the cupboard and the wooden spoon from the drawer, then challenged her. ‘Okay, show me how you do it.’
She warmed the butter until it was a golden puddle roosting in the bottom of the saucepan. Reducing the flame, she added the flour then turned off the gas. Her spoon was a paddle battering flour and butter to a roux.
‘The milk,’ she said, ‘is added slowly.’ She melded a bare dessertspoonful of white liquid to the flour and butter, a process repeated and repeated until the mixture became a slithery white ink.
‘This is the tricky part.’ Her left hand and wrist worked the spoon, her right gripped the pan’s handle. ‘It’s tempting, at this point, to add the milk too quickly. It’s important not to rush.’
More milk, more stirring, though the bruising had ceased. Time, he thought, it’s taking too much time. I’d be done by now.
Then it was over. The last of the milk fell into the pan. She returned the pan to the stove, reignited the flame and the stirring resumed.
‘You’ll never get a sauce from that,’ he said, ‘it’s back to the consistency of milk. You’ve made it too thin.’
She stirred, her hips swinging slightly, her breasts bedevilling the bodice of her dress, her silence a censure. It was a waste; butter, flour, milk, all wasted. He’d have to start again.
The wooden spoon circumnavigated the pan. A bulge appeared in the surface of the liquid, the discharge a sigh more than a ‘pop.’ He peered into the pan. There was a sauce, a thick, lambent creamy sauce. She lifted the coated spoon, slid her finger along its back, forged a pathway through the sauce. She turned to him, placed the sauce painted finger in her mouth, watched him as he watched her slowly withdraw it.
The spoon clattered on the bench top. She turned off the heat and walked away. ‘That’s how I do it,’ she said.