According to all decent cooks, there is one absolutely key secret to making excellent food. That is tasting as you go. This is possibly why items which transform magically in the oven tend to be seen as more high class affairs, rustic stews and soups can be tinkered with endlessly as long as you know a bit about what you are tasting.

I have to say I have never been great at this. Until recently my general line would be to taste, and if it was not as nice as I wanted, add a bit of salt. I feel I have inherited this urge from a long line of stout British yeomanry, and have only recently discovered the condiment of choice for my Polish roots – add a bit of vinegar (admitted the poles were probably short of cheap Balsamic). But now I feel more profligate with fresh herbs, and generally notice a touch of bitterness which needs a bit of sugar, or tempering (ha ha – masking) with mint.

Except there is one thing I have never mastered with tasting as I go. Not burning my mouth. Like people who state they have asbestos hands, and rather appear to have hands primarily made up of third degree burns, I always forget how hot food is. The first spoonful is blown assiduously, to tepidness. Thus having overdone the first one I become more laissez faire with the second one. The third spoonful (this being a painful example of last night) will always have the dangerous combination of too hot and too much.

Of course you can’t spit it out. Not back into the pot. And anyway, genetically human beings must do the ‘Ot ‘Ot dance when they can feel their tongue going fuzzy and their gums peeling. So any tips on how to remind oneself that food is too hot during tasting will be appreciated.

* The ‘Ot ‘Ot dance consists of pulling a face like a monkey whilst trying to internally blow ones own tongue. This being a physical impossibility the gurning gets worse as you try to shift the food around your mouth but suddenly self awareness of looking ridiculous will probably induce the dancer to say “Ot – Ot” as if explaining that the food is hot, but unable to do the H without closing the mouth and trapping the deadly steam in.