The theme today is disasters. No, I’m not talking Titanic or the Japanese Tsunami. I’m referring to those moments when you add the cream too early and it sours, when the cheesecake refuses to set and resembles something that is best described as bird-poo-on-a-plate, when your guests bite into their chicken and it’s a fleshy pink inside.
Every cook has their fair share of disasters. The best cooks learn from them.
Of course I can dispense this kind of pithy wisdom now. It was a different story the other night when I tried (and failed) to make decent gluten-free chicken empanadas.
I’d like to say I showed poise and grace in that instance but the truth is I swore like a long-haul truck driver and stormed off in a sulk.
They weren’t inedible. In actual fact, they were extremely tasty but the pastry just didn’t work at all and they fell apart in my hands.
Ho hum, such is life.
In the spirit of learning from my mistakes and owning them as some therapists would no doubt say, here are my top three disasters.
- The time I made a deliciously elaborate quiche only for it to slide out of my hands as I bent to put it on the oven. Hubby heard the crash and appeared to find me sitting weeping on the floor, raw egg dripping from my hair and pieces of runny spinach strewn about the kitchen. It must’ve looked like I had vomited explosively as my head rotated 360 degrees, a la The Exorcist.
- Once I served key lime pie to my inlaws. They loved it, had second helpings and loudly praised my abilities in the kitchen and my general brilliance as a human being. Except that what actually happened was that the pie crust stuck to the bottom of the pan, the whipped cream topping I’d oh-so-cleverly squirted onto it an hour before dinner to save time, collapsed into a runny mess and the lime filling looked like an anemic blancmagne. In short I served them a collapsing tower of green and white goo.
- Sometimes, when the mood strikes, I make my own stock. I carefully pour the liquid into ice-cube trays, shove it in the freezer and use as needed. So far so good. One night I popped out a couple of cubes and added them to a delicious bean chili. Within two bites hubby was saying “what’s this crunchy stuff?’. The crunchy stuff in question was the remains of a glass bottle that had shattered in the freezer months ago. At the time we thought we’d cleaned every remnant but no, shards fell into the stock cubes and then I tried to feed them through my husband’s intestines. Thankfully no-one died that night but it was close.
What about you? Care to share your tales of disaster? How do you handle the failures – with a mature and optimistic response? or, like me, by shrieking like a banshee at the first sign of trouble? How bad would something have to be before you decide not to serve it to guests? Have you ever inadvertently killed someone with your food? (perhaps don’t answer that last, I don’t want to be considered an accessory).