Monday, November 24, 2008

Help Me! I'm A Kitchen Cripple

There are two kinds of people present
at my house on Thanksgiving.

There are the Eaters
and there are the Cookers.

Sadly, I am not as good a Cooker
as I am an Eater.

I think it all started with my childhood.
With nine kids, my mom never
welcomed us into her kitchen.
She never encouraged us
to break eggs, measure flour,
stir, chop, or fry.
So, being cuisinely challenged
has been a handicap that I have
learned to live with.

The most common misconception
of handicapped cooks
is that they cannot cook.
We can cook.
We can cook day and night-
night and day.
We can whip up every dish and dessert
on the planet Earth.

The only drawback is:
It's not edible.

My gravy is too thick, my soup too thin.
My biscuits are heavy and my cakes are flat.
My meats are tough and my casseroles are dry.
And nothing ever tastes the same way twice.

I admit it.
I am recipe-retarded.
I won't attempt anything if
the printed ingredient list is
more than six lines.

One year I decided I would
bake some whole wheat bread for my husband.
We had eaten some wonderful sweet baked bread
with honey butter at a local restaurant,
and I figured,
"How hard can it be?"

Well- very hard, as a matter of fact.
My bread was so hard that my husband
drove a nail through it with a hammer
and hung it outside on a rope for the birds.

It hung from that little pine tree
through one whole winter -
swaying with the bitter winds -
coated with ice and snow -
ignored by bird and beast-
even in a season of famine.

Every time my husband looked out,
he would laugh.

And I would cry.

And I never baked bread again.

Us handicapped cooks
are like zombies in the grocery store.
We trudge about in the bakery aisle
like we can't read or see
and don't know where the cream of tarter is.
We don't even have a clue what in the heck
we even need cream of tarter for!
And we think to ourselves that maybe...
we can probably substitute baking soda...
or garlic salt ...or something else instead.

To hide our handicap,
people like me put on a "good cook" persona.

I own blenders and choppers and grills and graters.
I have fancy baking sheets and spatulas and spoons.
I have tons of spices and sprinkles and hideous herbs.

I even wear an apron sometimes.
Just for effect.

Us handicapped cooks have one wish.
That someone, somewhere, someday
will come up to us and beg us
to make our specialty dish
for the PTO, or the family reunion,
or the holiday feast.
We dream about it.

I will go through the motions this holiday.
I will roast the turkey, whip the potatoes,
bake the pies, and cook the cookies.

But all the while I will be fantasizing
about dozens of smiling family members
licking their lips and sucking their fingers
and cleaning their plates and asking for seconds.

...Of ooohs and ahhhs and "fabulous" and "delicious"
being whispered throughout the room...
Of time stopping
and my head being crowned
and my chest being fitted with a satin sash that says,
"World's Best Cook."