Monthly Archive for April, 2008

A cheesy moment

Getting food on the table is easy for me. I walk into a restaurant, pick up the waiting take-out order and put it on the dining table. Some people prefer a more circuitous method called cooking. I strongly maintain that if all humans are meant to cook, we would have evolved with a spatula for a hand. In any case, I have recently been asked to produce macaroni and cheese, not by the normal processes of getting it from a restaurant but by the infinitely complex process called cooking.

What happened was, over-ambitious wife promised mac-and-cheese to the kid but found herself unable to fulfill the promise due to an unexpected call from work. I was volunteered to fulfill the said promise. In her words, “Mac and cheese is easy. Boil milk. Pour macaroni. Add cheese and serve.” but for some reason she insisted on her writing the recipe down and repeating it 20 times.

The dish may sound simple but the recipe was not. My theory is that when a process involves heating milk to its boiling point, using hot burners and tongs, it should be classified as a chemical experiment rather than a process to produce something edible. Perhaps I should have started with a simpler dish. But as the old adage goes, all’s well that ends well. My cooking certainly ended well and the kid was well-fed and well-nourished.

When my wife arrived home, I was ready to accept the profusion of encomiums that were in order for the extraordinary job I performed. But no! No accolades. No tears of gratitude. Not even a small gift of appreciation.

All she did was look at the dish in which I produced my magnum opus and raise an eyebrow. I waited for the other eyebrow to follow suit but it didn’t. That was not a good sign.

She: (Suspiciously) Why is there ketchup in mac and cheese?

She was in dire need of enlightenment.
Me: When food has a smoky flavor, you nuke it with ketchup

She: It must have tasted awful!

Me: Au contraire, he loved it. (vigorous head-nodding approval from the kid)

She: (Growing more suspicious) Why did the mac-and-cheese have a smoky flavor?

I continued to enlighten her.
Me: Food assumes a smoky flavor when it is burnt

She: You burned MAC-AND-CHEESE? How could anyone burn Mac and cheese! It’s the simplest thing in the world to make!

I would argue with the choice of the word “simple” but it was not the best time for the dissertation of my chemical experiment theory.
Me: It’s not my fault. It’s the kid’s fault.

She: How so?

Me: See, after I put the macaroni in boiling milk, I needed to wait a few minutes for it to cook. So I told the kid to watch it while I cleaned the broken glass in the garage. Apparently in his vocabulary, “cooked” means “general texture of bituminous coal”


Me: I know, he completely blew it. In retrospect I should have watched the pot while he did the cleaning. But hindsight is 20/20.

She couldn’t speak for a few minutes probably mulling over the cogency of my argument.
She: (Resignedly) So he ate that charred glob.

Me: Why would I do that? We extracted all matter of certain color and brittleness and disposed it carefully in the trash. Then we doubled the cheese portion to compensate for the lost macaroni.

She: Let me get this straight, he basically ate a ball of cheese with ketchup.

Me: You make it sound so unappetizing