I don’t think you get to my mindset (aka fear) about cooking without some sort of traumatic past experiences. I’ve had a few. Today I shall bravely delve into a memory from late elementary school…
I wasn’t always against cooking. I think (though I’ve blocked it) that I actually liked cooking when I was a child. Maybe that’s because my mom would always did the scary stuff – cutting, dealing with anything heated, cleaning the dishes, and, of course, raw meat handling. I got to do the fun stuff – pouring, stirring, eating. It was a perfect partnership. Until I made the mistake of trying to change the dynamic.
I had the best of intentions. It was Mother’s Day. My bestest friend, Lisa, was over (not sure why she was at our house on Mother’s Day morning). We decided that we should make my mom breakfast in bed (also not sure why my dad thought this was an okay idea since I’d never really cooked anything before. I think Lisa convinced him – she was very good at persuading people, even at ten.)
I think most youngsters would start with something easy: toast, bagel, waffle – but no, we wanted to make bacon, eggs, and hashbrowns. Lisa was in charge of the hard stuff (bacon and eggs) because they involved lots of careful attention, and I was delegated the hashbrowns. All I needed to do was peel, cut (which I was okay with pre-Emergency room), heat, stir, and season.
(Sidenote, why in the world did we not just use frozen hashbrowns? Though, that actually still wouldn’t’ve made a difference in the end result.)
I was off to a great start. Peeled and cut (I’m sure my ten year old cutting is about the same as it is now, though it was a lot more acceptable back them), I put all the potatoes in my parent’s gigantic (expensive) wok that had been pre-heating on the stove.
There may have been a crackle-sizzle-pop sound as they landed in the bowl of the wok. That just meant they were going to cook fast, right? I grabbed a wooden spoon and started to stir them. The ones on top moved. The ones actually touching the wok, not so much. I dug in, and rammed the spoon under the potatoes. Nothing.
At this point, Lisa is looking over at me. I smile like everything’s fine, and continue to try and scrape the potatoes off. Then, it starts to smoke. A lot. Like so much that the smoke alarm goes off. (So much for my mom sleeping in and being surprised by our thoughtfulness).
We (as in Lisa) turns on the vent while my dad opens the windows and doors while waving a kitchen towel around the detector. I’m still staring at the smoking potatoes and finally realize I should probably remove them from the heat.
Lisa casually looks at me and asks, “Did you put any oil in the pan?”
- Mom had toast for breakfast.
- The wok was completely and utterly ruined.
- I have yet to use a wok again.
- Lisa still brings up this story every time I see her.
- My issues with cooking have just begun.