Being a bachelor and abhorring restaurant dining, I cook for myself; and I’m a darn good cook and dish washer. American restaurant food is too salty and greasy, and it’s loaded with carcinogenic nitrates. Why do American restaurateurs think we crave all that garbage? The day’s not complete until I’ve eaten a home-cooked supper.
A short list of my homemade dishes is the following: Chili con carne—hot enough to remove your lips; Pasta with any one of my red or white sauce recipes; Red jambalaya with any kind of dead fish and chardonnay wine; Yellow paella with shrimp, chicken, sausage, and chardonnay wine; Arroz con pollo—it’s also hot; Italian meatloaf—microwaved, no less; Irish shepherd’s pie—it’s easily microwaveable; Welsh leek soup—not very filling but great on a cold day; American-grilled steak, potatoes, and corn on the cob—great even without butter.
My first fiancée, Kathryn, was a great cook when she wanted sex, which was almost always. My second fiancée, Betsy, couldn’t cook a lick. She couldn’t boil water without burning it. In fact, she had to use every piece of cooking ware, plate, and bowl in the kitchen just to produce two tuna fish sandwiches and canned soup. She couldn’t clean up either.
Sometimes cleaning up after a meal is a major operation. For example, cooking scrambling eggs leaves half of them stuck to the pan, and cleaning up is next to impossible unless you pre-treat the pan with that god-awful spray. I don’t, so chiseling or sand blasting is usually necessary. Boiling the eggs is a solution to the cleaning problem. But the yellow egg yolks taste like dirt; and half of the shells stick to the slimy white part, which is okay if you like eating eggshells.
I like cooking with natural gas because it’s quicker and less expensive than electricity, but gas stoves are hazardous. I have one and just about blew my two dogs and myself into the next century a while back because I turned on an eye with an unlit pilot light. Natural gas kept issuing into the kitchen atmosphere until I smelled my carelessness and shut it off. Since then, I check—and double check—that any stove eye that’s turned on is emitting a blue flame.
“SHAKE THE BOTTLE”. That’s the instruction on most condiment bottles. However, before you shake the bottle, tighten the cap. I’ve failed to do that many times and have slung the liquid crap all over my kitchen. Similarly, I’ve dumped a quarter pound of black pepper into a pot of stew by carelessly removing the built-in sifter from the container. I’ve squirted ketchup at a 90-degree angle onto my shirt many a time. This happens when the opening of the plastic bottle is partially stopped up with dried ketchup, and the red stuff comes out sideways going everywhere except where it’s supposed to go.
Spilling rice while you’re pouring it into a pot is the worst mess of all. The kernels go everywhere, especially under the heavy appliances, and you’ll never catch up to all of them. You can vacuum the rice up and waste it, spend an eternity picking up each kernel, or sell your house and leave the problem to someone else. The same thing goes for spilt spaghetti.
There’s also the one-inch-thick crust that forms on the bottom of the pot while chili simmers for 36 hours. This is another reason for chiseling and sand blasting. Buying a new pot is the capitalist’s cleaning method.
Sometimes when I get home from the office, it’s late, and I’m too tired to cook supper. So I order Chinese for delivery. I’ve failed miserably every time I’ve tried to cook Chinese cuisine; so I order it. Although I don’t know how to cook it, I’ve learned that Chinese food is best paired with beer.
If a Chinese restaurant is owned and run by a Chinese family, the food is not only excellent but also authentic. I chose a nearby Chinese restaurant to cater to my needs because the proprietors, whose native language is Mandarin, can barely speak English. Because of the language barrier, they have a propensity to screw up my order; but that doesn’t matter. All real Chinese food looks and tastes the same anyway.
I’ve been eating Chinese food for the better part of my life, and I still don’t know why duck sauce is called duck sauce. But it sure is good.
Incidentally, it’s leftover meatloaf for supper tonight.