November 3, 1997
There are few places in this world where I feel completely in charge. Not in the bedroom, not in the office and not out in public. I've never been able to pull off that righteous self-proclaimed self-importance that so many in this world can. I've always been annoyed and a little jealous of these people who take over every situation and simply expect people to follow.
The one place where all my trepidations, fears and insecurities end is the kitchen. I am so secure in the kitchen that if I can't make something, I can admit it and work around it. I can't make bread. Fine, I can go to the bakery. I can't make Jello (it never sets) - I can always get Leslie to make it for me.
I can bone a whole chicken. I can BBQ a turkey better than my mother and I make a mean Coq Au Von. My sense of smell is paranormal and I can recreate dishes I have in restaurants.
Leslie is never comfortable more than one foot away from the dishwasher or the fridge. I know it's my fault. No matter how hard I try I can't seem to make that final leap to acknowledging that she is more than a guest in the kitchen. I always end up taking the knife out of her hand and chopping the celery myself because she wasn't doing it small enough or big enough or at the right angle.
Once, she was whipping some cream and while looking at the bowl I said, "Let me know when you want me to finish that for you." Oh, that was a huge fight. It took me a long time to realize that I was being a bit snotty and controlling.
I did, however, allow her to buy a microwave oven about 2 years ago. Leslie feels some odd kinship with anything that has lots of button and beeps. We always end up with the most complicated VCRs and stereos that money can buy. Her most recent calculator looks like a GameBoy with a few exra buttons. I can't even turn it on, much less actually add two numbers.
I've never liked microwaves. I figure that if God (I my be an atheist, but that never stops me from using the All Mighty in an argument) had meant us to heat food from the inside out He never would have invented the egg. Have you ever seen what a microwave does to an egg? If you try to cook a sunny-side-up egg in a microwave, you basically end up with a rubber representational egg coaster. It might be art but it sure ain't food.
But I was being a good and supportive and most important of all equal partner. We spent about $150 on a big black box with a clock that I can't set. The first thing Leslie did when we got it home was start telling me what can't go in it.
"No metal, foil or dishes that don't say microwave safe." She made the thing beep a few more times.
"Because. The metal and foil will create and electrical arch and the thing will blow up." She smiled.
"Right. It'll blow up. That's bad."
We bought some microwave popcorn. She put the bag in and pushed the popcorn button and it popped, beeped and I had some of the best at home popcorn I'd ever tasted. I got very excited. I went out and bought about $50 worth of microwavable TV dinners.
"Remove plastic wrap from meat and potatoes. Poke several holes over the desert and vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes on medium, turn and cook for 4 minutes on high. Let stand for 1 minute. Remove plastic wrap and stir potatoes before consuming."
Well, the honeymoon is over. I follow the directions and I either end up with a tiny, dry meal with smelt marks around the potatoes or I end up with frozen gravy on white hot chicken fried steak. Either way I have third degree burns on my hands from the plastic wrap.
Now, on those evenings when Leslie isn't going to be home for dinner, I buy 2 frozen meals. I try it in the microwave and if it's still half-frozen I eat it. If it's burned beyond recognition, I try again.
My mother has a one of the largest collections of useless and costly kitchen equipment. She's one of the 14 people in America that actually bought the "De-hydrator". One Christmas I received a plastic chopping system that came with a video. It consisted of some guy with an Australian accent doing amazing thing with vegetables and this plastic grater with a handle and several blades. I tried dicing an onion and after we got home from the Emergency Room I put it in a drawer never to be used again.
I'm thinking about mailing the $150, 20-pound popcorn maker to my mother to add to the collection.
Copyright 1997 by Laura Jiménez.