Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The tongue punisher.
Every once in a while, over-confidence or sheer exhaustion steers me down the wrong path.
Case in point - last night's chicken. In my defense, it was a marinade based on a poorly reviewed one I found on Epicurious that I tweaked (to what I thought would be) culinary excellence. I literally had a post written in my head about how I saved the day on this one, picking this poor marinade up by the boot straps and slapping it into greatness.
Nope. It sucked. It sucked so bad I took two bites and threw it out. It sucked so bad, it temporarily stunned our taste buds to where we had to rinse our mouths out with fizzy water and wait an hour before moving onto a bowl of cereal. It was horrendously, cruelly, bitter. So bitter that we dubbed it "The Tongue Punisher."
Perhaps it was simply because it marinated for 2 days instead of 1 (we had to work late Sunday night so I didn't get to make it until Monday night.) Perhaps it was the throw-caution-to-the-wind pinch of Chinese Five Spice I added. We'll never know - I'll never make it again.
Good things do come from mishaps like this though. First off - an appreciation for modern day society and the option of ordering takeout should this fate befall you. And second - gratitude for the tried and true recipes that all of us have. The recipes you can make with your hands behind your back. The recipes that may not sexy and daring because of their familiarity to us, but that turn out again and again.
My mom's best friend, Pauletta, told me the funniest story once about their young neighbors who moved in next door to them in Houston in the 70's. Apparently, they couldn't wait to have them over for dinner in their new house. When Pauletta and her husband showed up, the young husband greeted them stiffly and explained that his wife would be out of the kitchen in a moment and that she was a little 'held up' with dinner. Dinner never came. After an hour, the finally wife emerged from the kitchen, sweaty and haggard looking with puffy, red eyes.
A novice cook, she had apparently attempted Beef Wellington as her show stopper recipe for the evening, complete with home made pate and puff pastry. It's a miracle she hadn't stuck her head in the oven out of frustration... (To this day, Pauletta's husband teases her about it by asking "When's the Wellington gonna be ready?")
The point is, a tried and true recipe is worth its weight in gold, especially for entertaining. Guests and loved ones would rather be fed a perfectly executed, simple spaghetti than nothing at all.
As for me, because I don't have guests coming over this evening nor do I listen to my own advice, I'll be attempting yet another new recipe from Martha Stewart. I'll let you know if we end up eating cereal...