We’ve all had them, right?
My first mishap in the kitchen wasn’t exactly a disaster, but my family laughed and teased me about it for years afterwards. I was around 10 or 11 years old and asked my mother if I could try frying some bacon. “Sure,” she said, and handed me a frying pan. “The bacon is in the fridge.” Well, one thing I knew was that there were different ways of cooking things—boiling meant you cooked it in water, and frying was in oil, of course. Any dummy knew that. So I grabbed a bottle of oil and poured some into the pan, and then added the bacon. Just then, my mother walked into the kitchen and…well, you know the rest.
When I got to college my cooking skills had improved a bit, which was a good thing because my sister Bertie and I lived in the “poor girls” dorm where all the girls had to clean house and cook. Our meals were, shall we say, somewhat uneven in quality, but we had no choice but to eat what was set before us, even if the cook assigned for the day had never boiled water before.
When we had cook’s duty, we were allowed to pick our own menu, so when it was my turn I decided to bake a cake for dessert. All the ingredients came in bulk-sized cans, so I opened the ones I needed—flour, sugar, baking powder—and started scooping the stuff out with a measuring cup. I was pretty proud of myself, because I’d never made a cake from scratch before, only from mixes. I put the eggs, flour, and all the other ingredients into a huge bowl (it had to be a big enough cake so everyone could have a piece) and mixed it with the electric mixer. Then I popped it in the oven and waited, making sure not to open the oven so it wouldn’t fall. After a while I noticed that there seemed to be something pressing against the glass window of the oven door. Strange. I opened the door, and a gigantic blob of dough practically oozed out of the oven onto the floor! What the hell? Then it hit me…I had confused the flour can with the baking powder can…
Another blunder many years later also had my daughters laughing at me for years afterwards. We’d had roast chicken, and I had very carefully picked it to the bone so I could make soup stock. After it had simmered on the stove for hours, I picked up the pot and a big strainer so I could get rid of the bones, and then…I unwittingly poured the stock down the drain. Yes, I did.
The worst (and most disgusting) of all was when I invited a lovely Peruvian family over for dinner. One of their children was in my pre-school class at the time. His mother very nicely offered me a special Peruvian recipe of white fish baked in milk. I had gone to the store and bought some nice filet of sole, and I nestled it in a baking dish with the milk and seasonings, while she and I prepared the other food. When it was time to take the fish out of the oven, I reached in and pulled the pan out, and to my absolute horror, the fish was covered with brown worms that were standing up (I swear!) and wiggling! Needless to say we had to make do with the other food, but by then we’d all lost our appetites, in fact, I didn’t go near any filet of sole for years after that. But at least that one wasn’t my fault!
So what cooking disasters have you had? C’mon, I know you’ve had them, unless you’ve never cooked!