Despite its being the early flush of August, this post is by way of a Valentine to Kriston
, who as you'll soon see is more or less performing community service every day for hanging around a fucking headcase such as me.
This is a public declaration of sorts—a voyeuristic peek into the inner workings of an average evening so that you will know for sure that our relationship's uncanny duration is based pretty much on the grammarpolice's tolerance for pain.
We'd been having pretty much a perfect Sunday: we discovered a lovely little gourmet foods market by my house that sold Lone Star beer (a rare, rare find), and we popped a couple Texas longnecks and strolled through the community garden plots behind my house. Cradled up to Glover Archibold Park, there are these rows and rows of garden plots, where people come and tend their tomatoes, pumpkins, herbs, whatever. We were sipping our beers and admiring one precocious patch of jalapeno peppers, when the proprieter of that plot came along and offered us all the peppers we could stuff into our bags. Score! Gorgeous weather, nostalgic beer, the abundance of nature, and jalapenos!
We decided to take advantage of our bounty and make something that involved peppers. I scoured recipes and got the great idea that we should make a Mexican mole sauce and have chicken with mole. So, here's lesson number one and two about cooking on a whim:
1) If the recipe you find is prefaced by the cook's gushing exhortations about how making the dish was a "spiritual experience" that took "all day," you should probably just turn the page, or at the very least -
2) Do not start a spiritual recipe at 9pm
Oh, hindsight, you gloating bitch.
We'd already bought a whole chicken (expertly hacked to pieces by Kriston who then turned to me with a disturbing grin and said "I feel like a murderer!"), chocolate, spices, seeds, cinnamon, nuts, the fucking holy right hoof of the Lord Goat of Oaxaca, I mean Christ. It was complicated.
And I start right in with the roasting, the toasting, the carmelizing, the marinating, the - the pureeing. Oh, Lord, pureeing? This mountain of ingredients, apparently, must all go into a food processor. Or a blender. Neither of which Kriston owns. Nor does Upstairs Erik. All of these boys are USELESS BACHELORS. And it is now like 10pm, and I am nowhere near finished and my spiritual experience is RUINED and I'm, shall we say, getting a wee bit tense.
I weighed my options. It was too late to run all the way back to my house for a food processor, which as a decent American, I OWN. Mashing would be futile. Cutting into tiny pieces would only fuel my gathering rage. So spitting in the face of the culinary gods, I grabbed two coffee bean grinders and set them side by side on the counter like tin soldiers. I looked at them sternly. They looked back stupidly. "I am about to make mole sauce in a coffee bean grinder," I thought to myself.
This is the point at which our heroine experiences what the Greeks called hamartia
, or the tragic flaw. The heroine descends upon an inevitable path to misfortune through some weakness of character, or moral blindness, or error. Thus Oedipus marries his mother, Othello is murderously jealous, and our heroine chooses to spit in the eyes of the culinary gods by pureeing her spiritual experience into Starbucks coffee bean grinders.
So, cooking tips number 3 and 4:
3)Do not indulge your hamartia by spitting into the eyes of culinary gods, or at least-
4) Read the damn recipe through first.
Was that the weighty bulk of fate I felt on my shoulder as I slowly fed chiles and roasted tomatoes into the little, burbling grinders? Should I have stopped when they first started spewing and oozing clumps of rainbow-colored gunk? Did this messy operation lead inevitably to the moment when I would add too much chicken broth and then freak the fuck out?
Because I did indeed, freak out. Upon realizing that I added too much, I started trying to drain chicken broth from my sauce, even though it was thoroughly incorporated into the sauce by then. I screeched and grabbed a pot lid and sloppily poured goop straight into the sink.
"What are you doing?" asked Kriston, still unaware of the shit that was edging closer to the fan.
"I HAVE TO DRAIN THE BROTH! I PUT TOO MUCH FUCKING BROTH IN!"
"Jesus, you can't drain it, it's too late."
"GET ME A STRAINER! DO YOU HAVE- WHERE'S A- GET- STRAIN!!!!"
As Kriston started rifling through doors, I was at this point, using my fingers as a strainer for this boiling-hot sauce. I was essentially pouring clumps of half-finished burning mole all over my hand, screaming for a strainer. All over the counter. All over the floor. The walls, in fact, were not spared.
"PUT IT OVER THE GODDAMN SINK," said Kriston, finally getting into the spirit of things.
Instead, I just threw the whole bowl on the counter, splattering sauce on everything that wasn't already covered, and glared at the recipe again.
Add chocolate, the recipe said innocently. And stir on the stovetop FOR AN HOUR.
It was past 10pm at this point. There was mole on everything. My dry-clean only pants. My hand-wash top. Kriston's entire life. So once again, I decided it was a good time to freak the fuck out some more, and I start slinging mole-covered appliances (grinders) all over the kitchen while crying hysterically.
I could not see Kriston through my Tazmanian Devil whirlwind of chaos, but I'm sure he had that look on his face that he gets when I do this from time to time. That look that says, "I hope I look concerned, but I do not understand why she is crying, and please please please god make her stop doing that, because I do not know how." Eventually, god bless 'im, he managed to restrain me by the shoulders look into my eyes (not plucked out, so Oedipus still has me beat), and tell me repeatedly to "CALM THE FUCK DOWN." I told him that I ruined our dinner and I wasted all that money and we would go hungry and never never never eat and it was all my fault and I don't deserve food.
"We...have...ravioli," he told me through gritted teeth. And then he cleaned the whole kitchen, rightly assuming that any more contact with mole would send me into an apocalyptic fit of destruction. I eventually calmed down, ate my ravioli like a good girl, and we have decided to complete this recipe tonight. Anyone for mole?