Are You KIDDING Me With This???

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Sahara Has Nothing On Us

Okay, so here's the thing about McMama: she is an excellent baker. She makes the most exquisitely beautiful wedding cakes. And her cookies are unbelievably adorable. Her pies not only taste incredible, they are practically works of art. There is no question. When it comes to baking, McMama is the master. When it comes to cooking, on the other hand....well, let's just say that for the most part, she leaves it up to McPapa.

Unfortunately, this strategy doesn't always work. The last time Turtle and I visited, McPapa was out of town for a couple of days on business. And not wanting to eat out every night, there were a few evenings during which McMama was responsible for putting dinner on the table. On one particular night, she decided to show off her culinary expertise by throwing some chicken in the rotisserie (Ronco is a beautiful thing, apparently). To be fair, she had told Oscar's sister to take the chicken out of the freezer earlier in the day to get it thawed before it started turning on the spit, and Oscar's sister conveniently forgot to do so. So the chicken needed a little microwaveable assistance to get it to the point where you could use it for more than just a hockey puck. And not even the microwave could do a perfect job, so McMama decided to give it just a little bit more time in the rotisserie to take care of the extra thawing. So you could reasonably argue that what happened with that chicken was not completely McMama's fault.

But, as you might imagine, the little extra time in the rotisserie not only took care of the extra thawing, it also took care of any extra juices that may have been present in the chicken. It has become an inside joke in the family that not even a full container of applesauce could save that chicken. It was drier than dry. It was so dry, we became dehydrated just looking at it. McMama, the brilliant baker, had destroyed that chicken beyond all recognition.

Now, being the kind of person who just does not let these things go, I have never missed an opportunity to needle McMama about that poor desiccated chicken. If she tells me that she cooked dinner the night before, I ask if there's any applesauce left in the surrounding counties. When she comes to visit us, I try to put chicken on the menu often and when she asks if she can help, I shoo her away before her presence causes all the juices in the meal to mysteriously dry up. I. Do. Not. Let. It. Go. I am such a bitch that way.

But even I have my limits. The other day, McMama was telling me about how she and McPapa have recently rediscovered the joys of the pressure cooker. She was bragging about how she has not made a dry chicken since that fateful day with the rotisserie. And she assured me that the pork chops she was going to put in the pressure cooker that night would be the most moist pork chops I had ever had. So I was greatly anticipating dinner that evening, particularly when the savory aromas of the chops browning in the cooker started wafting through the house. I might have even drooled for a little bit.

When we sat down to dinner, I was eagerly anticipating a meal so succulent, it would more than do justice to McMama's considerable talents in the kitchen. I took my first bite. I was perplexed; the pork chop was dry. But I kept my mouth shut. It was a piece on the end, I reasoned. The middle would surely be juicier. I kept eating. It didn't get any better. The meat had great flavor but I had to keep my water nearby to help me get through the meal. Still, I said nothing. I was trying so hard to be good. I don't mind needling McMama in a good natured way, but I love her and don't really want her to feel bad about the fact that every time she cooks for me, I can't help but be confused at how someone so amazing with a cake could be so completely hopeless with a piece of meat.

So I had every intention of never saying a word. In fact, I had almost completely consumed my chop when McPapa looked up from his plate and asked, "Is your meat dry?" Glad that he had been the one to say something, I chuckled with relief. I still wasn't going to give her a hard time, but at least I didn't have to suffer in silence any more. McMama, meanwhile, looked surprised. Apparently, her chop was just fine. McPapa and I seemed to be the only ones trudging through the desert-like landscape of our dinner plates.

Personally, I kind of wonder if she dried out my pork chop on purpose, as a sort of revenge for my needling her all this time for the chicken that only applesauce could render remotely edible. But she seemed so intent on proving that the chicken was a fluke, so I'm not quite sure. Either way, I now know the rules to being a guest at McMama's house. If McMama is BAKING, then loosen the belt a few notches. If McMama is COOKING, get takeout or you're going hungry.


At July 05, 2006 2:34 PM, Blogger Nate said...

One of my sisters is a terrible cook but loves to play at it - the family much prefers our home for the holidays - not that they love me more, but my wife can cook!!

One year the Thanksgiving turkey was so dry that it was formally declared inedible and removed from the table. What family legends are made of...


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