There Is No Joy In Cooking

Yesterday’s attempt at culinary bliss wound up with me, in tears, staring at undercooked, egg-coated chicken clinging – with every fiber of its too-pink being – to what turned out not to be a non-stick pan. Pan – destroyed. Chicken – lethal. Integrity – lost. I should have photographed the event. I did everything right. I followed the recipe to a tee. I prepped. I diced what I was supposed to dice. I preheated. I tossed, marinated and oiled. I separated the egg whites. But I still fucked it up.

I suppose there’s a life lesson in there. You can follow directions. Do as you’re told. Do “all the right things” and still not get the result you want.

But as I stared at the milky-brown diced chicken carcass I had no interest in life lessons. I just wanted to cry, please. Thanks. Angry tears. Because…

  • This wasn’t fair. I’d done everything right!
  • I screwed up, yet again.
  • The chicken was not just ugly looking and not fried to a golden crisp. It was undercooked. It could’ve killed someone.
  • This was supposed to be a divine occasion during which I communed with Julia Child, Ina Garten and Alice Waters – not Gordon Ramsay and the Devil.
  • A chicken had died for this disaster.
  • All the stupid reviewers of this stupid recipe said how easy this dish was to cook. And I couldn’t even get the damn chicken off the pan. It’s still soaking.
  • I wanted to be able to do this so bad!

I’ll try again someday. Maybe not tonight. I think I’ll drink tonight and eat out. But I wanted to share this cooking catastrophe with the World Wide Web because I think there is a serious lack of honesty about culinary incompetency.

It is not easy. All the cooking websites, shows and recipes I see out there show a perfect, Martha Stewart-esque person cooking in a perfect sunlit kitchen – probably in the Hamptons – producing perfectly fried chicken on the first try by combining perfectly chopped, stirred and whisked ingredients. They open the oven and pull out their immaculate conception with such pride. They wave the aroma into their freshly de-haired nostrils. They serve dinner – with the greatest of ease – to their 2.5 beautiful Ivy League-educated children and devoted husband, George Clooney.

Compared to me, these women (typically) are like Victoria’s Secret models. Aliens. Sent to this earth to make me feel inadequate.

I’m just here to stand up for the culinarily-challenged, cowering in shame after tossing yet another over-cooked, over-salted and otherwise inedible chunk of meat in the garbage. Just because we can’t cook, doesn’t mean we’re lesser beings. Just because we can’t do it now, doesn’t mean we can’t do it eventually. And just because we may never do it perfectly, we can try. We can pretend not to be shocked when the food is edible. We can smile and laugh when we fuck up. And we can order Chinese better than anyone.

So cook on, my friends. And remember it’s the journey, not the plated destination.

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