Last week, after finishing the Joy of Cooking biography, I was inspired to cook with gusto. I stirred up a pot of chili and planned to serve it “street food” style over bags of Frito corn chips. It had been a while since I’d had the corn chip, invented by Texas entrepreneur Charles Elmer Doolin in the 1930’s. I remember them being salty, greasy, and corny.
The chili was good, but the Fritos were, sadly, dull and listless.
I was disappointed. Handy was disappointed; we even made an impromptu batch of chocolate cookies with crushed Frito dust thrown in.
They were nothing to blog about.
Nevertheless, this minor kitchen disappointment wouldn’t keep me down for long. In my internet travels researching Joy of Cooking, I’d found an interesting food blog, dedicated to promoting the ideals behind the long-popular gastronomic tome. The recipe was “Little Acorn Squash Macaroni & Cheese” and although the blog post began with a lengthy discourse about non-food topics, I decided to “coexist” with the opinions and drama of the blog writer because the ingredients sounded copacetic and who doesn’t like some kind of macaroni and cheese topped with buttery bread crumbs?
It was a soupy mess of squash, leeks, and ricotta cheese, saved only by the delicious crumbs on top. Handy put on a good front and even ate seconds.
“Want some leftovers for breakfast?”
He took his “to go” box with him and I went to bed with a sink full of mustard-yellow dishes. Oh, the infamy of wasted time and wasted ingredients.
I woke up during the early morning hours with my head split in two; a squash-shaped shiv in my brain and my stomach churning from side to side. I needed coffee, but I couldn’t get out of bed. I texted Handy.
“Do you feel ok? Do you have an upset stomach?”
I asked for coffee and within 30 minutes Handy arrived with a delicious steaming cup. I propped my pathetic self on the pillows and he placed the cup of life-giving coffee into my hands. I sipped carefully. We talked about the possibility of a casserole causing such dire affliction and then Handy described how he had lifted the lid of the leftover box earlier that morning.
As he did, my stomach began churning again and I leaned over and barfed into the trash can. There is no need to say more. It was a day of food infamy.
It’s one thing to write about food; it’s quite another to prepare delicious food. One does not necessarily lead to the other. The shining moment in the whole food fiasco was waking up later in the day and finding the bland bag of Fritos was just the tonic I needed to restore my equilibrium.