I can cook. While I’ll never open my own restaurant or be TV pretty (an apparent requirement of anyone who can cook these days), I can make a decent, filling meal that probably won’t kill you. I don’t cook fancy – I see no need to inject my meat with anything; I prefer it the other way around – but I do what I do well.
Most of the time, that is.
I’ve only very rarely had any major cooking disasters worth writing about, like that time I got salsa on the ceiling, or my devil-may-care attitude towards expiry dates, or my experimentation with foods that were best prepared before the Reagan era. Three questionable meals out of thousands isn’t that bad a record, actually. Maybe I should rethink that career in the culinary arts.
At least, I would have before last Monday night, when I inadvertently made a simple meal that turned out so toxic it gave me wicked, unrelenting heartburn for almost 36 hours.
We heartily groced last week and stocked up on many fresh items, but completely forgot to restock the staples. Since we were out of a lot of things, I opted to marinate some chicken filets in some random jerk sauce I found in the cupboard. We often eat jerked things (albeit a different flavour of jerk), so I didn’t think anything of it – it was either this unknown jerk, or plain baked chicken strips that taste like bird. No thank you.
My first sign that something was amiss should have been when I poured the sauce onto the chicken: it looked like baby poop, or at least what I imagine baby poop to look like since there is nothing I would rather stay far, far away from than babies, poop, and baby poop. I was mildly startled but forged bravely on, since I was hungry and had no other options. I prepped some potato cubes, slapped the whole thing in a baking pan, and made with the cooking for half an hour or so. When it was all done, I took it out of the oven (it looked even more like poop at this point), let it cool, and dug in.
That was my second mistake.
It’s a well known fact that I love black pepper more than any one person should love black pepper, but this .. this “sauce” – was comprised of nothing but the vilest, meanest, most morally corrupt black pepper to ever have been forged in the very hell fires of Satan’s colon; a fiery mixture of despair and suffering and that annoying little tickle you get at the back of your throat when you inhale cat hair. It peeled paint off the walls. It tasted like burning. It called forth an unholy army of the damned to tap dance on my flavour buds. Eyes? They watered. I’ve never been tear gassed, but I am imagining it feels quite the same as my insides did after one tiny swallow of this devil tar.
The sauce I used was SO INCREDIBLY SPICY that I put all the chicken in a colander and rinsed the fuck out of the cooked chicken to get rid of as much sauce as I could. Even then the sad watery chicken was almost too peppery to digest, but I am not one to waste food so I ate my dinner without (too much) complaint and was immediately rewarded with Epic Heartburn for my troubles. It lasted all night (making it difficult to sleep) and into the morning (making it difficult to properly enjoy my morning wood); continuing unabated until early today (and even then I awoke in discomfort that could not be attributed to my over-full bladder) when I could finally declare myself more or less over it.
I don’t fail at cooking often, but when I do, it’s almost ER-worthy.
Perhaps someday I will tell you about the Fruit Milk .. but the Fiery Pepper Chicken of Death is enough humiliation for today.