Thursday, February 10, 2011

When Recipes Go Wrong

I'm lucky. Just about everyone I love adores food and can cook pretty well, and I live in a land of plenty. I'm fortunate, then, to be surrounded by lots of food, and lots of people who can prepare it well, and who like to do so. It's rare enough for a meal to be truly mediocre - and even more rare for one to go terribly, nightmarishly wrong.

But it does happen, now and again.

I've cooked noodles beyond the point at which it was morally acceptable to eat them, they were so floppy and spineless and mushy. And my dear spouse, who loves to fiddle around with random ingredients in random ways (and usually comes up with orgasmic flavors from the most unexpected combinations), once cooked a hot dish with feta cheese in it that smelled so bad I couldn't eat it, much less share a kitchen with it. It literally made me gag.

My dad, who can slow-roast a chicken over hot coals until it sweats crisp, buttery, smoke-laced goodness, has the unfortunate tendency to overcook vegetables. He's also been known to drop or spill dishes in spectacular style at family dinners: the story of him showering his grandfather with raspberry compote at a Thanksgiving affair many years ago is a family classic.

My mom had a couple of recipe disasters that are still the backbone of cautionary tales against bad cuisine at family gatherings. Bless her, she had one of the best recipes for oven-fried chicken that I've ever had in my life... but her pot roast still gives me nightmares. And I don't mean the kind of nightmare that you wake up and shake off, I mean the kind that you wake up from screaming, in a cold sweat, and you're afraid to go to sleep the rest of the night. I have no idea why it was so bad - maybe it was the cut of meat? Maybe it was the seasoning she used on it? I have no idea.

Her meatloaf was never much of a success either, and is probably the reason why I don't really like meatloaf to this day. She tried everything she could to make it appealing, but when she made her Meatloaf Surprise... zombies rose from their graves around the city, the seventh seal was broken, and an unholy wrath was unleashed upon our dinner table the likes of which even god has never seen. What was the surprise? She baked a dill pickle into the middle of the meatloaf.

Needless to say, that was the last meatloaf mom ever made.

Even good cooks can fuck up a meal. Feel free to post your cooking disasters in the comments section.


  1. I once tried to make stir-fried top ramen with american cheese, canned olives and Krab. It was um... unfit for mammals.

  2. Oh my. That sounds... words defy how that sounds. Dreadful, certainly.

    I had a boyfriend once in my poor college days who made Top Ramen with dried cuttlefish and matzoh balls. I don't think that's what people have in mind when they think of "fusion cuisine"...