I have been called a child before, but I have never been called Julia Childs. The kitchen (insert spooky music), has remained a room and an area as frightening to me as the ingredients in Tasty Delite. But as gesture of true love, I attempted to make M a home cooked meal. With no recipe cards neatly organized in a file like my mother, I made the one thing I know how to make: Fake Fried Chicken.
It was a concoction we discovered in college when the “freshman fifteen” still remained well into junior year. Crushed Corn Flakes, seasoning and chicken breasts dipped in egg whites, baked in the oven for 30 minutes, this mixture vaguely resembled Kentucky Fried minus the fat. I gathered the ingredients at Food Emporium and headed home to cook. Chief, panting and making his presence known, stood next to me waiting for crumbs of Corn Flakes to fall to the floor like tiny drops of golden light.
“I’ll be home by 6,” M texted me when I told him I was COOKING dinner. “You are cooking?” he replied, stunned into silence which could be heard throughout cyberspace. Most likely he ran to his office vending machine, hording Snickers and pretzels to consume before he left work. I flittered around the kitchen, organizing the ingredients, adapting the recipe by adding some Jack Daniels BBQ sauce to the crushed fake fried for some pizzaz and zing. Feeling extra domesticated, I grabbed the vacuum and some Lysol and continued on a cleaning campaign, lifting Chief’s legs and his tail as the vacuum sucked up all of his extra fur which had piled beneath it. All I was missing was the June Cleaver haircut and a son named Beaver.
The oven chimed signaling the chicken was done. I stabbed a piece with a fork, inspecting the insides for signs on pink. Putting the chicken to my lips, I blew on it to cool it down and then tasted my dish. DELICIOUS! Ok, Union Square Café isn’t going to make me a sous chef anytime soon and Bobby Flay isn’t emailing for the recipe, but this tasted fabulous. I couldn’t wait to hear the accolades from M.
At 6, M was not home.
At 6:30, M was still not home.
At, 7, the oven had cooled, the chicken was cold and M was still not home.
The chicken may have been cold, but I was burning hot with anger when M finally walked in the door well after 8pm. I had morphed into an angry housewife. I marinated in my own displeasure as the chicken marinated in the BBQ sauce. “Where were you? I had this nice dinner planned,” I fumed, pointing at the table which was set with fresh flowers and candles.
“Sorry, I got hung up at work,” he said loosening his tie and sitting down. I nuked the chicken in the mircrowave and set it down in front of M. “Ok, I’m glad you’re home. Try this. I made this amazing chicken.”
He looked at the plate in front of him. His fear apparent, he cut into a piece the way a five year old child lifts a fork-full of spinach to his pursed lips. I waited for his reaction as he masticated. “So?”
He swallowed. “I don’t like it. I hate fried food and I don’t like sweet with my entrée. This BBQ sauce is too zesty.” An entire afternoon of labor, of blood, sweat and corn flakes down the garbage disposal.
“You can pretend you like it. You could lie to me. Women do it all the time. They fake orgasms for the benefit of the man. You can fake liking it,” I said as I removed the plate from the table and tossed it into the sink.
The least he could have done was pretended it tasted like mana from heaven, licked his lips, begged for more. He could have descreetly spit it into a napkin under the table and fed the ABC (already-been-chewed)chunks to Chief. That's true love. Women do it all the time. "Yes honey, I love that perfume you got me. Stetson for Women is one of my favorites." "Oh wow, I always have dreamed of marabou fur pink nighty. It is very classy." As a gender we are more genteel. Concerned more about making our loved on smile, than smiling ourselves.
M ordered delivery and ate in front of the TV. I retired my apron, threw out the recipe and gave Chief the leftovers. While Fake Fried Chicken won’t be on the menu again, I am hoping fake sentiment will be for any other recipes I try.