Hell’s Kitchen

My husband and I both cook, but when it is his turn, he transforms into Gordon Ramsay and runs the show like an episode from Hell’s Kitchen.

Last evening’s episode started simple enough.  He asked if I wanted to eat this chayote dish.  Visions of me chowing down on this vegetable mélange on a bed of steaming hot white rice made all my taste buds stand up and cheer. Yes, yes, yes, I would love that for dinner, thank you very much.  Okay, then come and help me slice the veggies, says Gordon Ramsay aka my husband. Darn.  He set a trap and I walked right into it!

I grudgingly tore myself away from my laptop and trudged very slowly towards him, giving him ample chance to notice and perhaps say, “You look tired, my dear.  Maybe you should go back to your computer and recharge. I’ll do everything.”  No such luck.  He handed me a knife and half a dozen chayote pieces.  Man, I should have suggested pizza!  “Peel the chayote and cut them into small pieces.”  Should have ordered pizza.  “You are not peeling it right.  There’s still some skin left.”   Here we go again.  Gordon Ramsay in action.  Pizza!  “You need to cut them in smaller pieces.”  You mean I have to re-slice everything?  Pizza!  Finally, all the chayote has been dismembered into bite-sized pieces the way Le Cordon Bleu chef wants it. The chayote got its revenge by squirting its slimy juice all over me.  Try as I can to wash it off, it coats my hand like a second skin.  I slink back to my corner and dream of pizza.

“The green beans need to be sliced.”  Sigh!  He hasn’t forgotten me.  I slide back into my role as lowly kitchen help.  I get ready to cut the ends of the green beans with my knife when Chef Gordon steps in.  “Use the kitchen scissors and cut them just three pieces at a time so they will look pretty.”  The kitchen help finally rebelled.  Nope.  I am cutting them the way I intend to cut them in the first place.  Lined up bunches at a time.  On the chopping block.  Literally.  Chop one end.  Then the other.  Then slice them in half. Viola.  And don’t tell me they have to be cut even.  My stomach will not know the difference, I assure you.  If I am doing the cutting, I will cut them the way I want to.  Or you can hire another help.  I will wholeheartedly hand over my apron to someone else.

Enough said.  I go back to my corner.  Just when I am comfortably ensconced in my chair and my butt found the perfect nesting spot, Gordon Ramsay yells “You forgot the carrots!”  Oh, no.  Not again.  Can we skip the carrots this time?  What?  The dish is not the same without carrots?  Figures.   Where is pizza when you need one?  I unglue my butt and check the fridge to take out the carrots.  Yes!  They are pre-sliced!  Thank God for modern conveniences.  I show them to Chef Gordon.  He has no choice but to approve.  Yeyyyy.  I’m free!!!

As I was leaving the kitchen, I see my daughter Melanie has problems of her own.  Her dad has assigned her the simple task of peeling the shrimp.  Not so simple for someone who quit eating beef years ago as a protest for the inhumane slaughter of cows.  (“Mom, they are hung upside down and their throats are slit open!” ” Um, that’s why they call it slaughter, my dear.”)  As she is peeling the skin, I hear her stream of consciousness dialogue peppered with little exclamations of disgust.  “Gross, gross, gross, gross, gross.  This is disgusting.  They feel like dead fingers.  Ewwwww.  This black line here looks like poop.  Gross.  Ugghhhh!  I just peeled the skin off its body.  Gross.  Is this shrimp pregnant!  Disgusting!”  I feel for the shrimp.  Even at its deathbed, it is hounded by scandal.  Melanie finally finishes the task.  The physical and verbal abuse of the shrimp is over.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  Never in culinary history has the peeling of shrimp been so traumatic for both shrimp and peeler!

We are not done yet.  Ronnie orders us to peel the itlog maalat ( salted eggs) for tomorrow’s side dish.  What is another simple task becomes a combination episode of Jeopardy and Andrew Zimmern’s Strange and Bizarre Foods, thanks to Melanie.

“What kind of egg is this?”  I confess I am not sure if it’s chicken or duck but I remember the kids had a pet duck named Delilah who turned out to be a he so I know duck is not gonna be a popular answer for this one.  (Btw, HE remained Delilah for the remainder of his mortal life.)

“Chicken,” I answered.

“How do they salt these eggs?”.

“They dunk the eggs in a pail of salted water and leave it there so the flavor will soak through.”  That’s from my husband.  I am not sure if that’s how it really works but I’ll let this one slide.

“Why did they color this pink or magenta or whatever color this is?”

“To differentiate them from the other eggs.”  Another gem from my hubby who has suddenly become the expert on salted eggs.

“That was dumb of them to do that. Now that color is all over my hands!”

I look down at my hands.  She’s right.  The darn pink or magenta or whatever color dye they use is all over my hands, too.  So between the chayote slime and the egg dye, my hands are a real piece of work.  Why didn’t I just suggest pizza?

Finally, my husband announces,  “Dinner is served.”  All the frustration melts away with those magic words.  I sit down to savor my chayote dish.  My compensation for all my hard labor…   All is right with the world again.

My husband asks me how I like it.  Between mouthfuls, I cannot answer.  I just nod my head and give him the thumbs up.  Finally, my mouth is empty and I can talk.  Can I have some more,  I ask, with all the charm I can muster.  My husband piles on a heaping serving on my plate.  I smile.  I feel like a laborer being paid a day’s wages with food.  Pizza?  What pizza?  I’ll take this chayote dish over pizza anytime…  

Hmm, unless it’s Hawaiian flavor.  On thin crust.   With extra cheese…  Hey, where’s that coupon for the pizza place again? Hello?  Where’s everybody?  I have been abandoned in my time of need.  Can you believe that!  

In my grief, I open the freezer for comfort.  Rocky Road!   I make myself a bowl while I contemplate my miserable existence.   As I dig into this bed of ice cream, marshmallow and nuts, I cannot help but ask:  Why does life have to be so darn hard?

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mari anjeli
    May 11, 2010 @ 22:08:25

    Hahaha! A fun read! 😀 I’m thinking I’d be like this if my husband (future husband, whatever) would transform into Gordon Ramsay.

    Haha!

    Reply

  2. Harold Cabahug
    May 12, 2010 @ 00:19:39

    Emms, this piece is so funny and so accurate, that it could probably describe the kitchens of some of the few people I know well, including mine. Alegre gyud kaau imong story-telling, mura pud ko spectator naka witness sa ongoings sa inyong kusina…definitely another best-seller!

    Reply

  3. balot
    May 12, 2010 @ 11:39:21

    sooooooooo hilarious!!!! enjoyed every line..if only you live by..i will be to the rescue nimo and Melanie..HEHEHE..

    Reply

  4. Harold Cabahug
    May 19, 2010 @ 11:46:08

    Emma, are you calling for help or calling for Humba (aka 911) or both? 🙂

    As for the reality show, sure, I’m in as a backstage hand…

    Reply

  5. Trackback: King of The Grill ( Real Men Don’t Use Recipes) | A Writer on the Sly

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