We recently had a few friends over for a BBQ, where I made my soon to be famous “One Hundred Dollars Worth Of Meat” recipe. Eli, who was not interested in even fifty cents worth of the meat I was lovingly massaging with olive oil, salt and pepper, offered to make chicken tenders for the kids because, you know, kids.
This made me very happy. I find that as he spends more time on the computer and with his pals, he has less and less time for me. And I didn’t have the foresight to shove a sports team down his throat when he was little. So cooking is kind of our thing together.
I get to yell at him about washing his hands and give him tips for proper technique like, “The 90’s Station on Pandora is the only music you should ever listen to while cooking. No Consomme has ever been a success without Pearl Jam.”
Eli got his Mise en Place all ready, washed his hands until they were raw (as instructed) and started frying up little nugs. And you know what? They were great. Sure he followed directions, but he added a little of his personality, a little creativity to the dish. In the form of salt.
About 20 minutes before the guests arrived, I was in the weeds with my C-Note Meat. Everything was way behind and not coming together as well as I’d liked.
Eli decided this was the time to quit. “I’m bored and there is too much chicken and the oil keeps burning me.”
I didn’t want to ruin this thing we have, so I told him he could bail. If only because our neighbor Callie had just arrived and I knew I could force her to do my bidding. I put her on scalding oil duty.
Scalding duty was eventually transferred to Lexa, who like all good mothers did not want to see her daughter maimed over an appetizer. This was doubly nice of her since she is a vegetarian and we can all agree chicken is the grossest of the raw meats.
Eventually I got the money meat on the table and we had a grand old time.
At one point one of the dads in attendance casually showed me a chicken tender his son had given him. It had a bite out of it, revealing a gelatinous completely uncooked center.
I tossed it into the garbage disposal and told him I’m sure it was an isolated incident. I also reminded him it’s extremely difficult to win any damages in a Salmonella lawsuit.
I then taught Eli the most important lesson of any chef: If you cook, mommy has to clean.