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Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's Cooking?

I’ve had it the same way every Tuesday night since I got married.”

“Sunday for me. And it’s always the same. Rub it with butter, turn on the heat, and wait til it’s done.”

“If they can show me one new thing to do with a chicken, it’ll be worth the money.” I sighed, peering again into the refrigerator. I’m hanging on the door hoping the Food Fairy has arrived with a creative new dish for supper. My two sisters are there to fight over the wishbone.

“That’s it. Let’s go to the cooking show. What could it hurt? Besides, we don’t have time to cook before it starts, so we’ll have to eat out.”

An hour later, Laudy, Quirky, and I, blotting bleu cheese and bacon bits from our blouses, surrendered three bucks each and filed into our seats. The woman in charge of the cooking show resembled a test pilot instead of a test cook. With that microphone headset she wore I expected to hear “Cheese manned and ready, sir!” any minute. I couldn’t imagine measuring flour in front of 500 women. At home, I can’t tolerate even one living person near me as I jerk open drawers and slam doors looking for the quarter cup. I was there as much to see the kind of person who possessed such bravado as I was to get free food samples. Okay, truthfully I was there for the free food, but there were other important things as well, like discovering new ways to put the “hot” into hot wings and entering the raffle for the free mixer.

The stage was set up with a small kitchen that looked like it was delivered on the back of a pickup truck from Toys R Us. A woman browned chicken with more enthusiasm than most people generally reserve for sex. Another one created a sugar free peach dessert that made an audience full of mid-life belly-roll ladies yearn to rush the stage like it was a Tom Jones concert. Still another showed us more creative things to do with cream soup than I could do with a tub of gelatin and a turkey baster. A woman next to me, who wore diamonds like the rest of us wear polka dots, tucked coupons she found on the floor into her goody bag. Laudy scribbled her phone number on the back of an old recipe for round steak she found in her pocketbook and attempted to sling it on stage.

At the end of the show, we twittered like sparrows in springtime as the hostesses awarded door prizes. A woman in front of me won a kitchen gadget that I had lived 40 years without knowledge of and would probably live my next 40 without need for. Envy covered me like ivy on an outhouse. A middle aged woman, whose striped blouse was tucked into blue polyester pants just under her armpits, won two wooden spoons. It looked like all the good stuff was going first.

Finally, slow as the last hour of work before a three-day weekend, the last name came out of the basket. I was still checking my ticket when Quirky, wearing a smug expression like it matched her pumps and purse, pushed past me on the way to claim her prize. She won an autographed cookbook full of recipes for ground beef. The unfairness of the universe consumed me.

“I thought we were here for the chicken,” I hissed as the traitor squeezed past.

“Oh, rub it with butter,” she smirked. “Hamburger. Now that’s where the action is.”

1 comment:

Carolyn Erickson said...

Yeah, well I just LOVE my two new wooden spoons!