We decided to go to our local town and have a sandwich for lunch as well as do a bit of shopping yesterday. Because I had my writers group meeting that day too and have to leave the house early in order to get to Jeanne's, I eat supper before Larry so always prepare the dinner a bit earlier and leave some for him to heat up later. It's about the only time I cook, really. Feeling like something tasty, I browned some chicken breasts in a pot, added mushrooms and onions, oregano and white wine--lashings and lashings of white wine--and then let it simmer. I was practically drunk with the fumes of wine wafting into the study as I labored at my writing. I was really looking forward to having this with brown rice on the side. Yummy!
At noon, Larry came back from the other house, peered into the pot and said,
"Where are the carrots? There's no carrots in here. My Chicken Caban recipe has carrots."
Shit, I'd forgot the damned carrots. Without a word, I went to the fridge, rummaged and found an entire pack of peeled baby carrots and chucked them into the pot.
He turned up the heat and we started to chat about our trip to Europe that we're organizing at the moment.
"Hey, let's go and get that sandwich cos' I'm hungry," I said.
I went out to the car. A minute later he came out and we drove to town, which takes about twenty-five minutes because we live in the Pennsylvanian sticks.
Just as we entered the tacky part of town, the part where all the car dealerships with their huge American flags and tinsel bunting lay, I said, "Did you turn off the Chicken Caban?"
No response for a moment. "You know, I can't remember."
"I think we'd better go back."
"What? let's get a sandwich first. I'm sure you did turn it off and just can't remember."
"No, let's go back now."
I turned in the yard of a tacky car dealership and started home, fuming because I was now ravenous--the sort of ravenous that's exacerbated by the fact you're being denied food.
"Hurry," he said.
"I don't think we want to argue with that," I said, nodding to the cement truck ahead.
"Go. You've got room to pass."
I ignored him.
Twenty minutes later, we drove up the driveway and he told me to stay in the car because he was sure he'd turned it off. Five minutes passed and still no sign of him. Another two minutes and I went inside. The stench of burnt chicken and a wall of smoke vied for my attention. he was nowhere to be seen, but the pot was in the sink, its base black as tar and thick with chicken skin that had merged with the metal to make some form of strange amalgam.
He came in from the back garden carrying the lid.
Well, there goes supper," I said.
"We just got here on time. Another five or ten minutes and the walls and ceiling would have been shelacked in grease."
I shuddered to think of the hours we'd have had to spend cleaning the kitchen cupboards, etc. And because we'd opened the two main doors before we'd left, the fire alarms hadn't gone off.
A little sad about what I would not be having with my brown rice that evening, I picked up a carrot that still looked the correct color and tasted it. It was acrid, tasted of burnt steel, smoke and chicken, the bitter taste imprinting permanently on my taste buds.
"All I have to say is you wash the pot..." I said. "...if it's salvageable."