Recipe for Dis­as­ter

My wife can­not cook—which ab­so­lutely does not keep her from try­ing

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents - BY DAVID THORNE FROM 27BSLASH6.COM | IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY STEVEN TWIGG

My wife can’t cook—but she keeps try­ing. DAVID THORNE FROM 27BSLASH6.COM

HOLLY CAN­NOT COOK. She is ca­pa­ble of the process of cook­ing, but my wife can­not cook, in the same way that an oc­to­pus can­not ride a bike. It has enough arms to reach the ped­als and han­dle­bars, but the re­sult will rarely be a suc­cess­ful jour­ney from A to B.

I once looked over Holly’s shoul­der to dis­cover her crum­bling Alka-Seltzer tablets onto a meal she was pre­par­ing

be­cause “they are pretty salty and we ran out of salt.”

An­other time, I walked into the kitchen to find Holly mak­ing toast. I gen­er­ally feel safe eat­ing toast that Holly has made be­cause it re­quires min­i­mal in­gre­di­ents to for­get, re­place or ex­per­i­ment with. But this toast was a bit thin and soggy.

“What bread is this?” I asked.

“It’s the same bread we al­ways have,” Holly said, point­ing to the bag.

“I didn’t even know we had any brea— Oh my God!” I ex­claimed. “It has a best-by date of Jan­uary 2009.”

“It was in the freezer,” Holly said. “The best-by date doesn’t count if the prod­uct is frozen.”

“I’m fairly sure there is a limit,” I re­sponded, hold­ing up a slice of bread con­sist­ing al­most en­tirely of frost.

“No, there isn’t,” she replied. “I saw a show once where sci­en­tists found a mam­moth frozen in ice for mil­lions of years. They thawed it out, cooked it and ate it.”

I men­tion all this be­cause re­cently Holly stated that she was mak­ing na­chos for din­ner, so I was sur­prised to be pre­sented with a bowl and spoon an hour later.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“The na­chos were a bit runny, so I added a few cups of wa­ter,” she replied. “It’s na­cho soup.”

“What are these bits in it?” I asked.

“They’re the chips.” Holly sipped a spoon­ful of na­chos and made a drawnout “Mm­m­mmm” noise. “I put it in the blender, so there shouldn’t be big bits.” “I’m send­ing out for pizza,” I said. “You never ap­pre­ci­ate any­thing I do,” replied Holly.

“That’s not true,” I said. “I ap­pre­ci­ate ev­ery­thing you do. You’re a beau­ti­ful, kind, thought­ful per­son. But if I or­dered a ham­burger at McDon­ald’s and they handed it to me in a cup with a straw, say­ing, ‘Sorry, it was a bit runny, so we threw it in the blender and added two cups of wa­ter—it’s Big Mac soup,’ I would as­sume there was some­thing wrong with the restau­rant staff. And if they asked me, ‘Do you want fries with that?’ I surely wouldn’t reply, ‘Yes, mix them in.’”

“It would prob­a­bly be good,” re­sponded Holly. “But you would never know be­cause you wouldn’t taste it. Even if the guy at McDon­ald’s spent an hour in the kitchen mak­ing it for you and burned his thumb on a saucepan.”

“Fine,” I re­lented, tak­ing a spoon­ful and rais­ing it to my mouth. “I’ll taste it.” Sip­ping the brown and yel­low puree, I felt an in­tense burn­ing sen­sa­tion not un­like con­sum­ing a mouth­ful of red ants. I swal­lowed with con­sid­er­able ef­fort as my eyes be­gan to wa­ter, and said, “It’s a bit spicy.”

“Yes,” said Holly. “We were out of cumin, so I used cayenne in­stead.”

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