Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
My name is Robbo and I’m an eeedjit.
It is a custom at Port Swiller Manor that ol’ Robbo cooks the family dinners on weekends, in part because I enjoy doing it, in part because of the unspoken understanding that I am a better cook than Mrs. R. This is not boasting or belittling, merely a product of circumstances: Both of my parents cooked (the Mothe is a superb chef and the Old Gentleman could hold his own) while neither of Mrs. R’s does (heating up pre-made meals from Stew Leonard’s does not count). As a result, I picked up a basic understanding of kitcheny things in my misspent yoot and she simply didn’t. (And let me say here that I am somewhat Sam Gamgee-like in my knowledge: Within my own 20 mile geographical equivalent limited range, I am very competent, but I cheerfully acknowledge that I am ignorant of almost everything beyond it.)
Anyhoo, in honor of Eldest’s return from college, this evening I was cooking up a shrimp and prosciutto pasta dish to which she is much addicted, but which we rarely have, given that it comes out to about eleventy-billion calories per forkful and leaves one wreaking of garlic and shallots for about 48 hours.
Because Mrs. R has professed to vegetarianism since the last time we had this dish, I decided to sauté the prosciutto separately from the other ingredients in order that everyone could enjoy it one way or another. To this end, I set out a separate pan of olive oil on one of the back burners to heat up.
What with my family’s infuriating habit of vanishing in the hour before din-dins, leaving me to deal with things by myself, ol’ Robbo once again gave his usual impression of Basil Fawlty, simultaneously trying to cook the main dish, prep the salad, set the table, set out appropriate condiments, and get drinks. As I scrambled about, I lost track of the need to do up the proshute.
Suddenly remembering that the oil was more than hot and that the pasta and main sauce were about ready to go, I grabbed the bowl of cut up proshute and flung it into the pan.
That, as they say, tore it.
The proshute hit the pan, the pan splash hot oil onto the gas burner, and up she went with a most impressive shwoooosh!
The pan was on one of the back burners, by the bye, which means it was directly in front of the splashboard and directly under the cabinet overhang. They were rayther quickly engulfed in flame.
It’s an interesting thing: Ol’ Robbo has never really stopped to think about whether he is brave or not. The number of times I’ve had to face a real instantaneous crisis decision in my life, I’m happy to say, has been really rayther small. Well, for what it’s worth, in this instance (without thinking but not without some pretty lurid language) I immediately reached into the fireball and bare-handedly snatched the pan away from the burner.
The fire quickly went down and out, the remaining oil in the pan sloshed about a bit over the range and adjoining counter. I didn’t even get singed.
Crisis averted. Laus Deo.
Of course, I had a mess on my hands: olive oil everywhere and a blackened backsplash and cabinet door. Windex (that Wonder Product) seems to have done the job for the vast majority of the discoloration. To the extent that Mrs. R chooses to quibble about the remaining scorching, it is my intent to argue that such things give a kitchen real character (as opposed to those pristine ones featured in the snootier real-estate magazines in which you know to the very depth of your being that nobody, nobody, has ever really cooked anything).
Oh, for what it’s worth, everyone seemed to like the meal.
UPDATE: “Reeking of garlic and shallots” of course, not “wreaking”. You know, like the famous scene in “Casablanca” where Peter Lorre is nailed by Captain Renault’s men and screams at Bogart, “Reek! Help me! Reeeeeeeeeeek!!!”