Out of the kitchen...


My dad held a belief that when a relationship comes to an end you let it go. He insisted no good can come from staying friendly with an ex. On a memorable occasion, some time in 1988, I remember thinking that I wish I had shared his advice with my girlfriend.

She invited her ex for dinner to our tiny, narrow apartment. The kitchen was at one end and entry (and, significantly, exit) to it was through a single narrow door. It was old and poorly equipped. An electric hob with only a single working ring sat on top of an ancient stove, a deep enamel sink with taps that dripped to its right, what cabinets were there had long since lost their doors and the linoleum that partially covered the floor dated back to the 50s. But we were young and our careers were in their infancy and money was tight and we were blind to squalor. And love kept us warm at night when the heating didn’t work.

Anyway, back to the dinner. So, there I was, staking a claim to alpha male status, thinking what better way to do this than through my culinary genius. I needed the perfect meal — something that would resolutely tell him there was no way back to her heart, at least not through her stomach. So chilli and rice followed by sesame-seed-covered (Chinese style) toffee-apple fritters. Well balanced I thought.

The chilli was a breeze. Those cans of kidney beans covered in thick sauce were dynamite with a pound of mince. The fritters though, this was new territory and altogether more challenging.

I made a batter, cut my apples and filled a saucepan to the top with vegetable oil. When the oil was smoking hot, I dropped in a handful of coated fruit from a height so as not to burn my fingers. Big mistake. Vesuvius-like, the pan erupted. Boiling oil hit the electric ring, a spark or two and suddenly the whole thing was alight. My girlfriend and her ex were in the doorway. I screamed, and lifted the blazing pan off the stove and, with nowhere to go, put it on the floor in the middle of the kitchen to keep the flames as far away from the highly flammable cabinets and the low ceiling as possible. It took less than a second for the lino to go up.

Heroically, I grabbed a jug of water and threw it on the flames. Another big mistake, obviously. (Chemistry never was my thing.) So there I am, penned against an outside wall, wondering if the sink will take my weight, separated from the love of my life and her ex boyfriend by ten feet flames. It’s not looking good. In what I imagined were the last moments of my life, I found myself thinking of the headlines in tomorrow’s paper and how to keep my girlfriend out of jail. Then, just as I felt I was about to cry, the other guy (who, incidentally and thankfully, is really, really smart) grabbed some towels, doused them in water and threw them on the fire. The flames were extinguished. He looked up. “Don’t you know about oil, fire, water?” he said.

Later that night, after he left, she turned to me and wryly smiled. “That went well,” she said. “If you can’t stand the heat…”

“…get a deep fryer.” I suggested.

Re: Out of the kitchen...

Re: Out of the kitchen...

It’s not a good tandem. Water is not the solution for burning oil.