The Writer's Cramp - 5-29-20 W/C 595
“They’ll be here around 2:00. Will you be ready?” I lifted lids and checked the progress of Joanne’s meal. She had about five pots in various stages of completion scattered about the stove and countertops.
“Leave things alone. I know exactly what is what. And if you move anything, then all is lost.”
Joanne consulted a cookbook.
“You know you should never serve a new recipe to guests.”
“Oh, Mary, where’d you hear that?”
“It’s an unwritten rule. Everyone knows that.” I looked in the green pot again. “What is this?”
I got a spoon and tasted. It was like wallpaper paste, gummy with no color.
“Couscous. I thought I’d try it, since it goes with the Moroccan theme today.” Joanne smiled then continued consultations in the cookbooks. “Do you like it?”
I was lucky she couldn’t see me spitting the gelatinous mess into the garbage. “Umm. Well, like I said. You shouldn’t try out a new recipe on guests.”
“Find a bowl to put it in while I get the rest of this done.” Joanne started stirring chicken dishes, lamb kabobs, rice and apricots. She rescued flat breads from the oven. Everything was either burnt or raw, and all of it smelled of too much garlic and onion and cumin and coriander and mint.
We finally managed to get the meal on the table by 2:00. Joanne welcomed six of her friends from work. Two just happened to be from Northern Africa. That explained the meal theme I thought.
“Welcome friends. Have a seat wherever you like. Mary and I will be right back.”
Joanne grabbed my arm and pushed me to the kitchen.
“What am I going to do? That food is terrible. You were right. I can’t serve that.” Joanne looked worried. She tore off her apron and paced the floor.
“It’s not that bad,” I lied. “Those are your friends. They’ll be polite. The food is getting cold, we have to go back out.”
“Fine. But first I have to make a phone call.”
I walked back into the dining room. The guests stopped talking and turned to watch me enter. I made small talk for a few moments. Then Joanne came in and made the big announcement.
“People, someone told me I should never serve any untried recipe to my guests. I must confess I violated that rule today. Every dish on this table is a new recipe. Everything is terrible, friends. And since I value your friendship, you won’t have to eat what I fixed.”
John Wilson protested. “Now Joanne, you’re a good cook. Anything you make is fine. You don’t have to go to any big fuss for us. Cheese and crackers would be just fine. Just being here with you is fun enough.”
His wife Anita echoed his sentiment. “He’s right, Joanne. We didn’t come here just for the food. Although we were intrigued by the idea of a real Moroccan meal. We haven’t had any good food for ages. We would just love to sit and talk to you.”
After a few more moments, the doorbell rang. The local food delivery service had five bags waiting. Seems Joanne had called Cafe Morocco in town. All six guests applauded and watched as Joanne unloaded the takeout boxes onto the dining room table.
“I wanted to serve a real Moroccan meal. Seems I needed to go to the people who know how to do this, and it’s not this kitchen in Montana. So I called for reinforcements. Bon appetit, or as they say in Morocco, besseha.”