This column from the New Yorker made my day today. I almost fell off my half broken chair at work laughing my a** off.
You can read it here in the New Yorker. Or right here where I am reproducing it. Wherever it is, do read it. And tell me if you can connect with it. I can. I can totally see myself with that wet dishcloth cooling my hot face. Read on ahead to see what I am talking about!
“The cursing Mommy cooks Italian- Ian Frazier
Chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop chop clatter chop skitter crash bang—FUCK!
Stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir stir skid bang skitter bang crash—SHIT!
Hello. For those of you who don’t know me, I would like to apologize for my brief outburst there at the beginning, but I am the Cursing Mommy, and occasionally I do blurt curses, break crockery, give people the finger, and hurl objects to the floor. Well, all I can say about that is, anyone who can make a Bolognese sauce and not get a bit flustered has my heartfelt admiration! I expect we’ve seen the last of that behavior today, however, as I turn to one of my favorite dishes, a delightful and relaxing seafood risotto in the Venetian style.
Whipping up a risotto is a marvellous way to give a sense of occasion to an intimate dinner party, because of the careful timing that is required, and the pinpoint attention to detail right up to the moment of serving. If done correctly, every risotto will be unique, its own irreproducible concoction. That’s the fun of a risotto, you see! In order to pull off this feat of cookery, the chef must be completely relaxed, and to that end I like to start with a robust Chianti such as I am pouring here, forestalling any necessity of immediate repouring by using an ample glass like this snifter-type thing in which my ten-year-old recently brought home two goldfish after some kind of a project at his school. (Don’t ask me where the goldfish are.) A little more than halfway full should be fine.
At some point in your past, all of you have no doubt been under pressure to prepare a dinner party in which everything is really special and “just so.” As it happens, that is the very situation I find myself in tonight, when the party will be for only six—two other couples besides Larry and myself. The men are both clients of Larry’s, and Larry, who is as a rule somewhat worried, anxious, and useless when it comes to almost anything, has been talking rather wildly about how he’s going to be fired and we’ll end up on the street. I know, and you know, that this is another of Larry’s whiny manipulations that his mother was always dumb enough to fall for and I’m not, but, in any case, this dinner party seems to be sort of mandatory, which means the risotto had better be up to par. Now, you may ask, will Larry himself be around during the preparations for this important dinner party?
Well, actually, no. Larry will not—beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-
As you see, when I set out to make a delightful seafood risotto à la vénitienne, I always like to get off on the right foot at the very beginning by HAVING THE FUCKING GODDAM SMOKE DETECTOR GO OFF!!! Fucking goddam piece of useless stupid garbage—what could have set it off? The steam from the fucking dishwasher? beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-
Thankfully, this is nothing I can’t deal with, because I have learned in past encounters with this lousy piece-of-shit smoke detector that although I cannot turn the fucking thing off once it starts, because it is the ridiculous battery-less kind or something, all I have to do is stand on a chair, remove it from its ceiling-attachment thing, and take it down to the basement, as you observe me doing now. Then I simply place the smoke detector here in the corner, and bury it under an enormous heap of bedding near where my son has his TV. beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-
Ah, that’s better. . . . No, it’s not. Because, as I stand here once again in the kitchen, I notice that the stupid fucking smoke detector can still be heard. The sound is faint, but definitely still quite annoying, and enough to distract me, or any skilled cook, from the concentration necessary to pull off a high-maintenance dish like risotto. Luckily, though, I have just the solution for that: my Three Tenors CD, which I was planning to play anyway! I’ll put on the Three Tenors, let them take me to sunny Sicily or wherever the hell, and drown the fucking smoke detector the hell out. Larry’s new CD player, which I have already plugged into the kitchen outlet here—is there a CD already in it? why won’t it open?—if I push this—no—fucking goddam stupid Larry can’t even get a CD player that works—beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-beep-
All right—you know what I am going to do? I’m going to drain off the last little bit that’s left in my snifter, pour myself a nice big refill, imagine a lovely and relaxing tropical vacation scene, and scream “FUCK!” at the top of my lungs. Then I am going to go back down to the basement, get one of Larry’s hammers, and “disable,” as they say, the smoke detector. Meanwhile, I will leave some onions browning in a skillet here on the left front burner so as to have a head start on my risotto when I return.
beep beep beep beep beep CRASH SMASH CRUNCH POP SMASH beep
With that little detour behind us, we can now proceed to the preparation of the lovely bits of fresh seafood—the shrimp, squid, and snow crab—which we are going to add to the risotto when the time is right. I begin by giving the seafood a thorough cold-water rinse, like so, and then—beep be…e…e…p, bip—
What was that? bee bee beep beep, bip, b’b’b’b’, beeeeeeee. . . .
Those of you who have followed this column for any length of time know that once in a while, at moments of extreme frustration, the Cursing Mommy gets so totally fucking fed up that she starts to scream curses, say what a stupid fuckhead that fuck Dick Cheney was, and generally let off a good cursing out all around. But now the Cursing Mommy is older and wiser, and she’s not going to do that today . . . unless . . . what’s that smell? Was that stupid smoke detector trying to tell me something? JESUS CHRIST, THE FUCKING BURNER UNDER THE ONIONS HAS SET THE PAPER TOWELS ON FIRE! OH, GOOD GOD! THE WHOLE FUCKING ROLL IS GOING UP! NOW THE CURTAINS ARE ALSO ON FIRE!! Oh, where’s that fire extinguisher? Behind the basement door? Yes! Thank God! But what is this pathetic drizzle it’s spraying? AHH! I’LL HAVE TO SMASH THE FIRE OUT WITH THE EXTINGUISHER ITSELF! smash smash smash shatter smash crash crush shatter smash
After a vigorous session in the kitchen, I often like to relax and recharge by taking what I call a “mini vacation,” as I’m doing now. I simply recline on my back on the kitchen floor with my feet in the bottom tier of my cookbook shelves, my head propped against the useless spent fire extinguisher, and a clean dish towel, moistened with cool water, across my forehead and eyes.
Then I drift away in my mind to some far-off place and take some deep breaths to expel the remaining acrid and possibly toxic smoke from my lungs. Let Larry deal with this shit when he gets home. He can call Gianelli’s for takeout and put it on whichever one of our credit cards still works. I’m not even going to think about it. I would look forward to a future when we will be living in our car if I thought it meant that then I wouldn’t have to cook, but you know what? I will still have to cook. . . . O.K., I know people are coming. In just a minute I’m going to get up. beep…beep…beep…beep…beep
Oh, what a fucking terrible day this has been.
Look for the Cursing Mommy’s next column, “Get Out of My Fucking Lane, You Fuck: Defensive Driving Tips from the Cursing Mommy,” which could be along pretty soon, depending. ♦”
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