Serge always gets these grand dinner ideas. He's big into cooking. Which is nice, don't get me wrong. But he can be a little intense about it. No, that doesn't make sense. You can't be "a little intense".
He's intense about it.
There. I said it.
He gets all hopped up about one recipe or the other, googling who knows what, concocting lengthy lists of bizarre ingredients and then there's the big trip to the grocery store where he stands in front of spices and cheeses and meats - for hours - debating which products he's going to purchase.
When I witness the telltale googling and listmaking that signifies he's all hot and bothered about a recipe I brace myself. Because I know what we're in for. A cooking show starring Chef Serge and God help anything or anyone that gets in his way.
And so it was that we loaded up and set out for Walmart last weekend. Serge decided he was going to make "Serge's Magical Mediterranean Shish Kebabs" along with Baba Ganoush with Tahini and toasted pita bread.
Here we go, I thought with great trepidation, but remained quiet. Although he had handled The Great Braciole Mishap of Christmas 2010 admirably, I was concerned that he was jumping back into the saddle a bit too soon.
**Aside: I just read that last paragraph to Serge and he said "I wouldn't call it a 'mishap' because that makes it sound like I fucked up the recipe, when, in fact, the butcher fucked up the meat cut."
What I think happens is this: Serge is the star of his own cooking show, the one playing in his head. So when shit goes wrong it's a tragedy of epic proportions because surely his audience is disappointed in his cooking skillz.
But really, audience? I'm the only one here (also the only one that will be eating the meal, aside from Serge) and I'm generally wrapped up in an episode of House Hunters or 16 and Pregnant. Still, when catastrophe strikes in the kitchen, Serge is devastated.
Like I said, we were at Walmart where Serge disappeared, for what felt like hours, in search of the appropriate ingredients for his Magical Mediterranean whatever-it's-called. Once home Chef immediately set about marinating chicken, baking eggplant, cranking out the food processor, dicing veggies... Sometimes he asks me to assist, but I know better. I mutter something vague and retreat to a safe corner of the house because, man, I do not need another lesson in the "proper" way to slice and dice.
Lesson = YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.
Chef had skewers - loaded lovingly with cherry tomatoes, green peppers, red onion, mushrooms - at the ready. He dowsed the grill pan in Olive Oil and waited for it to heat up. But for some inexplicable reason, maybe because it was built in 1973, our stove began smoking.
Chef took this in stride, merely flipping on the fan in the hood of the stove and continuing to perform for the cooking show currently taking place in his head.
But the stove kept smoking.
The smoke detector, feeling left out of the mix, decided to make itself known.
"Um, a little help here?" Chef asked. I grudgingly slid my big ass off the couch, grabbed a broom and began waving it in front of the detector in an effort to get it to shut off, which it did. The stove mellowed out and, crisis averted, Chef placed his elegantly beautiful skewers on the grill.
Which promptly began to smoke more than Keith Richards at a Stones concert.
The fire detector began screaming again which set Violet to screaming.
We opened the back door and I began to wave the broom while keeping an eye on Chef, who was slowly reaching his own smoking point. At Chef's direction we brought in a box fan and pointed it in such a way that we hoped it would kindly escort the smoke out the door.
And Chef valiantly forged ahead with his grilling.
But the smoke was too much. When it appeared he may pass out from smoke inhalation and the smoke detector began shrieking for its third or fourth time, Chef slammed the stove off and his angry mumbling turned to grumbling and then....
"GODDAMMIT! THIS FUCKING STOVE! A GUY CAN'T EVEN GRILL A VEGETABLE WITHOUT---"
"Calm down... maybe if we ----"
"ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS COOK A NICE MEAL FOR MY--"
"Um, Serge..." It was at this point that I realized Serge was on fire. He was wearing a cheery red and green Christmas pot holder on his hand, the edge of which was resting on a hot burner as he gestured wildly with his other hand.
The pot holder was on fire.
Flames, y'all. Shooting high into the air. And he has no clue. That he's on fire.
Let's recap, shall we? The smoke detector is wailing. Violet too. Dogs barking. The air is thick with smoke. I'm wildly waving a broom and yelling at Serge who is shouting about how nothing ever goes right... and then I notice his right hand is a fireball. Big fire. But Serge, in full on Gordon Ramsay mode, is oblivious.
"SONOFABITCH! I TURNED OFF THE STOVE." WHERE IS ALL THIS SMOKE COMING FROM?"
"Serge... Serge? Serge! SERGE!"
Chef finally realizes the now black potholder is flaming so he runs across the kitchen, flings it into the sink, drags out the sink sprayer and douses the flames, which, at this point, have completely charred most of the potholder.