Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Hubris in the Kitchen
In eighth grade, I was introduced to Greek tragedies. I had moved to Rhode Island three months before completing eighth grade. It was a very difficult transition to make socially. The move was made even more difficult because, in my new school, I was placed in all accelerated classes. This did not sit well with my class-mates. In New Jersey, I was accepted for the somewhat bookish scholar that I was. In Rhode Island, this quality was disdained. In retrospect, I did myself no favors by persisting in raising my hand, participating in class and having the annoying habit of always completing my assignments. When I reflect on my poor assimilation to the inner city East Providence school, I set my sights on eighth grade English. It was Oedipus Rex who may have been my undoing. You see, I understood Oedipus. I was absolutely caught up in the drama as it played out. When the teacher lectured on fatal Greek flaws, in particular, hubris, bells were ringing so loudly I thought everyone must be hearing them. Hubris, an exaggerated sense of pride, proved to be the undoing of many Greek characters. This simple stark clarity propelled me to read Agamemnon, The Odyssey, and later, Milton's Paradise Lost. Hubris, in its many forms, always proves to be the undoing of the character foolish to fall victim to it.
So, you might wonder why I would be so foolish as to congratulate myself on my superior cooking skills this afternoon. I even went so far as to wonder why I wasn’t still writing the food column for the newspaper with such a fine command of the kitchen. I had chunks of butternut squash and sliced mushrooms roasting for tomorrow night’s ravioli and butternut squash recipe. The scent of fresh sage wafted through the kitchen in all its savory freshness. Simultaneously, I managed to season and bake chicken breasts for a chicken, rice and grape salad recipe I planned for my lunch tomorrow. While waiting for those to cook, I put together Blondies and lowered the oven temperature to accommodate them. My thoughts turned to dinner tonight so I decided to cook sausage to use in sausage rolls. While the sausage cooked, I got the dough (I used ready-made) rolled out.
I set the timer and went back to my computer to look for hotel rooms. Suddenly, I smelled the Blondies. I raced to the oven, they looked alright. But I knew better. As they cooled, they would get crispy. Not the texture I wanted at all. Distracted, I didn’t turn the sausage, one side over-browned. A sharp knife took care of that. While I was removing the darkened sausage skin, I remembered the timer was no longer set. I nearly dove into the oven after the butternut squash combo. Half of the mushrooms had turned into mushroom chips. I wonder if there is any retail value in that product. I managed to dice the sausage, stuff the dough and bring dinner out of the oven without further incident. However, I could hear the Greek chorus singing the lesson I should have certainly learned by now. Pride goeth before a fall. At least dinner looks quite edible.