Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or how hard you work, you end up cooking a crappy meal.

I was rushed. I tried to do too much in too little time. The thing is, I knew there was no way I was going to wind up with tender pulled pork in 3 1/2 hours but… I was cocky. I thought I had a plan. I thought I could go against the laws of physics, the very laws of nature.

I had a tight schedule, one that got even more crunched due to events beyond my control. Yet I still thought I could pull it off. I had time, I told myself, to make lemon curd, make tart dough, let that rest, go shopping, marinate the pork, make the mac and cheese, blind-bake the tart dough, let that cool, get the pork in the oven and finish the tart. Sure, I could totally do all of that in 5 hours – with one oven. What the hell was I thinking?

I should’ve seen the signs. Pulled pork was, after all, not my first choice. If I had made spaghetti and meatballs like I had originally planned, I guarantee I wouldn’t have spent the night apologizing to my dinner guests while a hunk of pork jerky sat untouched on the cutting board. I couldn’t even bring myself to serve it. It tasted fine, once you gnawed through it, but I certainly didn’t have the jaw strength to eat more than a few pieces and I certainly couldn’t, in good conscience, send my guests home with TMJ issues.

It’s rare that I don’t deliver. So when I feel a meal is sub-par (or worse, inedible), it’s difficult to recover from. However, it happens to the best of us. Some days, no matter how hard you try, you’re just not on your game.

Fine, I said, once “dinner” was served. Folks seemed happy and OK with the pathetic offering of edible pieces of pork I served as an amuse bouche and a main course of mac and cheese. Salad and mac and cheese isn’t an awful dinner… it’s just not the one I had planned.  But at least there’s lemon tart, I consoled myself, halfway through the meal. Crap! I forgot to take it out of the fridge.

As I stood there trying to serve the tart that was so stuck to the pan I considered asking my husband to fetch me a hammer and chisel, I realized there was no way in hell I was going to salvage this meal. It was an unmitigated disaster. But as we all stood over the tart pan, forks in hand, trying desperately to hack bites off, I gave in to the absurdity of it all. I had tried… and isn’t that what matters? That, the company, the conversation and the opportunity to spend time with friends.

Pork jerky, anyone?

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3 thoughts on “When Bad Food Happens To Good Cooks

  1. You know, you’re not being cocky. You were really ambitious with this and it was a matter of timing. I hate when things go wrong for me in the kitchen, especially when it’s a meal my wife and I are looking forward to, which is all of them! My wife is the same way, she’ll really beat herself up. And she shouldn’t. Now, if only I could take my own advice!

    1. Right? So much easier said than done. Although, I do like the bonding experience of picking over something in the kitchen trying to get something edible out of it. 🙂

  2. I believe I was one of the dinner guests that evening, and it was not nearly as bad as you write…but I have much lower standards than you do probably. Let’s not forget that when I cooked for you the first time I met you and knew nothing of your culinary background, I served you green beans that were truly blackened on the grill (nothing green about them), really dry grilled chicken and salad from a bag that was on sale because it was already turning bad. And yes the conversation was great and we really enjoyed the company…so much so we are coming back soon!!!!

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