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Failed Culinary Adventures: Diary of a Madman

 

You find the strangest things at garage sales. Some are just useless junk, sold for coin. Others are sad, like clearly-loved childhood toys and keepsakes. Sometimes you even find rather personal items. I did see a binder once of recipe cards. They were all hand-written and dated. The penmanship was clear, the cards were neatly arranged, and the binder had the sort of splits and wear one would expect from something much used. The family only wanted 50 cents for it and was emphatic that I had to take the recipes as well as the binder. I thought that very strange, the vehemence with which they pressed the binder upon me, and I thought it still stranger that I heard the seller mutter what could either have been a prayer or a curse my way as I departed. I now understand them all too well, and I am certain that the line between prayers and imprecations may sometimes be blurry for sound reasons.

You see, I had given the recipes only the most cursory of glances, and even at that only the ones towards the front, which seemed of the sort you would find in most any collection — stews, casseroles, sauces, desserts, breads, etc. I did not pay any particular mind to the ingredients called forth, much less to the misbegotten associations, combinations, and indeed thralldom or enslavement of so many unfortunate foods. Contained in those plastic-pocketed pages of 4×6 notecards were what I can only describe as alchemic incantations that, though they might not summon the demons up from hell, might reasonably regurgitate the contents of the digestive tract. You see, I had purchased the cookbook of a madman.

Moreover, the recipe cards were arranged in a chronological sequence of experimental meals, and the author had gone so far as to keep a sort of running diary on the backs of these cards wherein he initially recorded how the food was received, and later how it affected his marriage, his children, and his ever-more-rapidly deteriorating grasp of reality. While I was in no mood to attempt any re-creation of his experiments, I felt strangely compelled to read through the entire saga until it’s rather desperate conclusion. What follows are excerpts of some of the recipe titles and diary entries — for the sake of all I will spare you the recipes themselves and, in any case, the recipe names should convey more than enough of the grotesquerie for you to glean the depths of culinary abuse involved.

November 25, 19XX – Tuna-Noodle Turkey

… and it’s hardly my fault that Eunice bought so many cans of tuna in the first place! I didn’t have time to make the cornbread for the stuffing, all I could find was a box of egg noodles and all this tuna. I don’t see why they complained so much, normally they like tuna just fine. At least Eunice’s mother left early instead of arguing.

December 31, 19XX – Corsu Marzu Salad Dressing

… the suitcase I used, however, is likely done-for. Eunice won’t let me bring it into the house. But I think she’ll forgive me when I demo this recipe next week for XXXXX. They seemed pretty interested when I told them I had the next thing after Bleu Cheese dressing. The kids refused to try it, but then they’ve never liked salads in the first place. Eunice just poked at it all through dinner, insisting that it was “really pungent”. I finally just stared at her until she took a bite. The bite was followed by a shriek, though, and she broke the salad bowl by beating it to death with a flyswatter.

July 22, 19XX – Garlic Wine

I did technically do as she asked, and use her mother’s meatloaf recipe, and her aunt’s green bean recipe, but she didn’t specify the drink, and that was when I sprung it on her. “You remember that month where you made me wear plastic bags over my feet whenever I took my shoes off? Well, now you know why!” I uncorked it and poured her a sample. I was ecstatic at first, thinking her tears were of joy. The stitches on my forehead from the wine glass prove otherwise.

October 31, 19XX – The Everlasting Cod-stopper

I’m really heartsick at the reception this one got. Jr. loved Willy Wonka, and I was certain he’d want a special candy all his own. And I made enough for the whole neighborhood for Halloween. I just they had been more careful in returning them – they could have left them on the front porch instead of piling them in the living room by way of the window. It’ll be a dickens of a time cleaning the glass shards off so I can re-use them with the soup.

February 14, 19XX – Country Fried Eclairs

… so you would think she’d at least show some appreciation of my efforts, and see that I do listen to her! She’s the one who said “I think ranch dressing could improve almost anything” as she practically drowned the Herringburger Helper in it last week, and desserts should not be an exception. I’ll admit that the cod liver oil had enough of an aroma that I should have done the frying outside (the lawsuit and restraining order over the duck incident aside), but I’m still offended that she had to actually cut the things open and inspect them instead of just trying a bite and enjoying them like a normal person. “You filled these with… salad dressing? And what the hell is this on top?” I’m still trying to sponge the Marmite out of my shirt from where they hit me.

March 31, 19XX – Deviled Food Cake

… and so hours of work have been wasted, and she has actually installed a steel door for the kitchen. I didn’t think she’d go that far, how I was supposed to know that everyone at the dinner party was allergic to something I’d used? Explains why they wanted to jump right to desert, at least. I probably should have explained up front, though, that the icing was in fact paprika and garlic flavored, not strawberry, pink color notwithstanding, but they all looked so hungry after skipping the main course of Lutefisk-kebobs and limburger bisque.

May 1, 19XX – Scrambled Eggs

… with the puncture wounds finally healing from where she pinned my hands to the table with fish forks. Everything hinges on this one. She has already changed the locks on the door and sent the kids to her mother’s house. “Just make scrambled eggs for breakfast,” she hissed last night, “like a normal human being. Just try. You used to be able to do it. Do that for me again and maybe I will let you stay.” I asked her “bacon too? toast?” “Fine. But they better be normal too. This is your last chance.” I am so excited about this! I think she’ll love the squid ink jelly on the toast, it looks just like grape. And I’m certain she’ll love the…. [the rest of this card was burned away]

I tried to go back to that house who had sold me the book, to ask after the rest of the story, but by the time I had finished reading through, they had moved. The new owners had no contact information, but they seemed like nice people. I’ve invited them to a dinner party to welcome them to the neighborhood. I have a great dessert idea, and I think they’ll love it.


Thanks to @midge, @she, @amyschley, and my wife for “feeding” me ideas for this one.

Published in Humor
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There are 36 comments.

  1. 1
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  1. Thatcher
    She

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    • #1
    • January 12, 2019 at 6:04 am
    • 7 likes
  2. Thatcher

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    It’s probably Arahant’s long-lost binder.

    • #2
    • January 12, 2019 at 6:10 am
    • 12 likes
  3. Member

    Is this a true story? If not, you wrote a great series of skits – SNL needs help – maybe they’ll get some ideas from it – this is very funny!

    • #3
    • January 12, 2019 at 6:40 am
    • 7 likes
  4. Member

    This is only funny if it is complete fantasy and fiction. In which case

    H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S.

    • #4
    • January 12, 2019 at 6:46 am
    • 4 likes
  5. Thatcher

    Skip, I’m laughing so hard that I can barely-swallow the preventative dose of bismuth! :-D

    • #5
    • January 12, 2019 at 8:03 am
    • 9 likes
  6. Thatcher
    She

    I see you did not include a mention of my tried-and-true, family favorite recipe for “mackerel ice-cream,” the recipe card for which was lost decades ago, but which is passed from generation to generation, and which lives on in the hearts of our many cats.

    • #6
    • January 12, 2019 at 8:09 am
    • 17 likes
  7. Member

    I can certainly see the “She” in this.

    Good story, as usual.

    • #7
    • January 12, 2019 at 9:41 am
    • 6 likes
  8. Inactive

    Thanks. I laughed all the way through. I laughed so loud it woke my wife up. Not good. Maybe I’ll cook her breakfast.

    • #8
    • January 12, 2019 at 10:06 am
    • 10 likes
  9. Member

    All who were involved in this, you have outdone yourselves from anything else ever posted on Ricochet. Tears are running down my face from laughter.

    • #9
    • January 12, 2019 at 10:21 am
    • 7 likes
  10. Thatcher
    She

    Al French, sad sack (View Comment):

    I can certainly see the “She” in this.

    Good story, as usual.

    Oh, my role was negligible, I assure you. Our @skipsul has a gift for this sort of thing.

    • #10
    • January 12, 2019 at 10:21 am
    • 6 likes
  11. Member

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    Percival (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    It’s probably Arahant’s long-lost binder.

    Just for that, you’re both invited to supper. It’s a command performance.

    • #11
    • January 12, 2019 at 10:46 am
    • 11 likes
  12. Thatcher

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    Percival (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    It’s probably Arahant’s long-lost binder.

    Just for that, you’re both invited to supper. It’s a command performance.

    Will Eunice be there?

    • #12
    • January 12, 2019 at 10:58 am
    • 6 likes
  13. Thatcher

    Percival (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    Percival (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    @arahant, surely you’ve tried some of these?

    It’s probably Arahant’s long-lost binder.

    Just for that, you’re both invited to supper. It’s a command performance.

    Will Eunice be there?

    She’ll bring Mama along, I’ll bet…

    • #13
    • January 12, 2019 at 11:00 am
    • 5 likes
  14. Inactive

    Arahant (View Comment):
    Just for that, you’re both invited to supper. It’s a command performance.

    Let the punishment eat the crime, eh?

    • #14
    • January 12, 2019 at 11:31 am
    • 7 likes
  15. Coolidge

    So funny.

    • #15
    • January 12, 2019 at 3:11 pm
    • 4 likes
  16. Thatcher

    SergeantMajorJiggs (View Comment):

    So funny.

    Does it remind you of leftovers at Chow, SgtMajor?

    • #16
    • January 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm
    • 3 likes
  17. Member

    Will there be a nice Chianti?

     

    • #17
    • January 12, 2019 at 5:23 pm
    • 6 likes
  18. Member

    OMG. One of the funniest things I have read on Ricochet.

    • #18
    • January 12, 2019 at 5:40 pm
    • 5 likes
  19. Inactive

    Susan in Seattle (View Comment):
    Will there be a nice Chianti?

    “Tan wine. I made it myself. It’s the only thing that goes with cream of rutabaga soup.” — from the cartoonization of TV show Cannon from MAD Magazine c. 1971

    • #19
    • January 12, 2019 at 5:51 pm
    • 7 likes
  20. Thatcher

    Susan in Seattle (View Comment):

    Will there be a nice Chianti?

    Don’t forget the fava beans!

     

    • #20
    • January 12, 2019 at 5:54 pm
    • 8 likes
  21. Podcaster

    True story: Not everyone is cut out to be a cook. I have a coworker whose mother was so bad that for years he wouldn’t eat at restaurants that advertised “home cooking.”

    She was an avowed health nut and one year for his birthday she baked him a sauerkraut cake. It was so bad his father gave the whole thing to the dog to play with – and he took it out and buried it in the backyard.

    • #21
    • January 12, 2019 at 6:55 pm
    • 12 likes
  22. Member

    And tell me, what ‘rrrrr ya drinkin’?

    • #22
    • January 12, 2019 at 7:07 pm
    • 4 likes
  23. Moderator
    SkipSul Post author

    GiveMeLiberty (View Comment):

    And tell me, what ‘rrrrr ya drinkin’?

    Well, the garlic wine all met with an unfortunate end involving Superfund issues, but based on @ejhill ‘s sauerkraut cake, I’m thinking I might be able to parlay that into a decent cabbage gin and tonic.

    • #23
    • January 12, 2019 at 7:54 pm
    • 8 likes
  24. Member

    Should put warnings on these things! The physical reaction to the recipes and the rising guffaws are tough on a constitution trying or beat a three day bug.

    • #24
    • January 12, 2019 at 9:03 pm
    • 7 likes
  25. Thatcher
    She

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    GiveMeLiberty (View Comment):

    And tell me, what ‘rrrrr ya drinkin’?

    Well, the garlic wine all met with an unfortunate end involving Superfund issues, but based on @ejhill ‘s sauerkraut cake, I’m thinking I might be able to parlay that into a decent cabbage gin and tonic.

    There are a few abominable spirits from some of the former Soviet Republics which could probably give “cabbage gin” a run for its money, I think.

    • #25
    • January 12, 2019 at 9:06 pm
    • 7 likes
  26. Thatcher

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Is this a true story? If not, you wrote a great series of skits – SNL needs help – maybe they’ll get some ideas from it – this is very funny!

    2019 IS SO BEYOND FUNNY!!!! NOT ONE OF THOSE SAID “ORANGE MAN BAD!!!!”

    • #26
    • January 12, 2019 at 9:19 pm
    • 5 likes
  27. Contributor

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    SergeantMajorJiggs (View Comment):

    So funny.

    Does it remind you of leftovers at Chow, SgtMajor?

    Maybe the gelatinous contents of a first generation MRE “entree,” eaten cold. I think the same mad genius was working for Natick. There was a reason any long forgotten cache of old C-ration cans found in the field was a treasure.

    • #27
    • January 12, 2019 at 11:28 pm
    • 8 likes
  28. Member

    Skipsul is such a versatile writer that it defies comprehension. He can take you from sacred icons to wonderful cooking, to wry anecdotes about everyday life and to car restoration, and then when you’re relaxed, laughing and your guard is down, he’ll write something that’s profoundly moving. 

    Getting to know someone like him second-hand through his writing is unique to our times. If this were 1959, maybe we’d get to know him through the Letters to the Editor section of Road and Track, Popular Science, or Industrial Electronics. If you were in his parish, you’d know him directly, as a charismatic leader. But chances are good that he wouldn’t have been around, staying up at one in the morning to answer your telegrams, the email of an earlier century. 

    • #28
    • January 13, 2019 at 1:48 am
    • 6 likes
  29. Member

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Thanks. I laughed all the way through. I laughed so loud it woke my wife up. Not good. Maybe I’ll cook her breakfast.

    I’d stay away from the squid ink jelly.

    • #29
    • January 13, 2019 at 4:15 am
    • 4 likes
  30. Coolidge

    Nanda Panjandrum (View Comment):

    SergeantMajorJiggs (View Comment):

    So funny.

    Does it remind you of leftovers at Chow, SgtMajor?

    Too right.

    • #30
    • January 13, 2019 at 5:36 am
    • 2 likes
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