When I was about ten, my uncle Thomas opened up a pizzeria across town from my house – it was his dream. And because I loved him , it became my dream. I would race there every day after school and help him make pizzas, and for me it was the best part of my childhood. I got to spin the dough like those Italian bakers with the swirly mustaches, my uncle would die of laughter each and every time it flopped back onto my face. Which was quite often.
But as much as I would help him out, he would never send out the pizzas I made, even if I made the ones according to the order. And hey – in retrospect that’s a bad way to run a business, because really I was wasting a lot of product if you think about it. Back to my previous complaint, he never sent them out to the customers, which I had always found strange.
He would eat a slice and smile really big, he always told me that they were great. Then he’d put it in the fridge and it was never seen again. Looking back, he probably tossed it out the minute I left the place, which was a good move on his part considering the level of tantrum I was capable of throwing as a ten year old, and a tantrum would most definitely had been thrown if I had seen my masterpiece in the garbage can.
One day I’d asked him about it, but he’d always had some excuse. “The people wouldn’t be able to handle such flavor !’, ‘I want it for myself !’, ‘It’s too hot right now, let’s have it cool off.’” Always something. A nice way to break it to a kid that she can’t cook at all without actually telling her.
So really, my fiasco at the cook-off is not my fault. It’s uncle Thomas’ fault actually. As a result of his kind hearted dishonesty, I went on for literal years thinking I was this cooking god that no one could handle. I know what you’re thinking though, “why didn’t anyone tell her in all her seventeen years of existence that her tuna melts taste like rotten garbanzo beans?” And I’ll tell you why. It’s because my family is too nice.
Which is by far the dumbest issue to have. Normally, teenagers get angry when their families are strict or something like that, but no – I had to get cursed with the nicest family in all of Utah.
My family went through eight years of eating food I made them, all because they were too scared of hurting me. They endured undercooked, slimy platters. Each one served up with a cocky grin on my young, freckled face. I almost feel bad, but then I remember the humiliation their kindness just cost me and I’m suddenly guilt free.
Now remember – I spent about seven years thinking Gordon Ramsey was nothing compared to me, so when I found out my county was hosting a massive cook-off, I couldn’t resist. My family did everything in their power to stop me. My grandma asked me to visit her in the hospital. My uncle Thomas begged me to help him in the kitchens. I turned them down so that I could share my gifts with the county. It was what they deserved.
I entered that contest with a huge grin on my face and determination glinting in my eye. When I got to the warehouse they’d set up for the competition and I saw that trophy I felt my heart swell with what could only be described as belonging. In my heart knew it would be mine. But it seemed that the universe had other plans. I’d entered with Tomato-Curry Poached Eggs. It was a dish I hadn’t made before, but I had figured that with my talents it would be no big deal. Which , even if I had been good would have been a stupid move all together. Nevertheless, I was off to a rocky start.
You see, I’m not the most … steady handed person. So I did accidentally cut my finger once or twice, but besides that, I had gotten the onions had gotten out of the way in about seven minutes. I say that proudly, given my personal best time for slicing onions is about seventeen minutes.
I never said I was fast.
But then I was betrayed by my least favorite fruit. The tomato. I had washed them beforehand, but maybe too well. The red suckers were slippery, so much so that when I tried cutting it, it slipped from my hand. I tried to catch it , but instead it ended but bouncing up. The tomato splattered against my face, ow.
As it turns out, tomatoes are not exactly soft enough to easily slice into when wet, but not firm enough that they won’t smush themselves all over you when provoked. It’s actually kind of selfish that they won’t pick which one to be – firm or soft, very inconsiderate .
After that, I had to find a way to make the dish with one less tomato than required, not a good thing to do. The flavor wasn’t right – not that the extra tomato would have made a difference. But it almost did, it was like for the first time I was tasting my own medicine, or poison if we’re technical here. By that time though, it was too late. I felt the shame rise in me as I watched the judges eat my meal. The disgust on their faces was enough to make me want to run home like the ten year old I was when I thought I could cook. The judges looked betrayed , I felt betrayed. It was one massive betrayal on account of my uncle refusing to admit to me that I couldn’t even cook if the gods themselves blessed me with cooking capabilities.
This is the reason I , Tanner Mackleroy, will never cook again.