Where's the damn stove?

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Since when has “Remove the external plastic wrap, place in microwave for 7 ½-minutes, and let stand for 2-minutes before serving,” become cooking? It isn’t; it’s reading directions. Following these directions and then placing the food on nice chinaware along with attractive garnishing, and serving a roomful of guests isn’t cooking either. It’s attractive presentation, but it’s not cooking.


            Taking credit for the perceived culinary expertise, on the other hand, has many benefits, especially for single men. For one thing, good presentation skills go a long way toward convincing women that a guy’s in touch with his feminine side, which, from what I’ve been able to surmise, increases the chances of getting laid.


            Over the past week, I’ve gone though several grocery stores. I didn’t need anything, actually. Well, that’s not true. I did need something, but while I was there, I decided to write about something different. This divine inspiration came to me as I made my way through the refrigeration and frozen food sections of the stores.


            In the days of my youth, if a man couldn’t cook, didn’t know anyone—defined as “a woman”—who was willing to do it for him, and couldn’t afford daily trips to restaurants, he starved to death. This is precisely what happened to old man Wassaman who lived up the street from me back then.


            Oh sure, when they found him dead, he was surrounded by empty gin bottles. And, yes, it’s true that the pathologist accidentally dropped the deceased’s liver during the autopsy and it cracked the floor tiles. It’s also true that the medical examiner listed the cause of death as—I can’t make out some of these terms—“something acute something something liver something failure.”


            All of this was typical medical mumbo jumbo, as far as I was concerned. The medical examiner had to write something official looking. Alcohol was a secondary factor; he drank to ease the pain! The fact is that the real reason he died was that the man didn’t have a clue when it came to cooking. For God’s sake, people, this was BEFORE microwavable foods, mainly because there were no microwave ovens.


            Yes, there were TV dinners but a man had to know how to get that aluminum foil off the container. Even if he could accomplish this, he had to know: one, what a stove was, two, where the stove was located, and three, how to use it. For most men in those days, knowing these things was not exactly a foregone conclusion! Um, to listen to many women today, nothing has changed.


            My mother could cook anything. She never threw ANYTHING away because she could use it for either soup or some kind of stew later on, sometimes, MUCH later on. I remember some of that soup and all of those stews. They’re why I developed a fondness for the taste of cardboard. It doesn’t taste that bad, very similar to McDonalds, actually. But, McDonalds didn’t arrive until years later. Even now, though, all bets are off if they outlaw ketchup.


            My father couldn’t boil water. The only reason he could find the kitchen was that he was afraid of starving to death. Also, the kitchen was where he bellowed like a wounded seal if we didn’t have mashed potatoes and gravy at EVERY DAMN meal. The potatoes didn’t come from a box. They had to be hand mashed, using a potato masher. This was the only way to make sure there were lots of big lumps.


            And, the gravy didn’t come from a can, either. She made it from the drippings of whatever she was cooking with the potatoes. I think it was meat, but I couldn’t tell for sure because my father liked it shoe leather tough. For sure, though, whatever it was would eventually show up in one of her soups or stews later on.


            To this day, I gag at the thought of mashed potatoes. As much as I loved my father, I admit to fantasizing about tripping him down the stairs over those freakin’ mashed potatoes.


            One good peculiarity remains with me because of my parents. They both liked—Horrors, call child protective services!—REAL butter. I do, too! As usual, back in those days, there was no such thing as margarine as we know it today. Either people ate real butter or something called “Oleo”, a crappy-tasting precursor to, “I can’t believe it’s not butter”. Even the modern margarines such as this one taste terrible. The only reason they call it, “I can’t believe it’s not butter” is because, “Eeewww, what the hell is this crap” wouldn’t sell much margarine.


            As I looked over all of the stuff in the refrigerated/frozen food sections, I did not find a single item that a man could not “cook” in a microwave. However, he MUST, be able to read simple directions, as well as be able to work a microwave timer. Never again need a man starve to death. Then again, maybe not! “Simple” is a relative term.


            I have no idea why I did it because purchasing some usually entails taking out a 2nd mortgage, I took a trip down the cereal isle, where I found the “Pop Tarts.” Did you know that they have cooking instructions on the sides of the boxes? Well, they do. Here they are. First, “remove contents from paper pouch.” Second, “Place in toaster or toaster oven.” Third, “Do not over heat.”


            The fact that these instructions are there does not upset me. But, ladies, if you meet a guy who NEEDS these instructions or, even worse, does not understand these instructions, RUN away quickly!


            Next Thursday is Thanksgiving. Millions of people will be on the road. Have a great holiday; stuff yourselves, even. Stay safe and don’t drink and drive, though. If you’re going to kill yourself or someone else, do it in a worthwhile endeavor, such as getting to one of those Black Friday bargains!


            I’ll be back next week. Hopefully the subscriber emails will go out on time this week. The company I use had a power failure that affected the notifications the past two weeks. The notification emails are scheduled to hit inboxes by 1AM each Monday morning. We’ll see.


Joseph Walther is a freelance writer and publisher of The True Facts. Copyright laws apply to all material on this site. Send your comments. Just click here.

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