This weekend was an explosive reminder of why this blog is called, “Keep Mary out of the Kitchen”.
My husband had had a hectic week, so I volunteered to make dinner. Our college-aged children texted from their respective jobs, “Black beans and chicken burritos!”
This was one of my crowd-pleasers.
Except there was just one lone chicken breast in the meat drawer. I decided to improvise. My best friend always raves about fish tacos. I rummaged through my frozen foods and found two slim fillets of hake.
I chopped onions and peppers, added black beans and salsa. I added the chicken and fish. The mixture smelled too fishy.
I added salsa. For two small pieces of fish, the smell was strong, so I emptied the rest of my jar of salsa verde in the pan.
It simmered and the fish smell swam to the top. I used my favorite food camouflage, French’s mustard. I considered squirting some into the pan, but the offending odor encouraged me to unscrew the mustard top and let a palm-size of bright yellow plop into the pan.
I heard my husband in the garage and I stirred the mess quickly to disguise anything that perhaps should not be in the mix. The mustard mask worked.
“Gracias, I am so tired! I appreciate you making dinner tonight.”
I smiled angelically.
“Go get changed and clean up. We’ll have dinner when everyone gets home.”
As if conjured, both our children arrived.
“Black bean and chicken burritos – yes!”
My heart swelled in pride until its edges hit my deception.
“They’ll never know.” I reassured myself.
“Go get changed…” As soon as they left, I dug in the fridge to see what else might mask the fish – some habanero sauce. I dumped a bit in the bubbling pan.
Dinner ready, each of us made our burritos and filled them with the mess in the pan.
My husband was the first to detect my deceit.
“What is this, love? Is it different?”
I thought of lying but was worn out from dressing the fish up as spicy chicken.
“Do they go together?”
My daughter joined in.
“I thought I smelled something funny.”
My son stayed loyal, “It tastes fine.” He took a second bite, “Calm down both of you. It’s good. Thank you, Mama.”
My daughter now joined her brother.
“It’s really just the smell….”
We were watching a movie when sudden smells told us that something truly had been off with dinner. Then, my son’s stomach rumbled in a way that was too familiar to his recent bout of flu.
Keep me out of the kitchen, indeed!