Very few things in the domesticated world excite me like goofy kitchen appliances do. Take, for instance, the Salad Shooter. It’s sort of the culinary equivalent of a flamethrower. Really, what man doesn’t want to own a device that slices up food and literally blasts it out? It’s the closest to hunting that I’ll ever get. Likewise, The Ronco Company is a smorgasbord of cool stuff. They make super knives, the Chop-o—Matic, and a food dehydrator so I could make my own beef jerky. That’s a whole weekend of fun right there.
“What am I doing Saturday?” I’d say, ripping a piece of beef jerky in two with my canines. “Just hanging out in the kitchen. Cutting stuff.”
It would be great. And since I’ve seen the Ronco knife commercial, I wouldn’t simply contain my cutting to food. Pennies, my friend’s wedding ring, the wall between the living room and the bathroom – you name it, I’d cut it. After all of that, exhausted from the tunneling, I would make dinner on my George Foreman Grill. In only a matter of minutes, I’d have a finely cooked steak, and, because I have a bad habit of forgetting to put the little trap down, rivers of blood and lard all over the counter.
Yes, kitchen apparatuses are great. There is a dark side, though, which is that a person needs to have a small amount of intelligence to make these things work. Nothing in this world is moron proof, not even a urinal (ever seen the floor of the men’s bathroom?), and I, on occasion, tend to prove this.
Three weeks ago, I arrived back in Korea after having traveled Europe for around two months. The flight was brutal – 12 hours from Madrid to Qatar, 10 hours in the Qatar airport, and then another 12 hours back to Korea. Upon my return, I took the subway to my girlfriend’s apartment. I was starving and she wasn’t home from work yet. To keep things simple, I bought some ramen noodles from the corner store, punched in the door code, threw my things down, and settled in for a quiet first night back.
Noodles. One would think cooking them would be no problem. Chicken, seafood, Jello, pot brownies, crystal meth – all of these things have a higher difficulty rating than cooking noodles. My girlfriend’s apartment in Seoul is super small; she doesn’t have a stove, but instead a little stovetop burner that plugs into the wall. There it was, and sitting on top of it was a pot. I put water in the pot, turned the burner on, and walked away, waiting for the water to start boiling.
What I failed to notice was that she had placed her electric pot down on top of the burner. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a pot with a thick rubber bottom that plugs into the wall, so it can boil water on its own. In other words, I was supposed to plug the pot in, and not turn the burner on. What I did was sort of like putting burgers in a George Foreman grill, and then taking the Foreman and placing it into a big giant charcoal grill.
In a matter of seconds, it seemed, the apartment was engulfed in thick, toxic rubber smoke. I couldn’t breathe. Melted rubber dripped and oozed out everywhere, coating the portable stovetop. I ran over, coughing heaving, trying my best to stop cooking the electric pot any further. It was done. At the risk of sounding like I’m exaggerating, the apartment really was covered in smoke and it stunk to high hell. I have no idea what it would take to set off the fire alarm in this place; I practically had a reenactment of Waco, Texas going on and still that thing was dead silent.
When my girlfriend got home from work, she found her boyfriend back from his travels and her apartment in a state of chaos. Poison air filled the room, and her electric pot and stovetop were gone.
“Honey, I had a little accident,” I said. “I destroyed two of your appliances cooking noodles.”
I’d forgotten how beautiful she is. That’s what I was thinking as she looked around the place in awe, the same way I’d imagine a person looks at their body after a sex change operation. “What did you do?” she asked.
It felt great to be back. I’d learned so much from traveling, including how much I care about this girl. In the long run, that was important. Killing two nifty kitchen appliances and forgetting how to boil water was, really, just a minor price that needed to be paid.