TALES OF THE UNCANNY
This is either a recipe embedded in a story or a story embedded in a recipe, assuming these are two different categories or maybe two different discursive genres but in any event there is a recipe and there is a story and they are connected to each other in some way.
You can sometimes find very good recipes hiding inside works of fiction. When I make haddock chowder during the summer I use the recipe from Moby Dick. You should try it, assuming you have some way of getting fresh haddock. Actually the recipe in Moby Dick is for cod chowder but let’s not get into the cod thing because it’s a very sorry affair and it's going to make us all feel very depressed. If you're interested in depressing stories about the extinction of rare, beautiful, or otherwise remarkable creatures I can send you a reading list. Anyway, it’s not much of a recipe but then making haddock chowder is not rocket science or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say it’s not bouillabaisse. Barbara Pym writes novels that have recipes but watch out because one time a caterpillar turned up in the cauliflower cheese.
Let’s call the recipe $2.20CDN Tuna Steaks which is kind of a witty idea because the $2.20CDN part has absolutely nothing to do with how much any of the recipe costs. I don’t even remember what I paid for the Tuna Steaks but I’m sure they weren’t cheap because I bought them at Maître Boucher. Nothing is cheap in that place but if you believe that you get what you pay for maybe you would want to buy Tuna Steaks there instead of a few blocks down Monkland at the Provigo which is just plain overpriced for my money. So I picked up some coriander and some pretty good-looking tomatoes for this time of year, and there were also excellent yellow wax beans which I never like calling them wax beans so when I got home I told Doris I had some yellow string beans and she agreed to snap them for me.
Here comes the recipe: Cut up tomatoes into small chunks, chop up some coriander and dice a few shallots. Heat up olive oil in a non-stick skillet and throw in the diced shallots. When they start to caramelize add the tomatoes, floop them around with the shallots and turn down the heat. You can cover the pan but only if you want to. Keep an eye on things. Now go and get the beans that Doris has snapped, put them in a marguerite and put the marguerite inside of a pot. I use a small blue Creuset casserole but you can use any sort of a pot you might like. Make sure you put some water in the pot. Also make sure your Tuna Steaks are nice and dry. Paper towels are good for accomplishing this. Turn on the gas under the Creuset casserole and keep an eye on things because you are almost ready to sear your Tuna Steaks. Put a small amount of butter and some olive oil in a skillet but not the one you are using for the tomato preparation and by the way don’t forget you’ll be adding chopped coriander to that just when all hell is breaking loose with the rest of dinner. When the butter has started to brown and it is smoking a tiny bit put in the Tuna. Do not let the second Tuna Steak slip out of your bare hand and splash a large amount of extremely hot cooking oil on the edge of your right hand.
At this point you should immediately stick the burned part of your right hand under a stream of cool running water and call for help. When Doris shows up explain to her how to finish searing the Tuna and then give her some advice about slicing up the nice rare Tuna, putting the coriander in with the tomatoes, flooping it around, putting the tomatoes on the plate and then putting the Tuna slices on top. Add the beans to your plate and go have a delicious dinner while Doris points out that burning your hand kind of takes the fun out of cooking.
You will probably not enjoy your dinner as much as you thought you might but at least you did not pass out from shock. You will notice that the blistered skin is no longer on top of the burn because the stream of cool running water was very effective in washing it away.
At the pharmacy the nice young woman pharmacist will give you some non-stick bandages and tell you to go to the CLSC tomorrow morning. The CLSC will be closed. It is Good Friday. Ponder the ironies here, and then go over to the Queen Elizabeth Health Center where the Urgent Care is open 365 days a year. The tough-talking nurse will be a woman whose job looks like an endless parade of human folly, carelessness and neglect. She will look at your hand and say “Congratulations! You have just won a trip to the surgical room.”
You will spend some time in the surgical room wondering if you need a skin graft and then a small woman from India will appear. She is the Doctor. She will ask you what happened. You will say “I burned my hand cooking.” She will be so astonished that a man was cooking the dinner she will not be able to stop talking about it. Eventually she will write you a prescription for a burn ointment containing some kind of anti-biotic but only after she asks if you have any allergies to anti-biotics. The tough-talking nurse will return, put some burn ointment on your hand, and then hand you some non-stick dressings out of the closet. These you won’t pay for but keep the freebies to yourself.
Later in the day you will fill your prescription for more burn ointment. On Saturday morning you will get a call from the lovely pharmacist who forgot to ask you if you have any allergies to anti-biotics.
Nobody will tell you how foolish you were to put the Tuna Steaks in the pan using your bare hand. Get over it. Next time use tongs. You have some tongs – right there in that hand-made ceramic pitcher sitting on the counter next to the stove.
On Sunday you will get a call from an old friend. She will say "Last night I dreamt about you and in my dream you were frying something in a pan and somehow some oil or grease or whatever splashed out of the pan and burned you. In my dream, you fainted."
I did not include a picture of my burned hand because ewww. However, I have attached a picture of a Canadian two dollar coin and two dimes which would be exactly the right size to completely cover up the wound if you thought it would do any good.