Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Make me apologize
Last night we had friends for dinner. Late afternoon, I made a strawberry soup for dessert. It’s mostly a glorified creamy smoothie with a sprig of mint and a sliced strawberry for garnish. Wonderful with field-picked strawberries. Most excellent served with a piece of dark chocolate. As I was washing out the blender I pressed a squirt of dish soap which normally sprays into the sink, but for some reason, it backfired across the counter and showered the individual servings with a bit of Dawn. I was very vexed and called Sandy in for a consult. I had already skimmed the surfaces and tasted one spoonful that had a drop of invisible soap, and if it wasn’t so hard to get down there, I would have writhed on the floor. (WHY do these things happen to me? Or do they to you, too, and you just don’t say?) Sandy is a nurse practitioner living in NZ, not to hold her moving away against her - she’s an awesome cook, too. She test-tasted, and said “Ahhhh, it’s good. It would be a shame to throw this. Serve it. No one will know.” I did, and later she was the only one to get a soap droplet in her serving.
Anita and I collaborated to make spring rolls – that delicious Thai appetizer, which to our unpracticed hands was like gluing double-stick tape on wet grass. With each one, they became more coherent until we had a tray of twenty. Ours held fresh mint, sprouts, avocado, shavings of beef, thin sticks of cucumber and CILANTRO in a paper thin rice wrapper, dipped in a peanut sauce - they are a perfect hot-day food. The combination of crunchy, soft, spicy, mild, chilled is… how did they think of this? In deference to Denis we made three without cilantro. He isn’t just phobic about this herb, which - I remind him - is used in all sorts of ethnic cuisine; he is aggressively hostile, claiming he can’t even stand the smell of it.
That came up during dinner, because we needed to mention that the ones pointed “that way” belonged to Denis who hates cilantro. I point this out, as if it’s a fault. Denis has so few I delight in obvious weakness. Among our guests was Larry, a physician. Each July he returns to Rochester from Mayo Clinic Scottsdale to do hospital service for a month. He’s a font of weird facts and arcane observations and declared that the hatred of cilantro is due to the lack of a certain inherited enzyme that leaves the inheritee thinking they’ve eaten soap or something disgustingly rotten. Now Denis demands I apologize for years of sneaking cilantro into things.
So here it is: Denis, I’m sorry for making fun of you for something you can’t help because you’re genetically deficient. I promise not to mention it again. I love you anyway. And if you tasted soap in your dessert last night, it wasn’t because I snuck in cilantro; it was just an accident. I hope one day a gene that causes accident prone-ness will be discovered.