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Even Monkeys Fall out of Trees

Monkey in a treeSeveral years ago I got a teabag with a message on the tag; Even monkeys fall out of trees, and I laughed out loud! I think I kept that little tag for years, I may still have it somewhere. It’s a phrase I repeat to myself often and in all kinds of circumstances. Yes, we’re all aware that we make mistakes, but so do monkeys, and I don’t consider their mistakes signs of character flaws as I do so many of my own. Keeping this phrase in mind helps me when I screw up even those things I believe I’m good at, for example cooking. Things have been pretty serious here and I thought it might be fun to share some of my worst (and funniest) cooking mishaps here, these include a range from failing to read the box to leaving out a critical ingredient, hurting myself, and just being sloppy and careless.

Who hasn’t made a cake and grabbed the salt instead of the sugar? I’m happy to say I got this disaster out of the way when I was still young enough to not worry about all the wasted time and ingredients, and old enough to learn never to make that mistake again. When in doubt I check with my finger, but at my house, I use kosher salt which makes this particular error almost impossible to repeat.

Sometimes you know what went wrong, like the time I made a Chinese banquet for a big dinner party, and in one of the dishes rather than using the cornstarch (in a yellow box) I used the baking soda (in a yellow box) that had been soaking up the odors in my fridge for about two years YUM, nothing like ammonia-scented meatballs!  Other times you have no idea what happened, and no time to fix it. I was invited to a friend’s for dinner and said I’d bring a lemon meringue pie, sadly it never properly set, so I brought a crust filled with lemon soup under a giant meringue crouton.

I have nearly sliced the tip of my thumb off cutting a baguette, set the oven on fire cooking a duck, cut myself on a mandolin almost daily while working at a restaurant on Nantucket, where a box of Band-aids went for $6.00 in 1993 (and our boss felt we were in charge of our own first aid supplies). I have slipped and fallen on my ass while dancing, in non-slip shoes in front of a kitchen full of team members, losing any dignity I might have had after my public dancing which seemed like a good idea at the time.

There were the individual pecan tarts that I thought were fine, but my boss (the cheap Band-aid dude) thought we too brown to serve at the restaurant and brought them to our house and dumped them on the kitchen table, with a sneer, a nasty comment, and a hasty departure. My five roommates thought they were just fine and ate them all while I sobbed in shame in my room. That was not a fun job!

I have baked bread that didn’t rise, burned numerous pots and pans, made lumpy sauces, coffee full of grounds, and half-raw pancakes (many times). Guests have politely eaten food I have over and under cooked, and given me compliments on under as well as over seasoned food. And I have been trained by the best!

I’m sure you’ve had your share of disasters too, but next time you burn a pan of brownies, or your pasta is a shade beyond al dente, please repeat this helpful phrase to yourself, even monkeys fall out of trees, and carry on.

What have been your worst kitchen catastrophes?

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  • November 13, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    Little Miss Wordy - This is great! If amazing chefs like you make these mistakes, I shouldn’t be too hard on my rookie self. 😉ReplyCancel

    • November 13, 2014 - 11:05 am - Well… Please don’t be hard on yourself! And I’m not amazing, just well trained, oh, and I love to cook!!ReplyCancel

  • November 14, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    Roshni - Love this!!! I’m not a good cook at all, so you can well imagine how many disasters I’ve caused!!ReplyCancel

  • August 24, 2015 - 6:20 am

    This Isn’t Easy » Chefs Last Diet - […] not posting, which sounds like a great idea at 3:30 Sunday afternoon. I have posted before about my kitchen fails, and who doesn’t like to witness a good screw […]ReplyCancel

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