Experiments in Culinary Science:
The Meatloaf Incident
I readily confess to watching waaay too much television, but I redeem myself by eschewing soap operas, game shows and “reality” programs. Right?
OK, in the interest of full disclosure, every now and then, I watch bits and pieces of The Chew, but not intentionally. It just happens to be on when I fire up the satellite box, and I don’t switch the channel. I guess that makes me a willing watcher — or just a lazy one.
Sometimes, I actually (gasp) learn things. However, I am not allowed to practice anything I may think I’ve mastered. My wife has forbidden me to cook, ever since The Meatloaf Incident.
Contrary to what some might think, The Meatloaf Incident had nothing to do with the musician who goes by a roughly similar name.
A decade or two ago, my daughters had requested that I make a meatloaf “with potatoes.” The rationale behind this request remains forever shrouded in mystery.
I’ll do anything for love. Like a bat out of hell, I obliged. Although I had no further guidelines, I proceeded to substitute raw, shredded potatoes for the bread crumbs I would normally have used in my standard meatloaf manufacturing process.
I should have realized that something wasn’t quite right with this methodology. The ground meat and potatoes showed a real resistance to being mixed. In fact, they almost seemed angry to be in the same bowl. The final product was not exactly what anyone might call paradise by the dashboard light.
I tried a piece, pronounced it strange but edible, and put the loaf in the fridge for the upcoming weekend. That was an excellent plan until my then girlfriend arrived at my house that Friday night while I was still at work.
Hungry, she scouted for food possibilities and spotted what appeared to be a normal, run-of-the-mill meatloaf. I had not thought to mark it with a warning label. A fan of cold meatloaf sandwiches, she fixed herself one and was totally unprepared for what her taste buds discovered. Her description of her reaction included much standing over the sink and spitting.
My defense was “my daughters made me do it,” but that testimony was thrown out of cooking court. My sentence was to never, ever, under any circumstances, prepare dishes which might be eaten by anyone other than myself.
Despite this harsh judgment, I did serve the meatloaf to my daughters that weekend. Perhaps they were simply being polite (there’s a first time for everything), but they both dutifully completed their meals without negative comment.
For crying out loud, two out of three ain’t bad.
Although I previously stated that I had been subject to a complete cooking ban since The Meatloaf Incident, that’s not entirely true. I actually still do some cooking, in a culinary mad scientist sort of way. The difference now is that all my kitchen creations must be in full compliance with the stipulations of the unwritten but rigidly enforced Meatloaf Incident Agreement.
Take my ongoing, somewhat dubious experiments with lasagna, for example. Did you know that the ingredients you can sandwich between layers of lasagna noodles are virtually infinite? Yes! It’s true!
Ingredients tested to date, with wildly varying results, have included salsa, pork sausage, spinach, pepperoni, habanero peppers and bacon. Much to my credit, I had the foresight to pre-cook the bacon before assembling the lasagna, which probably saved a call to the fire department during baking.
All of these current and future experiments in good nutrition, of course, require that I pay special attention to the “lurking ingredients/no surprises” clause of the MIA. I must relay, either verbally or via written note, exactly what’s inside anything I create and leave in the refrigerator for an unsuspecting consumer.
I can live with that. More important, so can my wife.
Experiments in Culinary Science: