Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wundrun's Kitchen Nightmares

A local radio station is having a 'kitchen nightmare' contest. The winner gets a free trip to Los Angeles and a $250.00 gift certificate for dinner at Gordon Ramsay's new restaurant. Ramsay hosts "Hells Kitchen", a show I have never watched. That would be like cheating on 'Top Chef', something I will not do.

I have a kitchen nightmare story. This morning as I listened to the contest details, I thought "Hey, I have a kitchen nightmare story, and I can write it up and win, because I am a blogger. That's what I do. I write!" Gaining considerable enthusiasm I began to think that I could be like that lady in the Prizewinner of Cala-somethin' somethin' County! I was driving my kids up to the in-laws, where they will be hiding out for the week, so I had plenty of time to compose my winning entry in my head on the drive.

Man, that was a great entry I came up with. Unfortunately, when I sat down at my computer I pretty much forgot all those pithy things I wanted to say with precision, wit, and timing. Ah, hell. Then I remembered one other thing. I don't write so good neither. But I wrote it anyway and since it was writ, I sent it in.

Here it is. (Oh, and every word of it is true. Even the longer parts I left out and the ones I forgot somewhere around Baraboo).

When I was in college my friends and I took a summer sublet apartment. It was the upper of a dubious old house. Not much worked right, to say the least. I think that we were all waitresses or bartenders. Being around restaurants and it being the summer, none of us used much in the kitchen except maybe the microwave, and obviously the refrigerator (beer, natch).

One night I thought I would impress my boyfriend by cooking him a home-made meal. At the time my specialty was spaghetti and meatballs. Boil noodles, heat can of sauce with frozen meatballs. Serve. Expanding my horizons, I also planned to make one of those frozen loaves of french bread. Pre-garlic-buttered, of course.

I started the noodles and sauce on the stove top and turned on the gas oven to preheat. Five minutes later I opened the oven door to check if it was hot enough yet. Think about how you open your oven door, when it's one of those free-standing models: You open door, bend down, look in.

That's what I did. That's why the fireball that exploded out of the oven caught me right in the face.

At the hospital they wanted to know if I'd been playing with fireworks, because it was the 5th of July. I said I hadn't. Besides, it wasn't just my face that was burned. On the back of my head were charred little balls of melted hair globs. I think my face was probably in the blue part of the flame and the orange part sort of wrapped around my head. My boyfriend - I do think I impressed him - said the flame came out about four feet. It burned off my eyebrows, my eyelashes and my bangs. You know for a white girl I was looking quite a bit like Whoopi Goldberg. Aside from a lot of unwanted hair removal - meaning I didn't want the hair removed - my skin was mostly okay. Except that my nose was one big watery blister. The doctor peeled the skin off my nose. I went home looking like a sad, ratty-wigged, alopecia-suffering Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Strangely, the expensive restaurant that I worked at didn't want me to cocktail waitress for a while. At least not until I got the skin back on my nose.

My landlord? He stopped by to tell me that I didn't really look all that bad. And since he tried to fix the oven himself we just went on not using it.

Oddly enough, the entire house burnt down eight months later. We didn't live there by then and no one was home. It was spring break.

UPDATE: Huzzah! They are going to read my entry on the air Thursday morning! I have won an apron (I need a new one. Yay) and a cookbook (Can you ever have enough? No. You cannot!). Now I have a 1 in 5 shot at winning the whole deal. The trip winner will be announced on Tuesday.

I told my mom about it and she threatened to write her own tale: A tenant in one of their apartments tried to kill himself by sticking his head in the oven. It was electric. Ha!

Cross your fingers for me. If you do, I'll send you a postcard from L.A. (Gotta go now, I'm having a little dream sequence.)


Suzy said...

WHY did it do that? Perhaps your landlord had already tried to fix it once. Good story. Glad your eyebrows have grown back!

Dr. Zaius said...

Ack! It sounds like you ended up being the home-cooked meal! Bonus points for your use of the word "alopecia." I hope that you win the contest! It's a very funny story.

Now I am hungry for spaghetti and meatballs. And garlic bread!

Randal Graves said...

Ouch! I think you caught Zul from Ghostbusters in between swings of beer.

Jess Wundrun said...

suzy I guess that the flame didn't catch on the thingamajiggy, so all the gas built up inside the stove. When the door opened built up gas + pilot light + oxygen created an explosion.

I was friends with the girls who moved into the apartment after us (I tried to warn them). They said that an electrician went into the basement and ran out scared.

We still all think the landlord burned the place down himself.

dr. zaius I had a boyfriend, not the same boyfriend as in this story, who had alopecia. He said I caused it. I guess I'm a bugger to live with!

franiam I'm guessing you've got some good rental tales yourself!

randal I thought I saw Zul frequently in those days.

Sorghum Crow said...

Whoa. Reminds me of the time my roommate turned on the oven but didn't light it. It didn't have a pilot light. The stove top did have pilots, so once there was enough gas, the door blew open with a huge boom. Fortunately, no one was peering in at the time. Glad you survived to entertain us.

Come to think of it, he was the same roommate that exploded the pressure cooker full of chick peas and didn't clean up the ceiling afterwards.

Jess Wundrun said...

sorghum I should probably mention that when I told both my husband and my mom that I was entering this contest they said "did you write about how you burned the ceiling above the stove?"

Some hot oil caught fire.....

Dean Wormer said...

Yes, but how did the spaghetti turn out?

That's a great story. Good thoughts from here in Oregon for you to win. If not - you can never have enough aprons.

dguzman said...

Go, Jess, go! There is no justice in the world if an story like that doesn't win!


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Good luck on winning. That was one crazy story girl. I hope everyhing grew back correctly.

Mauigirl said...

Wow, that's a scary thing to have had happen! Glad you were OK!

Anonymous said...

Ouch! I think I'll stay away from ovens on principle now.

Dale said...

The only thing you left out was that Ring of Fire was playing on the radio at the time. I hope you win by a nose!