27 October 2008

kitchen katastrophe: the cucumber

my friend had just received a promotion at work and to congratulate her, i invited her over for a home cooked meal. we were students doing internships, rather poor, and living in paris in small apartments with little to no kitchen. i had just started reading recipes online at work while i was bored and found one that i thought would be easy enough for me to make: chicken in a red sauce and a nice side salad.

lisa and i were new friends - we didn't know each other THAT well and this would have been her first time seeing my apartment. it was a small studio - 17m squared. she sat on the couch while i baked and watched me - 2 feet away in the kitchen. she laughed when i put on rubber gloves to handle the chicken. i think she thought i was being funny, but at the time, chicken really grossed me out. i have since mostly gotten over the disgust of raw meat, but sometimes it comes back and i still keep a pair of rubber gloves on hand.

we had a nice conversation and while the chicken cooked i began preparing the side salad. i had a beautiful cucumber from the store that i held up in one hand with the knife in the other. "would you like some cucumber on your salad?" i asked, quite pleased with myself."suuuure..." she replies hesitantly. she was irish and i assumed her hesitancy was because they didn't put cucumbers on salads in ireland. i continue chatting as i am cutting and placing the slices of delicious veggie on the small salad plates i had. she stares at me and finally says, "but, you know that's a zucchini, right?"
i looked at the half-cut cucumber in my hand and realized it DID look a little funny. i didn't want my new friend to discover my ineptitude with all things culinary, so i said, "of course, i knew that." i had NO IDEA. she wasn't fooled. we decide to add it to the chicken to make our own sort of ratatouille.

the morale of this kitchen katastrophe is three-fold:
  1. bring a dictionary to the store in a foreign country
  2. cookbooks are invaluable - keep one on hand for last-minute reference
  3. pretend you know what you're doing no matter what!


  1. ha ha that's great! I was just at an cooking class focusing on Indian cuisine and a similar situation almost happened. A woman picked up tamarind thinking it was turmeric. There was a bit of a laugh when she announced her mistake. I think we were all being nice (just like lisa). Cant wait to hear the next kitchen katastrophe!

  2. Nice, Danielle! Reminds me of my kids reaction when I went to make pancakes and substituted olive oil for wesson oil. All the pancakes I could eat!

  3. ha ha... i think the joke is still on me. i dont know the difference between tamarind and tumeric or olive oil and wesson oil... guess i need to watch some more food network tv...

  4. I made the same mistake when I "started" cooking too... next time just throw the zucchini on the grill and put it back on the salad. it might work out~

  5. this totally happened to me this summer. my mom asked me to pick up a cucumber on my way to a family cookout for the salad... you should have seen the disappointment in her eyes. whatever... they both taste good!



LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs