When The Cook Can’t Cook

By Rogan Smith |
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Burnt Meal

Do you know why people who can’t cook always insist on cooking? Because no one tells them that they can’t cook. So, they insist on cooking!

Bahamians are at their most creative when they’re in the kitchen. We whip up things that others can only dream of creating. We like our food seasoned and consistent.

Sometimes, unfortunately, you stumble across someone who loves to cook, but can’t. But, it’s not their fault. Someone, who either really enjoys bad cooking or simply has a hard time hurting that person’s feelings, lies and tells them that they know their way around a kitchen. Then the rest of us suffer for all eternity. What’s worse is that everyone knows it, but the chef.

Years ago, a friend invited me to her friend’s house for a celebration. The set-up was beautiful and it was smelling right in the kitchen. My olfactory sense was in overdrive. While picking up my plate and fork, a suspicious- looking fella came over to make small talk. But, I could sense he had something to say. He motioned to me to follow him to the wall. He took a deep breath and finally told me that I could eat anything in the kitchen – anything I wanted, but I was not to touch the peas n’ rice. It was Eve in the Garden of Eden all over again.

I asked him if the peas n’ rice was being reserved for someone. He said no and repeated that I could eat anything, but warned me strongly not to touch the rice.

Like Eve, I did not listen. I thought to myself, ‘you really can’t mess up peas n’ rice’. I scooped up the rice, along with some other tasty-looking items, said a prayer and dug in.

I ate the chicken. It was good. Had some ribs. The rub was right. Had some coleslaw. Delicious. Then, the peas n’ rice. Now, hold up, nah! I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I was tasting. All I knew is, it had a powdery taste to it. As my chewing slowed down, I raised my eyes just in time to see others staring at me with anticipation. I asked who did the rice. One woman said, “all I know is, I did the ribs and chicken.” Understand this. People who immediately call out what they did are essentially informing you that they didn’t make the jacked-up dish you are about to complain about.

I later discovered from those seated nearby that the author of that dish takes delight in making her peas n’ rice with flour. Ready for this? To “thicken the rice.” I’ve heard of thickening sauces and soups . . . but rice?! I should have listened to God.

No one had the heart to tell her to stop bringing it. So, she did, and no one touched it, except stupid me.

I have another friend who doesn’t know how to say no and she doesn’t like hurting people’s feelings. We’re very different. But, for years she suffered through her colleague’s meals because she didn’t have the heart to say that the food wasn’t appetizing.

Not only did the food not taste good. It didn’t look good. Most people are visual eaters. Every time she received a plate from her colleague, the chicken would be white with traces of pink. I’ve heard of people cooking their steaks rare, but not chicken.

My friend would tell her colleague repeatedly that she was either on a diet or was getting over food poisoning. But, it never worked. The food kept coming.

I’m no Ina Garten, But, when I say I can cook something, others agree. Because it’s not enough for me to say it or believe it. Others have to feel the same way. I experiment in my own kitchen before taking it to the masses.

I don’t judge people who tell you upfront they can’t cook, but try anyway. I applaud those individuals and at least we, the eaters, are forewarned. We appreciate that. This is why I enjoy the Food Network’s “Worst Cooks In America.” Not because it’s particularly entertaining, but because I have an appreciation for people who are truthful with themselves. They know they can’t cook and they’re trying to do something about it.

However, those who act like they were Food Network champions, but can’t boil rice without flour – well, that’s another story.

You may not know that you can’t cook or someone lied and told you, you could. So, here are three tips to know if people really like your food or not.

They Ask You To Bring More. I have a coworker who makes the best corned beef salads ever. Real talk. I don’t know why hers always tastes so good. But, I always ask her to make it. I even go out of my way to buy a tin of corned beef and she gladly obliges. Others have told her she is great in the kitchen, too. So, she can rest easy that we really love the way she makes it. However, if no one asks you to make corned beef salad or even mentions your dish ever again, don’t risk it. If you casually mention that you’re making corned beef salad and no one responds, leave that alone.

They Take A Long Time To Eat It. Now, there is one caveat. I take a long time to eat and I know people who do, too. But, I’m referring to those who pick around everything and leave your dish on the plate forming icicles. That may be a sign that they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

They Tell You They Don’t Like It. This is for all the Rogans out there, bold enough to say, ‘Miss, I een like ya food.” These people are not trying to hurt your feelings. They are being honest, so don’t get mad when they are straight up with you.

Got your own story to share? Tell me all about it down below.

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