More Misadventures With Food

My column last week about my misadventures with coffee stirred up memories of other food mishaps.

Here are three such stories:

Reader Judy Young writes:

When we were kids, my dad was always grumpy when he worked a different shift and we learned to stay out of his way.

He came down from a nap to eat supper. We all scattered because he was not usually in a good mood coming from a nap and having to eat and then go to work again.

He filled his plate from various pots on the stove.

However, he didn’t know that my mother was in the process of cooking chocolate fudge.

He mistakenly ladled it onto his mashed potatoes, thinking it was gravy.

When he took a bite, we all knew something happened from the ruckus in the kitchen.

Afterward, one of my smart-aleck brothers, labeled all the items in the kitchen, e.g. “faucet,” “cabinet,” etc.

On the pan of fudge, he put “NOT gravy.”


From my wife, Meg McGuire:

When I lived in England, my family there was my mother’s sister.

A year or so into what turned into a 10-year stay, I was invited to my aunt’s to celebrate my birthday.

After dinner, she brought out the cake. It looked remarkable with white icing and swept-up peaks on the top.

Time to cut the cake.

There was a lot of chatter so my cake-cutting went on in a quiet corner. I gently pushed the knife down, expecting the usual soft icing and cake.

It wasn’t soft. In fact, it was pretty hard. I was aghast.

My aunt’s cake was a failure.

I wasn’t going to tell her but I attempted to saw my way into the icing, which cracked under the pressure of the knife.

The knife then got stuck, holding fast in some sort of goo.

More sawing and I then hit something so firm, it could have been ham.

This whole time I’m trying to act as though the broken icing, the goo and the rock-solid cake were all perfectly normal.

I cut an American-sized slice, about 2 inches at the wide end, and put it on a plate, where it landed with a thud.

Now it was the guests turn to be aghast.

The slices were way too large.

This was what is called a Celebration Cake and is made for special occasions in England.

It consists of dense fruitcake topped with a layer of apricot jam, then a layer of marzipan and then white sugar icing that is meant to harden.

These cakes are often made months in advance and perked up at intervals with brandy before the icing goes on.

My aunt forgave me for “breaking” her cake — and turned that first slice into about 20 pieces.


And from yours truly:

This dates back to when my parents were newly married.

Mom (a newly arrived immigrant from Germany) and Dad (who is Italian) were hosting his sister and brother-in-law for dinner.

This was a big deal.

Mom decides to make lasagna, the recipe for which included tiny meatballs.

Mom makes a bunch of them and sets them aside in a colander.

Dad, who was not much of a hand in the kitchen, came in to “help” and started doing the dishes.

Without looking, he grabbed the colander and immersed it in the soapy water.

As he is scrubbing, he pulls up a handful of soapy meatballs and was like “What the heck?!”

Mom is distraught.

Dad, ever-resourceful, says, “No worries” and proceeds to rinse off the meatballs!

They serve the dinner and, as Dad tells the story, he leaned in close all night to see if his brother-in-law would be blowing bubbles from his mouth!