“You’re rotting your mind,” my dad would always say. The problem, I had nothing to do. I could do my homework, but the oven was constantly screaming for my attention. I had finally found something I excelled at, other than watching TV. Something to distract me from the pressures of life; a distraction that would bring my family together; an activity that could boost my self-esteem like homework never could.
Creeping towards the oven to set it at that scalding three hundred and fifty degrees, a cold bark causes me to pause. No it’s not the family dog that we will never own, but my mother. She proceeds to ask me her series of regular questions: who am I baking for, why do I make the house smell so good, why do I always ruin her diet? I respond with silence.
Tonight my evasive response will not be tolerated. My mom knows the real reason I’m in the kitchen– to procrastinate. However, tonight mom decides to be kind and allows me to make dinner.
Thankfully, I had just seen Giada whip up a crispy savory chicken, which would soon become one of my signature dishes. I give in; chicken Milanese is still better than homework.
I turn the oven off and quickly scurry towards the pantry. It’s already seven o’clock, and there is fresh-pounded chicken in the fridge. I realize I have been set up. Mom knows the routine: I come home, watch TV, get yelled at by dad, resort to the comfort of the kitchen. She knew she would get a dinner out of me tonight, how sneaky.
First I grab panko, crispy Japanese breadcrumbs that crackle in your mouth like pop rocks. I then venture over to the spice cabinet to get my “fresh out of the garden” dried, processed herbs.
Now, the assembly line. First the slimy, cold breasts are dipped in egg and a mound of dry ingredients, ending in the boiling bath of hot sizzling oil. As the panko crumbs crackle, I begin rolling the juicy lemons, slowly cracking their inner membranes to get the most juice possible.
I turn to see the pan spitting balls of oil, time to flip the chicken. As I move towards the pan, I must dodge the bullet-like splatter. I make it through the battlefield just in time to turn the chicken. As I rescue the chicken from the scalding heat, I refresh it with a nice cool squeeze of lemon.
I hear a stampede down the stairs. My family knows that my distractions bring delicious delights. They sit at the table anxiously awaiting my “distraction” that has brought them together.
As I serve my family, the strain on their faces finally fades and transforms into smiles. All I hear is silverware clanking against china accompanied by an occasional praise of the food. I feel good. No scratch that, I feel great. My distraction has brought people together, improved their day. I am a chef, all because I wanted a distraction from homework.
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