What can possibly go wrong? More than you’d think, according to Gilda Claudine Karasik.
Text And Photo By Gilda Claudine Karasik
Food writing for the masses can be…scary. In the moment just after hitting “Publish,” my confidence is often hijacked by apprehension. Did I catch all the typos? Is the title just right? Is my recipe authentic enough? Who will read it? Will anyone actually COOK it? Is my post platitudinous? Have I overused words like platitudinous?
Then again, I have a knack for imagining worst-case scenarios. For instance, in a flash, I can think of a thousand ways to die by feather. Examples? One: downy barbs fly into eyes while driving and car careens into lake. Two: while enjoying a cucumber sandwich on the veranda, breeze kicks up and blows quill into nostril, immediately piercing brain. Three: bird lands on head and shakes a tail feather, releasing parasitic mites that crawl into ears, infiltrate bloodstream and live happily ever until host keels over approximately 24 hours later. I assure you, I typed these spontaneously.
It’s not that I sit around expecting the worst. It’s just that I am capable of imagining it, perhaps more than the average person. This special little talent actually comes in handy at happy hours and family dinners where I employ it as a way of breaking the ice or simply redirecting the conversation — not if, but when — my father and mother-in-law start debating politics.
Usually this kind of talk gives others the sense that they are normal compared to me. And maybe they are, especially those types who go through life taking things in stride, like Californians who never seem concerned about the imminence of the Big One. So, by way of sharing this social elixir with all of you chill foodies out there and making you feel all warm and Zen inside, here are a few of my impromptu worst-case scenarios in the cooking, eating, writing context:
Cooking. I have spent a year apprenticing in Diana Kennedy’s Mexican kitchen. Cleaving chickens while blindfolded. Foraging for wild mushrooms in Tlaxcala, pencil drawings my only clues. Roasting chiles with one hand tied behind my back. I have evolved from home cook to chef. Doña Kennedy has become my spiritual food advisor. I return to the States, ready to film the first episode of my new Cooking Channel show. I’m in the studio, live. Chopping, chatting, cooking. Then, a solar flare pummels the earth, signaling the beginning of 2012 doom and gloom. All communications satellites are fried and, needless to say, the show is cancelled.
Eating. I have invited my top 25 favorite food writers to dinner. The skies darken just as my guests arrive. It begins to storm. I serve the first course when, suddenly, the lights flicker and then go out. A breeze blows out the votives on the candelabra; the crystals on the chandelier tinkle. We sit in total darkness and I laugh nervously wondering whether the flan in the oven will be done in time for the dessert course. Then, just as unexpectedly as they went out, the lights return, illuminating a murderous scene: Anthony Bourdain face-down in his mole. I am ruined.
Writing. Just when I am gaining a respectable readership, aliens invade and mind meld with several food writers the world over, including Yours Truly. Space-invaded me accesses the internet and re-writes my published recipes to cater to an alien diet, replacing such things as eggs with the other kind of huevos. This not-so-minor substitution sparks intergalactic war and leads to the brink of human extinction.
What’s your worst-case scenario in the kitchen or on the written page? Actual or imagined? Over-the-top or platitudinous?
Gilda Claudine is a lawyer and freelance writer. She blogs about Mexican food and culture at www.dosgildas.com and about writing at www.dkwritings.wordpress.com. She is currently working on a her first novel.