I cooked dinner the other night for Matt and I, in the kitchen of his small New York studio apartment. The meal had definite potential: a roast chicken with cherry tomatoes, garbanzo beans and paprika. The garlic, seeped with olive oil and red pepper flakes, filled the room with its warmth as it baked.
But something—and I still don’t know what—went wrong. A frustrating hour and a half later, I slid the entire contents of the roasting pan into the trash. Rubbery, undercooked chicken had slouched next to a blackened, asphyxiated pile of beans and tomatoes. Grease flowed off the pan. It was my first experience with such surprising inedibility.
I’ve been feeling anxious lately, because graduate school is reaching its end and I’m moving to California in less than a month. My apartment is a mess and deadlines refuse to stop hanging over my head. I'm allergic to everything this time of year, which makes it difficult to breathe, let alone smell. Usually my stress manifests itself in small ways: forgetting my wallet, milk in the cupboard and cereal in the fridge. Occasionally bigger ways: picking fights with my mother on the phone, deciding to cut off half my head of hair. But my anxiety had never yet entered the kitchen.
I made a half-hearted attempt to carve the sad little chicken while Matt chuckled off to the side. I was frustrated and, true to form, began to pick a fight. I like when things to according to plan. The thump as it all hit the bottom of the garbage bin was satisfying.
Luckily, Matt is patient. We resuscitated the evening with the asparagus I had picked up from the farmer's market that morning - simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I made toast and Matt pulled out a delightful container of foie gras that he had brought back from France over a year ago.
"I was saving it for a special occasion," he said, prying open the thick sealed lid with a knife.
We sat around his small coffee table, perched on a desk chair and a corner of the bed. We drank red wine and plucked asparagus stalks off the plate with out fingers. Sometimes, I suppose, things are OK when they don't go according to plan.