I’m taking a break from grading papers to share a brief funny story with you about something dumb I did tonight.
So tonight I made some coconut chicken soup, kind of an Asian-fusion thing. You might have seen the recipe in the latest Real Simple. My first mistake was that I bought an unidentified chili pepper. This is a terrible idea for anyone except the most heat-tolerant folks. I saw these little orange chilies at Kroger; they were in the jalapeno bin, but the sign said that the jalapenos were temporarily out of stock. I sniffed one of the chilies and thought “It doesn’t smell spicy.” I bought it, but I was actually worried that I had bought some wimpy mini bell pepper (is there such a thing?) and that my soup wouldn’t be spicy enough. Irony alert.
Tonight I cut the pepper in half as the recipe instructed, and I noted that it did smell spicy after being cut. I briefly considered seeding it, since the seeds are supposed to be the spiciest part, but the recipe didn’t say to seed it, so I didn’t. I have a bad habit of slavishly following recipes, mainly because I’m afraid to deviate.
So I threw the halved pepper in the hot pot where I was cooking the onions. Almost immediately I started coughing, just from inhaling the steam. I mean really coughing. My neighbors probably thought I was in the last stages of tuberculosis. This should have been a warning sign.
The coughing continued throughout the entire cook time of the soup (including the part where I had to stick the chicken in longer because it was still pink). Still, I never took the chili out. I took the lemongrass out, because the recipe told me to, but I didn’t take the chili out. This is called legalism.
When I finally sat down to eat the finished product, you can imagine what happened. My taste buds were singed. My nose ran. I cried. But doggone it, I was going to power through it. I grabbed a Cherry Coke Zero to cool off my mouth. And I worked on that soup for about ten minutes. (Incidentally, I came up with a good nickname for a sexy redhead while I was eating. I got a big hunk of ginger in one bite, and I said, “That’s a big hunk of ginger.”)
I finally had to give up. I was suffering. I ate all the chicken out of my bowl, but I ended up dumping out a lot of the broth. I hated to throw away all the leftovers, so I put the rest of the soup in a large container. AND I TOOK THE CHILI OUT. That’s an important detail. Later, when I was packing my lunch, I hesitantly tried a spoonful of soup. It was still really spicy, but it didn’t make me weep. So I’m going to save it and try again tomorrow. I also put a big handful of croutons in the container, hoping they would counteract some of the heat. I don’t know if croutons actually have that power, but I’m trying anyway. I do a lot of magical thinking when I’m cooking.
Back to grading papers.