Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.
You would think that since I'm a chef, no one ever offers to cook for me. Most times, I wish that were the case. Fact is that I'm constantly headed to a family member's or a friend's for dinner. More often than not, I don't ask for seconds. I've been offered everything from creations gone wild to blah basics. Some of these kitchen catastrophies are kind enough to serve each course with a disclaimer. Yet others remain blissfully unaware of their lack of culinary skills.
Over the years, I've learned to come prepared for these occasions. I never arrive hungry, always keep my glass of wine full, I am armed with Peptos in my purse, and know the location of the nearest drive-through. So for the ones in my life whom I love so much that I choke this stuff down -- "My Favorite Worst Dishes Ever!"
There's nothing sexier than your significant other trying to dazzle you with his or her cooking skills.
"Are those raviolis?" I asked.
"Yeah! I use meat ravioli instead of lasagne noodle in my recipe. I figure the ravioli is already stuffed with meat and cheese. All I have to do is add my sauce and a little more cheese," he proudly held up the jar of Ragu. He looked cute in his apron, so I held back the laughter and choked down the bland concoction.
Thanksgiving in March, that's how we have to roll in the service industry. A friend's mother worked all day and opened up her home for those of us who had missed out in November. Overworked, gluey mash, bland stuffing, and lots of cocktails -- it was a traditional Thanksgiving after all.
The majority of us remember our moms as the best chefs ever, and I am no different -- or at least I was.
"What was that pasta thing?!" David laughed his head off leaving my parents' house.
"I don't know! She's always made it," I really had no clue.
"It was so dry, but what the hell was the curdled stuff on it? Am I going to get sick?" he jokingly asked.
"I think she puts egg and cheese or something in it. My grandmother makes it too. I don't know; I've been eating it all my life," we got a good laugh out of it and, of course, never told her.
The Raw In-Law:
A long workweek ended with dinner at the in-laws. Typically, Bocahontas doesn't cook, but her closest efforts are excerpts from a raw food book (probably because she can't figure out how to turn on her oven). I'll leave it like this -- she used her dehydrator to warm up the food.
At a recent dinner party, the whole room was buzzing over a very radical dish, black-bean lasagne. The hostess' New York Italian husband was enraged by this concept.
"But it has fresh cilanto and everything," she defended her blasphemy. The moment of truth was upon us, and the dining room fell silent.
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"I don't like this."
All the guests quickly looked up from their dish. We all wondered who would make such a statement when it was followed by, "I won't be making this again." The chef sitting at the end of the table couldn't even finish the first bite. It was decided that Black Bean Lasagna had the same origins as Rachel's Trifle.