Shelly and I invited some good friends and their young son over for dinner and a movie last Friday. Earlier that week, while pretending to be an extra-wonderful husband, I told Shelly, I would “do everything.” I wanted her to relax and enjoy the evening for a change. Normally Shelly would be the project manager and main operative for this sort of event. The only condition of my offer was that Shelly would need to accept a lower-than-monkeys-can-do-it standard of quality for the evening. She unwisely accepted.
By way of background, you should know that I have never tried to plan and execute a dinner party. I usually do the fetching, cleaning and chopping. As it turns out, despite the vastness of my fetching, cleaning, and chopping experience, I have learned nothing whatsoever about planning and preparing a meal.
I’m also not observant. If I eat a wonderful dinner, my memory is something along the lines of I think plates were involved. So I couldn’t rely on any form of my experience to pull this event together. But how hard could it be? I figured I could use the Internet to teach me everything I needed.
Yeah, I own a restaurant. But that would be cheating.
I started by Googling “tri tip” because Shelly had helpfully mentioned that as an easy thing to cook on the gas grill. I didn’t have time to research what parts of the steer comprise the tri tip, but obviously the tips are its horns, nose, tail, and penis. As a vegetarian, I didn’t want to know which three of the five possibilities were involved in the tri tip. That was none of my business, frankly.
I Googled and Googled until I had some idea of what I wanted for the side dishes. I drove to Whole Foods and loaded up my basket with red potatoes, green beans, garlic bread, and an unidentified part of a dead mammal. I also bought a small basket of fruit for my own dinner. There was no way in Hell I was making two separate dinners just because one of us was a vegetarian.
The roasted red potatoes called for rosemary. I couldn’t find any in the spice rack, but I remembered we had planted an herb garden out back. I didn’t have time to Google an image of rosemary, so I grabbed the first thing that I couldn’t positively categorize as “not rosemary” and hoped for the best.
In the end, I produced a tri tip that had the look and texture of Ty Cobb’s baseball mitt, some undercooked potatoes flavored with an unidentified weed, over-spiced green beans, and some cupcakes from the store. The garlic bread never made it to the table.
I tried to cook the garlic bread on the grill but that turned out to be a tragic miscalculation. As soon as the bread touched the grill it went up like a Taliban weapons depot. If I ever decide to fashion a crude bomb, I plan to make it out of garlic bread.
I kept track of my hours spent for the planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning. It took me about 12 hours to produce a very bad meal for five people. On the plus side, don’t expect to see The Dilbert Cookbook anytime soon.