Tag Archives: food

257. You know what’s wrong with this meringue?

“You know what’s wrong with this meringue?” the food critic spouted after three spoonfuls.

The chef did.

Not enough arsenic.

 

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222. A fondness of rhubarb

A fondness of rhubarb lured me to the kitchen, where mother was preparing dessert. She had just finished poaching the delicious sugary stems and was now pouring the pink water into cups, to which she would add the cheesecake topping once the rhubarb sauce had cooled down.

The smells reminded me of the good old days, when dad was still around and he would show his son how to eat the dessert without wasting a single drop of delight. I couldn’t help myself and stuck my finger into one of the cups, despite a scolding from mother.

This was heaven. Here, this moment, in this kitchen. The smells, the taste, the memories of yesteryear. All that was missing was a grandchild to share the experience with, mom would probably say. But that was not going to happen. She knew that, and it had left a huge emotional void. She hugged me and I felt her pain.

The rhubarb sauce was cold now and the cups were swiftly filled with the cheesecake topping. I helped mother carry the tray to the parlour table and put one of the desserts in front of Jim.

“Taste this. If you’ve ever had a better dessert, you’re lying.”

One bite was enough to make Jim smile. His eyes beamed like those of a kid on Christmas Eve. The spoon expertly graze the cup’s edges as to not waste a single drop. Just like I’d told hold him. Just like my father had told me.

I still think it was that moment, that precise moment, mom for the first time truly accepted I was gay.

 

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179. One dead body, two dozen suspects

One dead body, two dozen suspects and nearly all of them had a seemingly solid alibi. That was the daunting task facing detective Wanda Dinklage on a typically gloomy Friday afternoon in Anchorage, Alaska.

The victim was Gerald Ottenburgh, renowned for showing up at restaurants, ordering the pricy five course menu, eating it and then leaving before the bill hit the table. He was the most hated person in the local restaurateur business and therefore it was no big surprise to find him in a pool of his own blood, a meat cleaver adorning his chest.

Detective Dinklage had questioned every restaurant owner in the greater Anchorage area. Raymond Blancneige, the explosive Michelin-starred chef at Pure, but also fish-and-chips honcho Simon Codd and Zhara Wong, the Asian fusion cook who had taken Alaska by storm. But the detective was most suspicious about Calvin Pront, who had a known temper and had only last week been the victim of an Ottenburgh visit.

“Here,” the chef said, ignoring detective Dinklage’s questions on her visit to the restaurant and shoving a plate her way. “Tell me what you think.”

Detective Dinklage had a bite. It tasted divine. Better than anything she’d ever eaten, actually.

“Amazing”, was all she could utter, before taking another spoonful. “What is it?”

At the morgue, the coroner picked up the phone to tell detective Dinklage that Gerald Ottenburgh’s body no longer contained a liver.

 

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111. Welcome to the Poison Squad

 “Welcome to the Poison Squad!”

Dr. Wiley congratulated Ethan on the noteworthy apprenticeship that had now made him the youngest member of the group by a country mile. The teenager could not conceal his pride. The daily stool samples, the sweat collections, the incessant pulse-taking. It had all been worth it. The Poison Squad was the most famous food gang in the States. The girls he’d win over just by being a member…

“Eager to see what’s on the menu today, I suppose?” Dr. Wiley winked while making his way to the basement of the Agriculture Office where the midday tasting was about to start.

“I’m not going to lie to you, son,” said Dr. Wiley. “You are here because your predecessor keeled over from eating too much copper sulphate. Got to his liver, then his kidneys. It’s banned as a food additive now of course. Though I have heard they are considering using it as a pesticide.”

Ethan knew the dangers. He was not put off by them. So he spooned in the apple sauce, slurped the soup, feasted on the turkey and savoured the rice pudding. All with a healthy, ever increasing dose of saltpetre of course.

The same routine was repeated each morning, midday and evening. Sometimes Ethan got sick, sometimes he got really sick. Most of the times he just enjoyed a hot meal, the unpleasant metallic taste notwithstanding.

It was a tale he would often narrate to his grandchildren, who were all ears as he told them he and his colleagues where the pioneers who had made sure the food they ate would be safe.

“Now who’s up for the yummy spinach your granny has prepared?” Ethan would ask. He’d get disgusted faces every time. And he’d wonder if he had wasted his career.

 

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66. The blowfish chef

The blowfish chef whetted her fugu knife. For the first time in three days a customer had ordered the dish, which was among the most delicious in all of Japanese cuisine but could be lethal if not properly prepared.

Naoko first eliminated the fins, then severed most of the fish’s head. She’d gone through the routine thousands of times. So often in fact that it had become second nature. After removing the skin the knife disembowelled the animal. With surgical precision toxic organs, some as tiny as a pinhead, were quickly discarded to avoid contamination of edible parts. Preparing the dish took up to an hour and a single second of oversight could spell disaster. But Naoko didn’t break a sweat.

Five minutes after the dish was served a hubbub arose from the dining room floor. The maître d’ stormed into the kitchen to dial emergency services. Curious chefs left their stations to peer through the round windows in the kitchen door at the poor soul that had fallen victim to the fugu curse.

Not Naoko however. As methodically as she’d filleted the blowfish she removed her apron and stepped out the back door. Through the alley she advanced to the restaurant front, where – right next to the entrance – hung a small blackboard. ‘674 days since last blowfish poisoning’.

As she sank to her knees, holding the fugu knife, she was determined not to miss any vital organs this time.

 

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18. The yellow custard smiled at you

The yellow custard smiled at you as you opened the fridge. The centrepiece of a tasty éclair with one big drawback. Someone had quite clearly taken a bite out of it. By day three I was resorting to asking my colleagues whether it was their snack that was languishing in the cold. But none of them admitted to either owning the éclair or having had a bite.

More perplexing still was that no-one even attempted to take a second bite. I started wondering why. Surely this was not due to some dormant territorial angst as no-one would ever know if you took another bite. Perhaps it was caution. The éclair might contain some deadly poison and could have been placed in the fridge by a psychopath. Not unfathomable considering the amount of shifty strangers that pass through our offices on a daily basis.

Thursday and Friday came and went without any new developments in the increasingly odd mystery of the half-eaten éclair in the fridge. But on Monday morning the pastry was no longer there. Just two crumbs and a single wiggly droplet of custard on an otherwise empty plate.

Most people’s money was on Alexandra being the culprit, since she was always the first to arrive and the last to leave. In the end, sickened by the incessant insinuations, she quit.

She’s running her own bakery now. Or so they say.

 

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Did you enjoy this story? Then why not try the 101 stories in 300 words or less in YOU’RE GETTING SLEEPY, THE HYPNOTIST’S APPRENTICE YAWNED.

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