Food, the ultimate universal language that brings people together through gastronomic wonders and “Hmm…that fart smelt like mustard!”.
I eat out a lot, (not to be confused with eating someone out…although both are equally delicious), in fact — I eat out so much and so often that even my bank managers have called me a few times to check up on me;
“Sir, we’d just like to make sure that your card hasn’t been stolen?”
“Nah…that’s all me. I eat out a lot.”
That’s a bit too judgemental coming from individuals that nearly bankrupted half the world not too long ago.
Anyways, I like Italian food; which is why I have Italian friends, with Italian grandparents — and the one sin one does not want to commit at an Italian Dinner Party is to ask for “Ketchup”.
You. Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Unless you are Robert De Niro (see below).
No matter how much you feel like adding a bit of sizzle to the mix, you don’t ask for ketchup; ask for Tabasco (not my sponsors). (I always keep one handy in my pocket).
This was one of those rare occasions where friends invite me over for a dinner party, except there’s no dinner; we’re all humbly required to bring our own food.
So it’s kinda like a B.Y.O (Bring Your Own, Buy Your Own) type deal where the host is simply too lazy to cook so they label the dinner party as a “Multicultural Event for Delicacies and Traditions”.
M.E.D.T. for short (not to be confused with medical emergency, though we’ll get to that later).
P.T.S.D. for later.
As previously mentioned, I eat out a lot — which means I don’t cook.
I can, I just don’t.
Life’s easier with Uber-Eats (not my sponsors).
I wondered if lying is worth it, or whether the advice “It’s better to apologise than ask for permission”, still applies in this day and age; one can’t be too careful.
I decided against my better judgement, and went for the D.I.Y option.
Quickly sprinting my way down to the local grocery store to pick up a fresh serving of Frozen Lasagna.
Reading through the instructions, carefully observing every detail;
“Unwrap, Remove Plastic Sheet, Set Oven to 180 — Timer 15 Mins.
Reset Oven, continue further 5 Mins on 160”
Seemed simple enough, and so I did; following every inch of it as the Frozen Lasagna slowly started to simmer into edible goodness.
To top it off and give it my signature look, I even decided to improvise; adding cracked peppers, grated parmesan cheese, and a splash of the good ol’ Tabasco (not my sponsors).
I was ready, ready to make my move; like Kevin Bacon in Footloose.
This was my time, my time to shine — make them realise, I too am capable of producing something akin to being edible.
Entering the house, all sorts of smells were surrounding the aura; giving it a Unicef vibe.
Everybody’s eyes locked towards me, dressed sharply in my black suit, as I made my entrance; my friends remarked I looked like I was dressed for the occasion — like a waiter.
I wasn’t going to let the remarks bring me down, for I had accomplished the wonder of cooking up a homemade Frozen Lasagna.
As the dishes started to undress, I waited my turn; my turn for the final reveal like the final episode of The Voice or The Bachelor or whatever else reality television show that has a bombastic reveal at the end…
…Masterchef! That’s the one.
All eyez on Me — as I unravelled, with a smug look on my face;
“It’s Lasagna, homemade!”
“Where’s the Butter Chicken?!”, remarked the hosts.
“The butter what?!”
“We texted you to bring Butter Chicken!”
“You did?…I thought it was…uhh.”
I wondered if this would be a good time to pull out the race card, but then I realised Butter Chicken is an Indian Dish; sadly I’m Half-Pakistani.
“Well like…I thought, let’s celebrate good ol’ Italian food! Since we’re celebrating Multiculturalism…?”
“…WE made Lasagna. There was a list!”
“…Oh, yeah. Right. Fuck.”
I guess I forgot to read the instruction manual to the dinner party.
Disappointed, Dazed, and Delirious, I finally came clean…
“The Lasagna…I didn’t cook it. It’s Frozen.”
“Well…let’s just eat anyways.”, cooler heads prevailed.
And with that balance was restored, Mama always said “honesty is the best policy”.
We began enjoying the buffet of all the cultural dishes everybody had brought,
Some Eggplant vegan thing
Some Avocado vegan thing
Some Rice and Beans Mexican thing
And some Tiramisu (Italian)
Everything was fine and dandy, until one fine gentleman proclaimed;
“Hey anybody got any ketchup?”
“Ketchup for what?”, I said provocatively (with sexual undertones).
“The Frozen one…? Mine?”, I said with a skirmish look.
“Uhh…I don’t know which one this is, but it could use a bit of ketchup.”
Suddenly the fight was on, a competition had emerged — like Gladiators the two Lasagna’s were about to enter the Coliseum.
A fight to the death!
“…Why don’t you taste both and then tell us which one needs Ketchup!”, said the hosts with a slimy look of their faces; one of disgust.
The poor gentleman took a spoonful of each, and pointed…
“That one…”, he said proudly; hoping he’d guessed right.
“That’s not the frozen one…”, said the lovely lady to my left.
“It’s not?”, said the poor Gentleman who’d dug his own grave.
Once again, SILENCE.
Crickets were chirping and lights were flickering, a decision had to me made; to Ketchup or not to Ketchup.
I thought for a while, and a spark of enlightenment struck…
“How about some Tabasco?”, I proclaimed!
“We don’t have any…”, said the hosts.
“Don’t worry, I always carry one in my pocket.”
“Why on earth would you…urgh. Alright then.”
The gentleman poured droplets of spicy hot sauce goodness, making sure as to not overpower the flavour with it.
The eyes were set upon once more, as he took a bite of the now smokey goodness poured over the Lasagna which required Ketchup.
“Umm…yeah that’s it!”
And with that once more; balance was restored.
Love was in the air, and we all laughed.
Suddenly the gentleman fell to the floor, sweating bullets as he clenched his stomach ever so tightly; “that’s not how you do crunches”.
An endless flow of grizzly noises would vibrate, “he’s not pregnant is he?”.
“Call the ambulance!”, yelled out the gentleman.
“But…but…but…”, I stammered.
“Oh shit yeah…I had some peanuts in my pocket.”
And well…yeah…so…he survived to live another day.
And…well…I don’t think I’ll be invited to a dinner party anytime soon.
But I guess if there’s one thing to take away from this experience is this; Frozen Lasagna still kicks the shit out of Homemade Lasagna — there’s always a silver lining, no matter how cloudy it gets.