Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stuff it Top Chef


Inspired by watching old seasons of "Top Chef" during my siesta, and in an effort to expand my culinary palette, I decided to try some new ideas.  I looked up some recipes for easy skillet meals and Spanish rice.  White rice is a staple part of the Peruvian diet, so I thought hey why not, with some spices and seasoning, it would be a cheap and filling (albeit a health wise debatable choice).

I wrote down  a few staple ingredients I'd need for Spanish rice: chili powder, garlic powder, bell peppers, etc. I had to go to the  mercado to buy some cheap sunglasses. My friend Leidy went with me because she had to buy some things for her sister's engagement party. As we walked around the food stalls, I decided to buy the chili powder and garlic powder at the mercado because it would be cheaper.

The first shop didn't have anything like that, but we found a shop with chili power and garlic in a liquid form. I happily paid my $1.76 US and went on my merry way.

Later, I went to the supermarket, and without any set recipe, or ingredient list, I purchased limes, peppers, rice, and bistec with lomo (I don't know exactly what it is, some cut of beef). I was excited to prepare my meal on Sunday.

I tried cooking some rice on Saturday night but I totally screwed it up. I added one cup of water to one cup of rice because I thought that's what the instructions (in Spanish) said. It was nasty and inedible. I added some chili powder and garlic - bad idea. The chili powder was really spicy.


About 6 p.m, I start preparing my meal. I cut up the limes, and squeezed the lime juice on the beef as a marinade. Now, remember, that my kitchen prep area is a glass computer desk that I also am using as a desk. My electric skillet doesn't have a long enough cord, so I just leave it on the floor.

Soon, the aroma of the lime juice soaked beef was wafting in the air. Learning from Saturday, I prepared a mixture of a little chili powder with water and poured it into the skillet. After the meat was done, I drained the water and added in the peppers and onions to saute. Things were smelling good. When the mixture was finished, I drained the water again, then realizing I should have saved it for the rice. I boiled the water, and added the rice. I cooked it for 20 minutes and added the meat and veggies back in for another few minutes. I added some garlic as well. I prepared myself a serving of the meal and sat down to eat.

Yet, nothing could prepare me for what I was about to taste or experience. No matter how good my intentions were, or how normal the food looked, I was in for a major surprise.

Pieces of meat and rice were so spicy, I thought flames would burst out of my mouth, pieces of pepper seemed to ignite my taste buds into oblivion. One last college try on a piece of pepper caused my mouth to feel like I had just licked the fiery furnaces of the 7th level of Hell. This was 1000 times worse than the Kansas City "Night of the Living Dead" BBQ sauce incident where I thought I was tough enough to handle the burn.

I went out to the fridge and grabbed the only thing besides water I had - pineapple juice. I slugged that down    and felt some relief... but as soon as the taste went away, the flames started up.  I briefly thought about asking my colleague who lives in the next room, if I could use some soy milk but I wasn't that desperate. I then just ate a piece of bread and that helped. My eyes also started watering, so naturally what do I do? I rub them...only to have my eyeballs turn inside out in their sockets as my eyelids contract and shrivel. I immediately ran to the bathroom and splashed water into my face, but that wasn't cutting it. I quickly ripped off my clothes and turned on the shower. Come on hot water, come on...the water needs to be at least tepid for me to get into the shower. Finally, it was tolerable, I jumped into the shower and let the water just pour over my eyes and face as they burned. After about 10 minutes of showering, I felt some relief.  3 hours later - the burn is still lingering and I blame "Top Chef" for it. I will just stick to peanut butter, tortillas, and tomatoes (not all at once!).  And the next time I'm feeling adventurous with food, I think I'll just try a new brand of fruit juice.