My wife, Lynda, is a very good cook and I have the waistline to prove it. She prepares and serves not only traditional Southern dishes such as country-fried steak smothered in onion gravy with white rice and hot biscuits but ventures into gourmet cooking as well. Many of her gourmet dishes are the result of her ability to taste restaurant cuisine and recreate it in her own kitchen. If she is unable to determine the exact ingredients and proportions of a particular restaurant offering she will unashamedly ask the waiter to request the recipe or, failing to get an adequate response to her request, boldly walk unannounced into the chef’s kitchen and charm the recipe from the cook. She also watches The Food Network shows which feature a lot of recipes that originate in other countries as well as the imagination of the chefs.
As the eventual beneficiary of her culinary expertise I assist her in every way including, of course, the consumption of the food. I cut up vegetables, peel potatoes, and, yes, even wash dishes. I also run errands. Although such assistance may sound trivial, when you live in the country such tasks often mean a trip to town in search of particular ingredients or utensils. The accomplishment of such tasks is not always as simple as it seems.
Late one afternoon Lynda was watching one of the celebrity chefs on The Food Network. (Thanks to this particular network, some cooks have attained the status of rock stars. Only in America.) This particular chef was instructing his viewers in the creation of one of his dishes. Lynda was frantically trying to write down the recipe as the chef was reciting it while simultaneously adding all the ingredients which had been previously proportioned, assembled and arranged in order of application prior to the show.
As soon as the chef had completed his recitation Lynda handed me her hastily scribbled recipe and said, “Run to the store and get this right away.” After pointing out to her that I really couldn’t make out some of her writing, she read the list to me.
“And a pound of frog rocks”, she concluded.
“Frog rocks? What are frog rocks?” I asked.
“I don’t know”, she answered, “but that’s what he said. It’s some kind of meat. Just ask the guy at the meat counter.”
Then I said, “You know, we can get this off his web site.”
To which she replied, “I’m not going to wait to figure out the technology needed for that. Just go get the stuff”. My wife is not computer friendly.
So I got in my pickup truck and drove ten miles to the closest grocery store. I inquired of the meat market supervisor as to the availability of “frog rocks”.
“What the —- are frog rocks?” he asked.
“I don’t know”, I responded. “My wife said you would know.”
“Can’t help you friend”, he concluded and went back to his meat cutting.
I went on to the next store, a bigger company and part of an international chain. I felt sure that they would have such an exotic ingredient as frog rocks.
I ask the meat market manager, “Y’all got any frog rocks”?
He looked at me with a kinda blank stare for a minute then said, “This some kinda trick question, buddy? I bet you’re on one of them reality shows like I seen on TV.” Then he looked around the store and asked, “Where’s the camera?”
I said, “No, no. My wife sent me to get this and she said you would know what it is”
“Buddy, I ain’t got a clue, camera or not”, he said as he retreated to the market still looking over his shoulder for a television camera.
I went to two more stores before I gave up the quest and went home. When I told my wife of my unsuccessful attempt to find frog rocks she questioned the sincerity of my effort.
“I can’t believe there are no frog rocks in that whole town!” she said. “Surely that is not such a rare item.”
“Have you personally ever seen any frog rocks?” I asked.
“No, but if it’s in that recipe they must exist”, she insisted.
I said, “Let’s look at that recipe again. Maybe you’ll know of something similar”.
We both read over her handwritten recipe to no avail. Finally, I said, “Let’s see if we can find it on his web site”. So we went to the computer, typed in the chef’s name and clicked on the date of his show and then on “recipes”. Sure enough, the recipe popped up and we read the list of ingredients including “foie gras”.
Somewhere between the chef’s foreign accent and our Southern ears goose liver got lost.
It was probably right there in the store between the liver pudding and the fresh pork sausage.