Tuesday, May 14, 2013

...the Hammer and Nails

A hammer and nails aren't items one associates with food, which was probably the main contributor to the "Coconut Lamb Curry Catastrophe" I mentioned in my last post.

For some reason, my parents decided to make Coconut Lamb Curry for dinner. I was about seven, and it was a very memorable event for several reasons:

One: It was the first time I'd seen my father in the kitchen doing anything except getting something from the fridge. He was actually going to cook and he was going to cook with Mom!

Two: They didn't have a hammer and nails.  We lived in a rented apartment and my dad was a computer guy.  Screwdrivers we had, hammers we didn't.

Three: Because they didn't have a hammer and nails, Mom almost stabbed herself through her palm.

Memorable, very.

I wasn't a picky eater, but I'd never heard of Lamb Curry. I asked what my seven-year old self considered to be the most important question:

"It doesn't have peas, does it?"

"No peas."


Peas, the little green balls of yuck were my vegetable nemesis. The last time Mom tried to make me to eat peas was when I was four. She used the "You're not leaving the table until you eat your peas." gambit. We sat down to dinner at 6:30 p.m and she gave up at 11:00 p.m. because she was tired.

Did I mention that I'm one of the stubbornest people I know?

After that, Mom and I reached a sort of détente when it came to the vegetable from hell. They could be in the food, but I could pick them out.


I sat in the dinning room where I could watch this first-of-its-kind event.

In the kitchen, Mom and Dad were huddled over a big hairy coconut.

"How do we open it?"  Mom asked.

"We need to poke a hole in one those three holes and pry it open," My Dad replied, seeming ever so confident in his knowledge of coconuts.

My Dad was a smart man and he sounded really sure, so mom agreed.

...As I subsequently learned, my dad's coconut opening advice was bad...very bad.

They now had their backs facing me and stood between me and the coconut.

I couldn't see a thing, but I could hear just fine.

Suddenly, I heard a quick succession of three sounds:  Mom's shriek in Italian, Dad's shouts about violating the coconut, and said coconut as it hit the floor and rolled out of the kitchen.

The coconut was followed by Mom. She also ran out of the kitchen, but came back a few minutes later with a big band aid.

I remember thinking that this couldn't be a good sign, but I kept silent, not wanting to be caught in the crossfire.

I later found out that Mom took a short bladed knife, held the coconut in one hand and used her other hand to try and poke the knife through one of the three "coconut holes." The knife slipped and grazed the side of her hand. If she hadn't dropped the coconut, the knife would have gone through her palm.

By some miracle they managed to finish the dish. But that was as far as Divine intervention went. To me it didn't even look like food, and it seemed my parent's agreed.

....we all had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner that night.

This story does have an epilogue:

Later that week, Mom bought a hammer and some nails, and while I don't think she was going to use them on my Dad, she did hide them.

The stubby knife was now missing it's tip. Mom kept it until the day she died, as a reminder of the dangers inherent in coconuts, and in listening to my Dad.

....Did I mention that my parents eventually divorced? 

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a blog of exploration, discovery, and recovery