Once when I was a young boy I played dolls with my sister. We were in her room hiding behind the big table of drawers. I spread a towel on the wooden floor and sat myself on one end. My sister was opposite me. I placed one of her Barbies in between us and announced, "we're going on a picnic."
"But we don't have any food!" my sister protested.
"Oh yes we do," I replied as I unclasped the hook of Barbie's black slacks and pulled them down.
"Where? Mama's not done cooking yet."
"We're going to have lechon manok!" I undid the tiny buttons of the pink jacket. The sequins glittered and felt rough beneath my fingers. My sisters eyes widened with excitement.
"Really? But I didn't see any chicken downstairs."
"Basta, go get the utensils in the drawer."
My sister got up to get the utensils. I slipped Barbie's jacket off her arms. She lay naked in front of me. I ran a finger down from in between her breasts to her smooth plastic stomach. My sister came back and set the plastic cutlery on the towel.
"There's no chicken, but we're going to pretend Barbie is a chicken and cook her!" I announced. I grabbed the knife and sawed at Barbie's legs. The plastic edge bit a little into the rubber and no further. Annoyed, I took one leg in each of my hands and stretched them apart until the joints joining the leg to the torso popped.
"See, a drumstick!" I bit into the thigh triumphantly. My sister was silent, her eyes tearing up. "Don't you want one?" I asked as I offered her the other leg. She shook her head sadly. I bit away contentedly. "What a picnic!"
Several years later, rummaging through that chest of drawers, I found the quartered Barbie under an old table cloth. Her leg still bore the marks my nine-year-old teeth left on them
I can trace the history of my failed relationship with cooking back to my early childhood. My sister and I baked too-soft mudcakes, brewed pungent bougainvillea wine, and burnt barbequed leaves on a stick.
When I was in the UKR, I tried making plov. (Plov, by the way, is such an amazing way to cook rice that I am surprised it is not more popular in our country.) On the day I decided to try my hand at it, I went on the Internet and got a dozen recipes, read all about the proper cooking techniques in forums, and interviewed my friends on how their moms cooked it. I was as prepared as prepared could be. Anyway, at last the big day came and I made my claim. "Oh don't take away the baby," they shrieked and screeched. Oops, I digress. Anyway, at last the big day came. Recipes in hand, I took the leap and came back with... a sloppy porridge and a burned pot to show for my trouble. :| Well, as they say, slowly and surely wins the race and practice makes better so I cooked and cooked and ate plov in varying degrees of bad cooking for a month. By the time I came home I was an expert at cooking it. I still can't be trusted with the rice cooker though.