Another question for Karl Dandenell

Q: What is the most effort you’ve ever put into making dinner?

A: Once, when trying to impress a date, I attempted to make surf and turf with rice pilaf on an old electric stove that had only 3 functional burners. I went to three stores (and spent most of my grocery budget for the week) to get all the ingredients.

I’d never cooked lobster before, and didn’t think to follow a recipe. I also used a cut of filet minion suitable for a single serving (not two). And I started the rice pilaf 35 minutes before my date was supposed to arrive.

Now rice pilaf takes a long time to cook properly – you really need to mince the onion and use a hot pan — but not too hot — to get the rice consistency just so. You also have to keep an eye on things. If the stock boils too fast, things burn. Too slow, and you get soup. Ideally, I like about 45 minutes to do the dish properly.

So, with minimal counter space, I tried to balance the prep and cooking for three dishes with the goal of having everything finished at the same time.

I was not successful. The steak was fine, the lobster passable, but the pilaf turned into porridge.

Still, two out of three was enough to impress the young lady.


Karl Dandenell’s story “Papa Pedro’s Children” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 28 July 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.