Every wife has a story about cooking a really bad dinner. I remember mine like it happened yesterday. My husband and I were newly married, and we lived in a two story place right across the highway from the Purina Dog Food plant. Every night, if we left the windows open, we could smell the aroma of freshly baked Dog Chow. Talk about prime real estate....if you're a canine. Thankfully we were only renting. We learned a valuable tool about selecting a home.....location, location, location. Anyway, I was working full time at a large animal veterinary practice, and my husband was working for a pipeline company. We both put in long hours, and the last thing we wanted to do when we got home late at night was cook. I tried my best to throw quick meals together, and for the most part we survived. Except for that one time. The time I made the world's worst dinner.
It was the beginning of Lent, and my husband's family is full of devout Catholics. My mother-in-Law went to Sam's Club and purchased us a full case of canned tuna fish for Friday meals. I am not Catholic, but I certainly did not want to offend those who were, so I decided to prepare a delightful Tuna Casserole for my new groom on Friday night. I didn't know the first thing about preparing this sort of thing, but we had ten cans of Tuna to use up and I didn't want to waste it. I read the directions....twice. I mixed and measured, and baked it in a casserole dish. I lightly sprinkled the top with buttered corn flakes crushed up. I poured my blood, sweat, and tears into that dish. And I have to say that I was a little disappointed from the start because it looked less than appetizing right out of the oven. I don't like monochromatic dishes, ones that lack pizazz in the color department. This dish was a sickening shade of grayish, yellow. It smelled like tuna. I wasn't sure about the end product, but I served it up in a lovely bowl.
We said the blessing and then stared each other down. Who was going to be the brave one? Not me, that's for sure! My husband took the first bite. He tried to mask his reaction. After all, we had only been married a few months. He wouldn't dare crush my spirit for fear of eating frozen dinners for the rest of his life. But I could tell he hated it from the first bite. It couldn't be that bad, could it? I lifted my fork to my mouth. Down the hatch! It was so rancid that I couldn't even swallow it. I spit it back into the bowl. “Man, that's really gross!” I said. I quickly snatched his bowl from him so he didn't have to smell it, or look at it anymore. Then my husband got the brilliant idea to feed it to our dog. Boone inhaled half of the bowl, and then promptly turned and hurled it all over our carpet. “That was so bad, it made the dog throw up!” my husband laughed. I was mortified. I took the Tuna Casserole, and dumped the whole thing into the trash can and cleaned the barf out of the carpet. It smelled like Tuna for days! After we cleaned up the disaster, we hopped in the truck and went to the nearest fast food location. I vowed NEVER to make Tuna casserole again.
I'm happy to report that my cooking skills have improved over the last ten years. The pain of that night has diminished over time, but the memory of that meal will live on forever thanks to my husband. Every now and then, out of the blue, he'll say, “Remember that time you baked Tuna Casserole and made the dog puke?” How could anyone forget that wretched day?