Thursday, January 17, 2013
Culinary Competition Gone Bad
Hey, there. It’s me—Victor. You know—Jordan’s partner in crime. I swear, whenever we get together, trouble always follows us. Like the time we went on a Caribbean cruise so Jordan could judge a culinary contest.
Please! Anyone who knows Jordan knows she wouldn’t know a pate from a good bean dip!
This time she was the only one on board the Carnation Queen who suspected something sinister was going on when that arrogant—but hunky—Italian chef keeled over in his signature halibut dish during the Greased Lightening round of the competition. It darn near got her killed.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Most of the cruise was a blast, especially during the appetizer portion of the contest when Jordan discovered what sweetbread really was. The girl thought it was a Chicken McNugget. Can you believe that? I’m pretty sure I hurt myself laughing over that one.
Yep, I love that girl, but she does keep me entertained. Here’s the way the sweetbread thing went down.
Glancing down at the appetizer, Jordan was surprised to see that it resembled a chicken nugget. So far she'd made it through four of the appetizers without making a complete fool of herself. She was pleased to see that the last entry might be something she actually enjoyed.
Reaching for one of the chunks, she dipped it into the sauce. As soon as she popped the morsel into her mouth, she let out a relieved breath. Although it didn't taste exactly like a chicken nugget, it was close enough that she was ready to declare Marsha and her sweetbread the overall winner.
She ate the other two chunks, pleased with herself for having survived the evening. With her lips still burning from the jalapeño dip, she wiped her mouth with the clean napkin across her lips then pushed the plate to the side. Choosing the scorecard with Marsha's name, she scribbled a big 4.5, taking off half a point for the sauce. If it had been served with a nice avocado ranch or a creamy honey mustard dip on the side, she would have given it a perfect score.
“It looks like we’re ready to hear the judges’ decision,” Emily said, moving to stand beside Marsha. “This is the all- important vote where we find out who is eliminated tonight and who wins and gets an advantage in tomorrow night’s competition. Judges?”
Somehow Marsha had managed to open the top button of her purple sweater. Even though most of her chest was covered by the apron, a tiny bit of her ample cleavage peeked through. A visual designed to get the judges’ attention, which it definitely had. Poor Beau was nearly foaming at the mouth.
What was it about men and boobs?
“George, what did you think of Marsha’s sweetbread?” Emily asked.
Christakis eyed her for a moment, glancing once toward Beau, making Jordan wonder if he knew something was going on between him and Marsha. Then he held up the card with a large 3 scribbled on it. For a minute, Jordan thought the audible gasp had come from her, but then she realized it had actually been Marsha, who was now staring at Christakis in disbelief.
“Although I love sweetbread and I appreciate the rich white sauce you made, I found the glands to be overcooked and gristly. It would have worked so much better if you had spent a little more time sautéing them rather than frying them in the oil.”
Glands? Jordan squeezed her eyes closed, grabbed the napkin, and spit into it, but the morsels were long gone. Catching her breath, she looked up to see that everyone was staring, and she felt heat crawl up her cheeks.
“You cooked glands?” Her eyes begged Marsha to deny it.
“Yes. It's one of my favorite appetizers.”
Jordan took several deep breaths in a row, hoping to push back the lump in her throat threatening to ruin her debut as a cooking judge. “What kind of glands?” she whispered, so low that only those close to her could hear.
Christakis twisted in his chair to face her, laughter in his eyes. “The thymus gland. What did you think sweetbread was?”
There was no way she'd admit she thought she had eaten chunks of fried chicken. “I figured it was glands, but I wasn't sure what kind,” she lied.
Mentally, she slapped her head for the lame response. She knew it was glands but didn't know what kind?
This time Christakis couldn't hide his glee and bit his lips in a futile attempt to keep from showing it.
And what in God’s name was a thymus gland, anyway?
You’ll have to pick up a copy of MURDER FOR THE HALIBUT to find out what happened. In the meantime, I’m curious. What’s your favorite appetizer?