On Cooking Injuries
After a pretty busy week, we decided to stay in last Friday. Sometimes, just kicking back with a couple people, cooking up some good food and decorating cookies is the perfect way to end the week. The plan was set: A couple people were coming over around 6 p.m. for dinner. After figuring out the menu (red curry chicken, coconut shrimp and jasmine rice), we set out to get our Thai feast ready for our friends. As Shiraaz breaded the shrimp, I chopped veggies and got my curry simmering. Since I was already at the stove, I also set a little pot of oil to heat. Some time went by, and things were going well...until I noticed a small plume of smoke rising from the oil. I didn't know this at the time, but canola oil has a smoke point of nearly 400°F. What I did know was that continuing to heat that oil would be a bad idea, so I did what any insane person would do: I tried to move it off the burner. More concerned with flaming oil than potential injuries, I didn't expect the scalding liquid to slosh over the side, burning off a quarter-sized section of my skin and singeing the knuckles and fingers on my left hand.
Thankfully, the burn job was so swift, so complete, that I barely felt it. I had my hand under cold, running water almost immediately and two Advil down my throat soon after that. Now, a week later, it's still bandaged up, slathered with prescription burn cream and painful sometimes, but I'm grateful that it's actually quite minor. It truly looks worse than it is and aside from taking care not to bump into things, there's nothing I can't do. So I injured my non-dominant hand. So what?
Except it's not that easy. As a person who enjoys cooking and prides herself on being pretty good at it, getting injured in the kitchen is an insult. Statistically speaking, it was bound to happen. Between the sharp knives, frequent spills and extreme temperatures that inhabit most kitchens (especially one as, ahem, cozy as mine), I couldn't go forever without a single serious ding. So why does it bother me so much? Until Friday, I'd never seriously injured myself or sent a dish up in flames. No need to knock on wood now; my perfect run snapped faster than the Bulls dismantled the Heat two weeks ago. More than the physical pain, it was my ego that hurt, which led me to wonder: Is there any merit to being "perfect" in the kitchen?
As if to foreshadow and then answer my ponderings, I'd been ripping through Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential all last week. As the famed and deranged chef detailed his experience working in all manner of kitchens, I learned (or was perhaps simply reminded) that cooking injuries, like all other scars, are souvenirs, mementos of the things you tried and maybe even pulled off. It turns out that kitchen injuries, especially the scarring kind, are nothing more than badges earned by people who dare to do more than boil pasta. But you already knew that, didn't you?
Now, the healing process continues, and it promises to be a slow one. I'm a little worried about potential scarring but I'm mostly just happy my body is taking the steps it's supposed to in order to get back to normal. Plus, getting my bruised ego in check has done wonders.
Have you ever injured yourself in the kitchen? What steps did you take to recover and do you have any tips for someone in my position? Please leave a note in the comments.
PS: I liked these, and you will too.
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Featured image by Carree.