I took Cooking as a bird class in high school. At the time, I was too immature to realize how truly innovative my high school was to even offer this class. In the first half of the semester we had cooking lessons and demonstrations, and during the second half, the class ran a restaurant as an alternative to the cafeteria. Some of us were cooks and some of us were servers. Teachers and students could come and get served by my class. That’s pretty amazing, now that I look back on it.
But back then, I was not as impressed. I skipped a lot of the classes, and I pretty much managed to avoid any real cooking. Ovens, stoves and deep fryers terrified me. I always volunteered to serve, and then begged my friends to come dine-in and be my only table. That way, I didn’t have to do any real work throughout the entire term. The final exam, however, was practical. We would have to prepare one of the 8 options from the menu for our teacher.
I went into that exam naively optimisticly. I could make salad. My part time job after school was tossing salads and plating desserts. I was an expert at making a delicious Greek Salad entree, no problem. And how hard could grilling a tiny piece of chicken to go on top? I expected to find out that day.
My jaw dropped to the floor when I heard that we would not get to choose which meal we would get to prepare. My plans shattered. The teacher explained that he had put all the possible dishes into a hat, and we were to choose the one we had to cook to be graded on at random! Then we would have an hour to complete it. It was like a Masterchef pressure test, years before the program premiered.
Still grasping at my feigned confidence, I took a slip when it was my turn. I squeezed it in the palm of my fist, wishing it to say Greek Salad. When I unfolded it, I was extremely disappointed. My assignment was, “vegetarian omelette.”
Oh shit. Full disclosure, I barely knew what an omelette was when I was 16. I knew it involved eggs, but my family never was a breakfast family. I glanced around the room anxiously, trying to see who got the Greek salad, hoping they would switch with me. It was no use, my classmates were already eagerly moving toward the fridge to get started. Keeners. I was on my own. I cursed myself for not paying more attention during the cooking demonstrations, and for not making any friends who could bail me out of this.
My vegetable chopping skills were good, so I did that first. I had spent Sundays for the past year cutting vegetables to go into the salads at work. I grabbed the appropriate cutting boards and knives and showed off my impressive knife skills as my teacher walked by observing.
But I could only avoid the star of my dish for so long. Reluctantly, I walked over to the walk-in cooler and grabbed three eggs. I placed them on the metal prep table next to my vegetables, in the back of the kitchen. Then I went to fetch a bowl to crack them into. As I returned, I noticed something was amiss. There were only two out of the three eggs left at the corner of the table where I’d left them. I frowned suspiciously. Who’d stolen my egg?!
Then I saw it. A huge splatter of yellow goo on the white floor beside the table. Crap. My bad. I hadn’t realized that eggs could roll. I put the metal bowl I’d acquired on the table next to my veggies and two remaining eggs before running to grab some paper towel and clean up the egg shell and guts. I quickly wiped at the floor and threw out any evidence of the spill without my teacher noticing. Phew. Now it was time to start cooking.
When I returned from the garbage, only my bowl and veggies were left at the corner of the table. The other two eggs had rolled off the other edge on the table and smashed onto the floor as I had been cleaning up the first one. No way. It was unimaginable. How could I have made the same mistake twice?! Again, I quickly cleaned up my mess, careful that nobody realized how careless I had been. Nobody did. Then I ran back to the fridge, gathered three more eggs and an additional bowl to hold those rolling nuisances as I cracked them.
After that point, it should have been smooth sailing, except for the fact that I had never cracked an egg before. My ginger tapping of the egg against the bowl did absolutely nothing. Not even a dent. So I stepped it up a notch. With all my might, I brought that egg to the lip of the bowl. The egg exploded, half onto the bowl, half back onto my white school golf shirt. I cleaned the shell out of my hair as I scurried for another egg and bowl.
Eight eggs and a lot of panic later, the period ended as I was awkwardly transferring my under-cooked scrambled egg vegetable explosion onto a plate. Needless to say, I didn’t do so well on that exam. I passed the course but just barely.
Luckily, I’m a much better cook now, but I’m still not a huge fan of eggs.