He’s not a fan of vegetables, she confided via encrypted email. Too mushy, he claims. Could I help?
I didn’t know her. I didn’t know him. But it sounded serious. Sometimes a cook has to step out of her kitchen and stare down trouble. I took the case.
I packed my tools: knives, aprons, scale; I packed my technique: high heat. At the airport, I picked them out of the crowd with ease: pale, low on greens.
Back at their place, we worked through pastry, pasta, pan sauce. The room fell silent. I leveled with the guy: You don’t like vegetables. He threw his wife a desperate look. She had turned him in.
Don’t worry, I said. We’ll make ’em crisp. We gutted a pound of Brussels sprouts and splayed them flat onto the sheet pan. I gave it to him straight: 450 degrees. He looked skeptical but turned the oven up and slid the pan in. He talked about his father, who survived the war on sprouts and never downed another. I turned a cold shoulder and pulled out the hot pan.
The compact cabbages bristled deep brown — brittle outside and buttery within. We speared and bit. She smiled. He smiled. If only his dad could have met the enemy in peacetime.
My work there was done. I packed my knives, but not my vigilance. The cook never knows when trouble may strike. Again.