Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Great Expectations (not about the book) (08/25/11)
TITLE: Romey's Dinner
By Sara Harricharan
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Turning it over, she skimmed the preparation instructions printed on the back. It seemed easy enough—there were only four steps—and nine ingredients. Humming to herself, Romey began.
It took a few minutes to hunt down the desired stock pot and measuring cups. She hummed her way through setting the water to boil.
The ingredients for pasta alla puttanesca were found in the bottom of the pantry and assembled in a straight line. Each container held the perfectly measured portion allotted as rich, spicy scents wafted through the air. Romey paused in her ingredient managing to pop a CD in the music player and put the washing machine to fill.
There was no harm in multitasking.
She remembered, belatedly, to add salt to the warming water. To her surprise, adding salt to the hot water producing a rolling set of bubbles. The pot was ready.
Romey ripped off the pasta box top and poured the contents in the boiling pot as per the package’s instructions. A yawn burst from her lips as she squinted at the package. Her current lack of sleep was catching up with her late dinner habits and at present, her eyes refused to cooperate.
The words on the box meshed into a blurry muddle of white and black. Romey sighed, tossing the empty box on the kitchen counter and trooping to the laundry room. She put on a load of clothes to wash, thinking as hard as she dared to try and recall what she’d remembered reading on the back of the box.
It’d been at least two weeks since she’d purchased the pasta and the ingredients. She remembered leaving the ingredients in a grocery bag in the bottom corner of the pantry.
Her stomach rumbled and Romey returned to the stove, glancing at the stovetop clock to find herself squinting again. The once bright, large numbers turned into a colored blur. “Glasses.” She muttered, rubbing her eyes, but staying where she was. Such action would take too much energy.
Romey returned to her culinary experiment to find her pasta happily churning away. Panic set in as she scrambled about reading the box’s instructions and double-checking the puttanesca ingredients.
Fat, hot noddles bubbled as Romey fished out the oven mitts from a kitchen drawer and lugged the heavy pot off the stovetop and to the sink. She poured the boiling contents into a colander, watching steam rise from the puddle of pasta.
Tossing the freshly cooked noodles with oil, she followed the next steps in her ingredient list. She dumped the pasta back into the pot and generously poured the spices over the top along with the necessary liquids.
She stirred it in and frowned as the slippery noodles seemed to stick to her giant serving spoon. Pasta alla puttanesca had sounded quite tasty some time ago, but now she found herself wondering whether she could stomach the final result.
The strangely colored pasta refused to play nice with her other ingredients. The olives floated atop the noodles while the capers and anchovies stuck together. Romey scowled. “Just mix up already!”
Her growling stomach protested at the sight of the strangely colored mess before her. It smelled much better than it looked and she figured her luck would hold—after all, she’d managed to cook dinner and do laundry—all on the same night. That was certainly progress.
Armed with a full plate and a bottle of soda from the ‘fridge, Romey retired to the sofa to enjoy a late dinner and favorite TV show. She settled into the comfy cushions, her attention already captured by the images dancing across the screen of the TV.
Absently spooning the pasta to her mouth, Romey chewed slowly as the credits began to play onscreen.
Her eyes grew wide and one hand flew to her mouth as she leapt from the sofa and headed straight for the kitchen garbage can. She sighed. That was no puttanesca.
Moving along the counter, she picked up each ingredient bottle and checked the contents.
Her mistake was evident at the very end—she hadn’t grabbed a bottle of balsamic vinegar, but rather, a thinned version of light molasses.
“Pasta alla disasta.” She scraped the serving into the garbage.
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