Flaming fish and luke warm chips

Last night we had something of a culinary catastrophe in the kitchen. A pretty impressive feat considering we were having take away.

Returning home with some fish and chips, my husband found me in the same position in front of the computer as I had been when he left, and not ready to eat as I should have been. Fearing the food would freeze over, (spring in Perth seems to be very backwards in coming forwards this year) he stuck it in the oven to keep warm until we were ready to eat.

All was fine until he came to take the fish out. Somehow, and we’re not sure how, the paper it was wrapped up in caught on fire on its way out of the oven. As Gorden Ramsey (the air turned a lovely shade of blue) stood in the middle of the kitchen holding the burning tray out, our natural sense of urgency and lightening fast reactions stepped up a gear. We both stood there, our mouths open as our dinner combusted in front of us and did nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Well when I say nothing, what I mean is we stood there watching the flames leap higher and higher and the paper burn faster and faster. Our daughter stood nearby, watching us and no doubt wondering why her parents were being so completely useless in such a potentially dangerous situation.

The reason for our obvious lack of fire drill skills and our indecisive nature was the dilemma that we were both silently mulling over. The bonfire before us was, after all, still our dinner. We were both starving hungry and more to the point reluctant to wave goodbye to $16 worth of fish. If we sprayed the tray with the fire extinguisher (the one that we bought in case such a fire should ever occur) then the fish would be rendered completely inedible. If we doused it with water, it would be soggy.

When we realised that we couldn’t blow the fire out and it wasn’t going to simmer down by itself, my husband carried the blazing fish out into the garage and stood next to my car. Or should I say rather he stood next to just under half a tank of petrol. Genius move. If we set fire to the garage we could also BBQ the entire contents of the house at the same time.

Eventually we moved away from the fuel tank and put the snapper, which was now on it’s last fins, on the ground in front of us. At this point my common sense finally woke and my Girl Scout training kicked in. I wet a tea towel and threw it over the tray. Ruined the tea towel I have to say, but a small price to pay I suppose.

Now most people would probably have binned the burnt offering and thrown out the remains, smouldering fishy funeral pyre and all. Not us. Oh no. We picked off the worst of the burnt paper, whipped the chips out of the oven and sat down to eat.

Funnily enough I’d lost the edge off my appetite by this time, which was just as well. I’d like to say that aside from the overpowering whiff of ashes and the fairly unpleasant carcinogenic taste that it wasn’t too bad, but I’d be lying. It was absolutely disgusting. Ketchup, it seems can only do so much to mask charcoal. Worst of all by this stage, despite it’s roasting the fish was stone bloody cold and the chips were soggy.

So what did I learn from this? Well never to put hunger before a house fire for one, and I suppose never to let small children, pets or husbands loose when armed with an oven mitt.

Interestingly enough and actually fairly worrying now I come to think of it, the smoke detector never went off. Normally if I toast bread on any setting higher than level 2 it bursts my ear drums, yet it failed to so much as beep with a greasy flaming fish flam-baying less than 3 feet away. Hmmmmm. I really must check that battery….

I should add (otherwise I will never be cooked for again) that despite nearly burning down the house, my lovely husband is normally a budding Jamie Oliver. Only better looking..

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