|Chef Evil Dr. Mathra|
|August 29, 2004|
I've got another piece on MSNBC.com up -- this one is me dissing Food Network chefs in the guise of finding "The Next Martha Stewart."
I think this is a good time to mention that I am not the only chef in this apartment. My husband -- the Evil Dr. Mathra as he's affectionately known over at Television Without Pity -- has quite a cooking repertoire all his own.
For starters, he makes the perfect pot of coffee. We've had our coffee maker for four years -- it was a Valentine's Day present from him to me -- and over those years, Dr. Mathra has elevated brewing the bitter beverage to a science. He meditates on the water to grounds ratio. He schedules regular cleanings with vinegar soaks. Every morning he has me fill out a detailed quiz to determine if the current cup is too weak or too sour. Alton Brown is his god and "True Brew" is his Bible.
I think only the obsessed Nero Wolfe watchers/readers among will get why that's funny. Then again, maybe only Dr. Mathra and I will ever think it's funny. We have weird senses of humor. Or is it sense of humors? No, that can't be right because humor with an "s" reminds me of the bodily humors like yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm, and I really don't feel like revisiting Sandra Lee territory right now.
We make our tacos with ground turkey, spices, and scallions added at the last minute. The magic happens when Dr. Mathra browns the meat with such patience and concentration that the ground turkey stays juicy and flavorful. Additional flavor also comes from the secret mixture of spices he adds somewhere in the process. All I do is put out the condiments and chop the scallions. I crave those tacos.
Manning the Grill
Okay, for us it's a grill pan, but it still seems to be Dr. Mathra's territory. I'm not saying I can't handle the task, nor am I seeking to perpetuate the notion that grilling is a man's work. Nope. I'm just impatient and have been known to flip fish too soon or prod porkchops impatiently. Grilling makes me fidgety because the meat's just sitting there, out in the open, begging me to fiddle with it every few seconds. Not so for Dr. Mathra. The meat (or fish) goes on and he sits back, keeps one eye on the clock, and smacks my interfering hands away with the spatula.
I'm convinced that what has kept me healthy all these years are Dr. Mathra's hot toddies. As soon as I feel a tickle in my throat, Dr. Mathra is in the kitchen, cutting lemons, boiling water, measuring Wild Turkey bourbon, and crushing cloves and cinnamon sticks to mix in with a dollop of local honey. On several occasions I have impotently attempted to make my own hot toddies, but they never measure up. I either add so much lemon that my teeth actually squeak, or I can't get the spices to steep properly. After a night that includes one or two Irish coffee glassfuls of Dr. Mathra's Magical Malady Medicine, I wake up without a trace of a sniffle and not a touch of sore throat.
But the very best service Dr. Mathra does for our kitchen comes when he doesn't think twice about running out to the store at the last minute whenever I have forgotten something. Which, because I'm not always good with the planning, happens more often than I'd like to admit.
He's all embarrassed by this entry but he deserves a lot more space than just this tiny column. He just won't recognize it.
Happy One Year San Franniversary, Dr. Mathra. I love you and I love this city.