My Burnt Foot

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Picture it: my kitchen, last Thursday. I’m standing at the stove attempting to make Colman Andrews’ recipe for Rigatoni with Chickpeas and Anchovies from Nancy Silverton’s “A Twist of the Wrist” and I have a giant vat of water boiling for the pasta. The sauce is simple: you just take 12 anchovies, mash them up with salt, and then add one chopped up celery stalk and the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Only after opening the can and pouring the liquid in do I realize that somehow, quite strangely, I’d purchased kidney beans–even though I recall staring at a shelf of chickpeas at the store–and now the sauce is ruined.

Luckily, I have chickpeas in my cabinet (I’d forgotten I had them) and 12 more anchovies and another celery stalk so I start the process over from scratch. I mash the anchovies with salt, I add the celery and the chickpea liquid and then, when the water’s boiling, I add salt and half a box of rigatoni to the pot.

For the past 365 days, I’d been using Diana’s pot to make pasta. It’s the perfect size: big enough to let the pasta move around, small enough to maneuver easily. But when she moved out she took the pot with her. So all I have now is a small pot, too small for good pasta, and a giant stock pot. That’s what I’m using this night: the giant stock pot. It’s enormous, towering on the back of my stove, shaking with activity as the pasta cooks.

Here’s where I’m an idiot. Colman Andrews says to drain the pasta in the sink and to add the pasta back to the pot to toss with the anchovies, chickpea water, chickpeas, and Parmesan cheese. I like the idea of tossing all this around in the empty pot: the residual heat will cook everything a bit, bring it all together.

So I place a strainer in the sink and when the pasta’s done I lift my giant stock pot off the stove and move it to the sink. I tilt it away from me, so the boiling water tips out ino the sink, only the pot is so heavy that the motion causes me to lose my grip a bit and I proceed to pour scalding hot water–bubbling, bursting, brusing water–all over my foot.

My sock soaks up with the heat and I don’t even yell out. I do a sharp intake of breath and put the pot on the floor as I pull off my sock. Then I hop around and yelp: “Ow! Ow! Ow!”

I go to the couch and stare at my foot and there’s not much to see. But it burns like Anne Coulter’s vision for my life after death; and a few days later it looks like this. [WARNING: Do NOT show this picture to small children, bunnies, kittens, or anything else sweet and innocent and in danger of corruption–it will destroy their faith in humanity.] I am proud to say: this is my worst kitchen injury. Isn’t it cool?

But you must be wondering: how was the pasta? Was it worth it? Well this is what it looked like in the pot when I was ready to mix it all together, like Colman suggested:

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And here’s the finished bowl, garnished with celery leaves:

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What did I think? Was it worth all the stress? Do I need a podiatrist and/or a pedicurist? The answer: it was ok. I didn’t love it, but granted this pasta would have to be pretty fantastic to overcome the emotional strife it caused me. I liked the loud presence of the anchovies, but I longed for the garlic that would’ve made this “dressing” more Caesar-like. If I did it again, I’d have mashed up garlic with anchovies at the beginning.

But chances are, I won’t be doing this again: I’m suffering from Post Traumatic Pasta Disorder. Maybe, after years of therapy, I’ll be ready to make pasta again. If you see me cooking in rubber boots from now on, though, you’ll understand why.

21 comments

  1. Jesus, you poor man. (Though I think I’d rather have a scalded foot than a midterm I didn’t study for in the morning. But don’t quote me on that.) I’ve been lucky so far, feet-wise; though one time I splashed my stomach with boiling artichoke water. Blisters on the belly are NOT fun.

    Perhaps you could petition for the pot back? 1000+ signatures? Or perhaps pot-napping is in order . . .

  2. It’s like falling off a horse……you have to get right back on. When I was in culinary school I had a blender explode in my face, luckily I didn’t get it too bad. That was in front of 20 classmates and my first class at the CIA. I had to get right back up there and do it again…..

  3. Poor guy. Yours is actually a common kitchen accident. Try using a large strainer and then you can focus on pouring out the water without worrying about loosing the pasta in the bottom of the sink. They are usually cheaper than a new pot and they are handy when stir frying or deep frying as well.

    http://www.cookswarehouse.com/p-775-wmf-ladles.aspx

  4. Wow. I’ve done the same exact thing. Luckily when the boiling water hit my foot I was wearing Crocs so I didn’t get burned. =)

  5. adam, you’re too kind to coulter.

    But it burns like Anne Coulter’s vision for my life after death;

    why not just go with,

    “it burns like the vision of Anne Coulter.”

  6. Next time you visit the doctor, ask for Silvadene, a burn ointment containing silver sulfadiazine. Just keep it in the refrigerator for burns. The stuff is great, and it really helps burns heal well, and keeping it cool helps take away the pain (albeit briefly).

    I once burned all the skin off the bottom half of my forearm with a delicious but incendiary bowl of chicken & dumplings when I spilled it down the sleeve of the flannel shirt I was wearing. Silvadene was the only thing that helped, and now, where great sheets of skin once peeled off my arm I don’t even have a trace of a scar.

  7. OUCH. If I had done that to MY foot I would have been cursing loudly. So loudly that the dog and the husband would have been cowering behind the couch.

    Hope it feels better soon with no hint of scarring to remind you of that horrible night.

  8. I too burn myself on a regular basis. War wounds I call them. And that pasta combines everything I love – salt and carbs in all their glory. And chickpeas. So sad to hear it was disappointing, though I have to imagine part of that was due to latent hostility, so I think once you start down the road to recovery and this incident becomes a distant memory you should give it another shot. I could definitely see myself in the mood for that very, very soon. Hope the foot gets better soon.

  9. The next time shove your burned extremity into a bath of cold water while adding ice cubes and just hang out like that for a few. It will pull the hot out of the burn and you’ll be less likely to blister like you did.

  10. Haha wow I’m sorry! First of all, it seems Diana provided all the good cookware in your roommate relationship – go out and get new stuff! Secondly, I fully appreciated that Anne Coulter insult you weaved into the post – nice work! Feel better!

  11. OWWWWWWWCH!! I hope you were inspired to go out and get yourself a proper pasta pot.

    I can see why this was just okay…I’ve never been a fan of pasta with beans. It just seems like too much density and thickness in a dish, ya know?

    Sorry about your foot. Hope it heals soon.

  12. Holy smokes that must have hurt like heck. Hope you put a little gold star on your forehead for extreme effort after such a stressful situation. Had the same darn thing happen to me at a nursing home. Can still hear the giggles and sighs from the seniors who could still hear as I jumped and cursed in the cafeteria:-))

  13. Adam: you poor thing. I burned the heck out of my hand a few weeks ago and luckily, because I iced the shit out of it for two days straight, the blistering ended up being not too gross. After the skin hardened, it kind of fell off in a few big chunks and the new skin underneath was soft and lovely, with no scarring. Hang in there…. and congrats on the book.

  14. Adam: you poor thing. I burned the heck out of my hand a few weeks ago and luckily, because I iced the shit out of it for two days straight, the blistering ended up being not too gross. After the skin hardened, it kind of fell off in a few big chunks and the new skin underneath was soft and lovely, with no scarring. Hang in there…. and congrats on the book.

  15. Hi Adam — you poor man — but I have a feeling you are proud of this culinary incident and have been wearing flip flops to show off your foot (it is a nice foot btw).

    I burned myself with hot oil this past spring and have the scars on my arm to prove it, secretly I kind of love them.

    And please AC is not worthy of your blog!

  16. This is a great post! Your writing is very funny, and I love the way that you incorporate the recipe and the pasta into the sad story of burning your foot.

  17. YeeOWch, AG, that looks painful! My mom did a similar foot-poach last year, and on a summer camping trip I parboiled my hand with water for morning tea. It kills! I second the recommendation of ointment with silver in it, that helps a lot, but plain old Neosporin works too, really slather it on. Also, be careful in the sun — the new skin will burn very quickly, so be sure to put SPF on your feet. And get a new pasta pot! :)

  18. ROTFL! Welcome to my planet, Adam. At least you can’t say you botch every single recipe you try to that extent. The worst part is when it doesn’t even come out that tasty, for all your pain and suffering. Thank God for takeout.

    Didn’t one commentator here mention wearing Crocs when cooking? Well if they’re good enough for Mario…

  19. i hope that you’ve been to the doctor or at least are nursing that thing with neosporin and a bandage!! blisters like that can get infected and i believe they indicate third degree burns. i did this same thing to both of my feet once. it’s amazing how INCREDIBLY hot that sock gets, isn’t it? i actually had burn marks on my feet in the pattern of the sock knit. keep the neosporin on there and you won’t be able to see a thing.

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