Several years ago, when I was a member of our church’s choir, I invited four of my fellow choir members over for dinner. The main dish was Chicken Breasts Diane; I tried my hand at twice-baked potatoes for the first time; the vegetable was steamed zucchini; and the dessert was a sugar-free, fat-free cream-pie-thing I whipped up.
Everything was going well when my friends began to show up. I’d coordinated the cooking so that the food would be ready to set on the table hot from the oven and stove. The last thing I did was to steam the zucchini so it would still be hot when I placed it on the table with everything else.
You know how steamed veggies seem to get cold fast, right? I didn’t want them to be cold.
Rewind to a couple years earlier. I’d been in a near-fatal automobile accident and came out of it with numerous injuries. One of those injuries was a fractured sphenoid sinus. (Say THAT three times fast.) The sinus was supposedly healed, but one residual effect was that I couldn’t smell odors unless I was right on top of them.
It’s caused problems more often than I like to admit.
As the zucchini steamed away, so did the water in the bottom of the pan. Carol, who had been watching things progress, said, “Paula, your pan is on fire.”
Yep, it sure was.
The pan had boiled dry and, well, it was time to turn the burner off. “Oh, wow,” I said. (Or something like that.) I took the pan off the stove, put the zucchini in a bowl and set it on the table with the rest of the meal. We sat down, said grace, and began to eat.
Everyone took a little of everything, I guess, including the steamed zucchini. Dinner conversation was a little stilted after a few minutes until I took a bite of my green veggie.
“This stuff is burnt!” I said. “Why are you guys eating it?” I scraped it to the side of my plate. I apologized to my friends and, you know what? They were so kind to me. I was so embarrassed. My smeller didn’t catch the scent of burnt zucchini and no one said a word.
Now that’s love in action.
They sat there eating that scorched zucchini and extended grace to me. Every time I think of this episode in my life––and believe me, with a nose that doesn’t work like it should, there have been many such episodes––I laugh.
In fact, I’ve been laughing out loud the whole time I’ve been writing this blog post.
But I also feel extremely grateful.
We’ve all had our cooking failures. I have some that have nothing to do with not being able to smell.
Since it’s the day after Thanksgiving, I thank Amy, Carol, Brooke and Carol for the gift of grace. You know, of course, grace is unmerited favor. I surely didn’t deserve what they offered, and friends who love like that are worth keeping.
Next time, though, I’m going to nuke the zucchini.