Facebook fans and friends may have already seen the photo below. Take a good look and tell me what you think it is.
Suggestions so far are “art”, “a nat. Or maybe two nats” (what is a nat?), “plastic bottle sculpture”, “gelato”, “cake icing”, “melted plastic bottles” and “weird-flavoured icecream”.
If you look at the second photo, you’ll see the answer. Jean Michel and I both wear contact lenses and because we like to keep spare cases in our bike bags, toilet cases, glove boxes, etc., we regularly sterilise the free ones you get with the lens solution. I have a very bad habit of putting things on the stove and forgetting about them.
I’m working away and can smell something burning. I think it must be my laptop so I turn it off and go to the kitchen to make some tea. That’s when I see (and smell) the saucepan. Here is this molten mass in pretty shades of blue and green. I yank the saucepan off the stove then wonder what I should do with it.
I refrain from pouring it down the sink and clogging it up again the way I did last week with the contents of another burnt saucepan. Jean Michel spent quite some time getting that fixed. I put the saucepan down again and quickly get some alfoil out the drawer, tear off a sheet and pour the mess onto it. I then use a spoon to dig the rest of the molten plastic out of the saucepan. That’s a stupid move as the spoon becomes coated. I put my thumb on it to clean the spoon and burn my thumb. I discover we have no burn cream, well, not that I can locate anyway.
However, I see that once the plastic sets, you can peel it off. That’s OK for the spoon but doesn’t help the triple-bottom stainless steel saucepan. Usually when I burn saucepans, I pour bleach in (eau de javel) which is not at all environment-friendly, I know, but saves hours scouring the saucepan. It works remarkably well. The thing I burn the most is the meat sauce for lasagna. Spinach comes a close second.
The bleach doesn’t make much difference so I open all the windows to try and get rid of the smell and go back to work. In the meantime, Jean Michel had been repairing the portable airconditioner which I may or may not have been responsible for breaking. It has a second half to it that sits on the balcony and is attached by an unwieldy umbilical cord that contains little tubes with refrigerated liquid and air inside a metal sheath that musn’t get twisted or they’ll break.
Well, they did get twisted somehow and the air-conditioning gave up the ghost so he’s spent quite a few hours shortening and repairing the tubes and soldering the metal sheath with the help of a friend. Although he has expertise in air-conditioning and refrigeration he hasn’t used it for many years so he’s been reading up on it. The air-conditioner’s been recharged with gas and he calls me to tell me the friend’s going to help him carry it up the stairs.
I’m worried about the smell but Jean Michel doesn’t notice it and the friend is probably too polite to say anything. I do, however, confess to the saucepan as we’re cycling along the Marne towards the old chocolate factory.
He says I should use a razor blade but it doesn’t seem to have any effect. He has a go and eventually gets some of the plastic off and I take over from there, using a lot of elbow grease and steel wool until the saucepan’s finally clean.
I’d like to be able to say that it’s the last time I’ll burn a saucepan but can you really teach an old dog new tricks?