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I’ve had one cooking accident before. Exactly one. It involved a mandolin and a lost fingertip, and I learned my lesson almost immediately afterward — it was that using a mandolin to slice potatoes is a lot more dangerous than what they make it seem on Chopped.
Ever since then, I make sure to take every precaution possible when I cook. I do this partially to preserve my wellbeing, but mostly so that I don’t have to call my girlfriend and ask for first aid steps in “hypothetical” situations. I take my time when slicing veggies. I make sure to double up on oven mitts. I always salt my boiling water when cooking pasta. You get the picture.
Last night was nothing different. On my way home from the gym, I was craving a California Club Sandwich so I decided that’s what was on the menu — not that I have everything for it, but close. I was going to pan fry a chicken breast and then make an avocado spread with avocado, onions, and tomatoes, and then top it with a Mexican blend of cheeses and cook some kale chips in the oven as a side.
Everything was prepped and ready. I had a small pan on the stove with about two tablespoons of coconut oil in it. The pan was heating up, and since I live in a studio apartment, I have to be extra careful when it comes to heat because even the slightest change in temperature sets the smoke detector off. I turned the exhaust fan on high. I had the handle of the pan parallel to the front of the oven so that I wouldn’t bump into it while walking past. I opened my windows to allow for some extra ventilation. The point is, I was doing everything I could to be safe.
Despite my efforts, the smoke detector still went off. Whatever, that’s fine. I walked back to the kitchen and pulled the dishtowel off the oven lid to fan the smoke away from the detector. What happened next was a blur, but I can sum it up in the flashes I remember.
I turned to put the dishtowel back.
A loud crash happened.
Slight sting on my chest.
I looked down and saw the pan on the ground.
I looked at my arm and saw red spots scattered between my shoulder and my elbow, and they were growing.
I wasn’t sure what was happening, but my brain slowly pieced together that somehow I had burning oil touching up on my arm and chest — probably because three seconds later, the pain kicked in and I screamed, “HOLY FUCK!” at the top of my lungs.
Immediately, I jumped into line cook mode from my restaurant days in college (not that this happened to me at a restaurant previously, I just knew what to do). I ripped my shirt off and ran to my window AC unit to try and cool down the burn and gather myself. After about 15 seconds, I ran back to the kitchen and turned the stove and oven off. I also knew that whatever I felt now was no match for what I was going to be feeling in 30 minutes, so I chugged the glass of Pinot Grigio I had been working on and brought the bottle with me into the bathroom.
“ALEXA, HOW DO I TREAT GREASE BURNS?!” I yelled from the bathroom. Alexa let me know that in order to treat grease burns, I would have to run the burn under cool, but not cold water. So naturally, I turned the shower to a cool, but not cold, temperature and hopped in.
There are a lot of thoughts that run through your mind when you’re in this situation. You’re already worried about the burn you’re experiencing, but you have your adrenaline pumping on top of that which puts you into a different headspace than anything you’re used to. Any sort of filter I had in place was just gone.
“Fuck, now I’m going to have to walk into work tomorrow looking like a damn burn victim. Wait, I am a burn victim.”
“Oh man, this is going to scare the shit out of my girlfriend.”
“Am I drunk or am I going into shock? I honestly can’t tell.”
“This would have never happened if I just said, ‘Fuck it,’ and ordered food like I normally do on Thursday nights.”
These are all things I said out loud in my shower to myself while trying to cool myself down.
As I stepped out of the shower, I looked in the mirror and saw that there were small bits of skin hanging off my chest. “FUCKING AWESOME,” I sarcastically thought to myself. While the pain was temporarily neutralized, I tried to do some damage control on the whole situation. I had two blisters forming on the crook of my elbow, a blister that must have popped on the right side of my chest, and clear first degree burns up and down my arm and chest.
The worst part about all of this is, since I’m living alone, there’s nobody to clean up the mess. I had grease all over the floor and broken microwave scattered throughout the kitchen. That shit tried to harm me not more than thirty minutes ago, and now I have to be the one to clean it up as though I was the one who caused it? That’s just wrong.
Whatever the case, I walked to Walgreens last night and picked up anything I could think of that would help me heal. Ointment, non-stick gauze pads, pre-wrap, the whole shebang. With the absolute zero medical knowledge I possess, I’m willing to say I’ll make a full recovery. I wish I had a lesson to proclaim after all of this, but since I don’t feel responsible for any of it I guess I just have to say, be careful out there.
Anyway, have a great weekend! .