Eating Well with Howard Schnell

So this is it, the big night! After weeks of invitations, cajolations, cancellations and stymied expectations, Howard Schnell, the Howard Schnell, has finally consented to dinner at your place! It’s hard to believe, but your persistence has finally paid off BIG TIME. Soon, Mr. Schnell will be sitting in your kitchen, chewing food from your very own cupboards, sharing stories about his time in Nam and his business conquests!

Now, I know you’re excited, but before you start preparing tonight’s entrée, there are a few things we should discuss. After all, cooking for Howard Schnell isn’t like cooking for your Aunt Ingrid, and not only because of the gender differences! Mr. Schnell is very particular, and, if you ever want his large, sinewy frame to darken your doorway again, there are a few simple guidelines you should follow.

First, Mr. Schnell takes his potatoes very seriously. French Fries may seem like the perfect potato plate, but wait! Does Mr. Schnell like his fries straight or krinkle cut? Does he preferred them heavily salted, lightly salted, or not salted at all? And, if you choose to salt the fries, what sort of salt should you use? Seasoning salt? Table salt? Rock salt? Sea salt? No, fries present a great many pitfalls. So now what are you thinking? Perhaps boiled potatoes? Maybe mashed? Oh, but these present the same problems: seasoning, texture, color, garnishment. No, perhaps we would be better of to avoid potatoes altogether.

And next we arrive at the pasta. Ah, pasta is a simple dish, you may say to yourself, loudly enough to awaken the cat dozing by the toaster, but is it so simple? First, there is the shape. Bowtie pasta is popular, of course, but what if Mr. Schnell’s grandfather was a horse thief, hanged by the neck until dead? Might this particular shape awaken unpleasant memories for your esteemed guest? Annelli Scianelli are visually appealing, but their shape carries with it a double dose of danger. Mr. Schnell is divorced, and the ring shape might remind him of his love, long since run off with a sailor from Brunai. The other, of course, is a life preserver, and have you forgotten that Andre Schnell, Mr. Schnell’s second cousin, was drowned in an unfortunate water-skiing accident in the Dead Sea? I believe you have.

In fact, why don’t we just run through the rest of your ideas a little more quickly, just to save time. Considering a salad? Not only do tomatoes remind Mr. Schnell of hellish days working the fields before he made his fortune, but they could, in spite of the media’s insistence of their safety, be contaminated with salmonella or something even worse! Do you really want to be responsible for Mr. Schnell’s death, sir? Perhaps sandwiches are more your style—Ha! Sandwiches are an art, and you, my boy, are no artist. How would you deal with a piece of bread knocked askew by a stray bit of lettuce? Why would you have lettuce at all, you inspid little toad? And, oh, what a fool you must be to even allow Asian cuisine to cross your mind! Have you already forgotten about a little war called Vietnam? I mentioned it not two paragraphs ago, you colossal idiot!

Perhaps the best thing for you to do is to call up Mr. Schnell, apologize profusely, and tell him you are quite sorry, but you are incapable of fixing so much as a TV dinner that would meet with his approval. Once he graciously accepts your de-invitation, perhaps you should consider putting that Ginsu knife through your rotting, inept, ignorant head!

I hope I have been of service to you, sir, and I trust you will have a pleasant evening. If you will excuse me, I have a phone call to make.

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