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It Was Just A Dream...

Iron Chef Kaczmarek (2000.09.09)

I had this dream that I was on Iron Chef.

Now, understand that I’m no chef. I’ve only recently begun trying to cook more complex meals than Stouffer’s microwave dinners. But in my dream I was the challenger against Iron Chef Italian—Kobe. The whole dream played out as if I was watching the show on TV, but it was me in the position as challenger.

The theme ingredient unveiled was cuttlefish. Cuttlefish. I watched as I stood there with a look of shock on my face. Cuttlefish. When the competition started Kobe ran up and filled his tray. I strolled up there a minute later in total confusion. Cuttlefish.

As dreams can be, most of it is fuzzy to me. But there are parts and images clear to me. The hour-long competition proceeded something like this:

Kobe grilled, fried, and even minced the cuttlefish. I took 10 minutes just trying to kill and cut the suckers (no pun intended) without grossing myself out.

Kobe made pasta. I burnt onions (to ashes).

Kobe mixed 20 different vegetables into ravioli. I spilled rice all over the floor. I tripped three times over the cameraman’s cables. I managed to make cuttlefish explode in an oven.

By the time the hour was over, Kobe made six dishes. I made one.

When they showcased the meals, the announcer introduced Kobe’s first. His dishes were so extravagant and decorated. They had names like “Vegetable Ravioli & Cuttlefish Sauce” and “Stuffed Cuttlefish Shells over Grilled Peppers.”

As the announcer described my dish, you had to see the picture to accompany it. It was an opened can of Planters’ Original Cheez Balls with the lid decoratively leaned against the can and the foil inner-cover lying off to the side. The announcer said:

“Challenger Kaczmarek has prepared one dish. He has opened a can of cheese balls. Since his dish doesn’t contain the theme ingredient, it will not be judged.”

So I got hungry during the competition.

What followed next was even more bizarre. As the judges tried my dish, I had to tell them not to use any utensils, but to eat with their fingers. The giggling actress (Akiko Takahashi) said that I really made her laugh and enjoy herself with my cooking antics (antics?).

Finally came the judgment. “Who will be the winner!?” “Who will be crowned victorious?!” And then Kaga announced it: “Challenger Joe Kaczmarek!”

Well is it any wonder? His gloved fingers and lips and teeth were covered with that orange powder cheese balls fans know and love. Even though they displayed the score results (Kobe: 20 18 19 18; Kaczmarek: 1 0 8 1 (Akiko did say I made her laugh)), Kaga still choose me as the winner.

Hey, I did say it was just a dream.

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