I simmer on a low flame. The chef has already given me a dose of the high flame when I was put in the pan. Perhaps he was in a bad mood, perhaps he didn’t pay attention and left the flame on high for the oil, but I am a little burnt. Now I must cook slowly, evenly, my surface needs to be crisp. The chef is on a call, extremely busy, as the oil and the herbs seep through my skin and the heat hurts me at a steady level. I wonder about what life was before this pan. But there are no memories of before, I just am. In the pan. Like always.
Now the chef hurries over squints down at me, makes a ‘tut-tut-tut’ sound and rummages through his plastic containers of ingredients. He adds some garlic and onion. The pungence of garlic assaults my senses and the onions scream each time. I hate those little melodramatic buggers. Aren’t we all here suffering and dying and burning? Aren’t we all keeping our screams within?
Anyway, I tune them out as they cook, worrying about the fat vegetables that are definitely going to be added on top. Good god, they walk all over the rest of us like they own us. Just because they take so long to cook with their thick skins! Sure enough the chef, muttering dark things, sidles over and callously throws the chopped carrots and beans onto us. I hold my breath as two carrot pieces land on top of me. With a wooden spatula (a grumpy fellow) the chef tosses and mixes us all up. He peers in and then disappears for a bit. Half a cup of water later I am swimming in a stew as much my own as the others. The heat dissipates some for a little while. But the relief is fleeting. The chef begins to whirl us in the pan with a jarring, disorienting frenzy. I scream out loud, even though the onions have long fallen silent. No one hears me, no one can hear me. The chef now covers the pan and everything goes dark.
The heat begins to rise. The water so welcome as a relief, begins to bubble ominously. Slowly and slowly, piercingly we cook, surrounded by the heat, unable to see, unable to speak. I wonder what I’m being made into. Am I part of a continental dish? Or Chinese? Or Indian? Or Thai? I wish I could know what was happening to me.
The water now drips down onto us from above where it condenses on the cover of the pan. It is too dark to tell who is cooking beside me. There are only the sounds of the sluggish boil of water, and the hiss of the flame beneath us. I cry now, not because it relieves me, but because it is the only thing I can do.
Suddenly the cover is lifted and all of us shriek at the stabbing light that falls upon us. The chef grunts and shakes the pan and then flips us in the air. For a moment there, I am in the cool air, free from my indifferent, bovine food mates, and I am…happy. Once, twice, thrice…I shout out in glee! These are the best moments of my life. And so of course they end.
We are then put into a fancy china bowl. Suddenly I’m looking at a beautiful thing with lights suspended from the ceiling, and then woops! I am scooped out and placed upon a plate. A low murmur rises from everywhere around me. Then I feel the cool tip of a spoon swoop down and claim me. I am rising, rising, gloriously rising and the gates of heaven open, all round and moist and dark. I feel empty as everything goes pitch black and I cease to exist.