My sister is a wonderful person. There is a slight technical detail I must explain, in all good conscience, before going further.
We have no actual genetic relationship, and we first met approximately six and a half months ago. This doesn't change the fact that we're sisters, but it does make it a little easier to understand exactly why we've been having all sorts of crosscultural miscues right and left, and why we're discovering interesting things about each other's pasts that is surprising the hell out of both of us.
For example, today my sister instructed me, the dutiful little stay-at-home housewife type, to do something with the chicken that had been defrosting in the fridge. "Make fried chicken or something," she said. "Yeah, fried chicken sounds good."
"Um," I said.
"You know how to make that, right?" she said.
"Heh, heh," I responded, and she gave me a quick and dirty version of the recipe.
(Several hours and a few eventful moments later) I looked dubiously at the chicken, encased in little plastic baggies in the fridge. I hate raw chicken with the passion born of having known real live chickens and seeing them converted to meat, and with the passion born of having been a cash register clerk and having to clean up the belt after having a multitude of leaky packages of chicken put on it.
"Okay," I said to myself, and extracted frying pan, oil, flour, spices, salt, cutting board, knives, eggs, plates, and a few other items, and set them all on the top of the stove. "I can do this."
I cracked some eggs and scrambled them in a pan, then poured a large amount of flour into another pan. "We can do this," I said, and was grabbing the rest of the baggies of chicken out of the refrigerator when the telephone rang.
It was one of my sister's friends.
At that identical moment, my nephew tugged on the dangling strap of my bathing suit coming out from under my enormous T-shirt and demanded dinner. I put my chicken project on hold and fixed a sandwich, still talking to my sister's friend Alan. After settling my nephew with his sandwich, I picked up a knife and went after the chicken.
Alan got to hear some very interesting words as I, for the first time ever, went after raw chicken with a knife and the intent of removing the meat from the bones. The knife wasn't sharp enough. Alan had to go after half an hour, but he told me he'd learned a few new phrases.
I realized at this point that my hands were all over egg and raw chicken, a very pleasant combination for hanging up the cordless phone. I said a few more words, dropped the phone on a clean spot of counter, and whacked the big glowing green button with the back of my hand. Clean, I hoped. I plopped the chicken pieces in the egg bath, selected one, and began to roll it in the flour mixture as I turned the heat under the oil on. I dipped it in the egg again, rolled it again, dipped it again.
It was at this point that I discovered that I should have stripped off my watch and ring. I plopped the breaded chicken on the clean plate reserved for the raw chicken, washed my hands, took off ring and watch, and resumed my breading as I waited for the oil to heat up.
My fingers got gunkier as I proceeded. Just when I thought it couldn't get any more disgusting, my nephew came up and tugged on my bathing suit again. "Joanie, I need ice cube."
I scrubbed my hands, trying not to touch the handles or the soap dispenser.
"Joanie, I need ice cube *now*," my nephew repeated.
I got ice cubes, and kept on breading. Pretty soon I ran out of egg, so I had to wash my hands to get more out of the refrigerator. Then I ran out of flour mixture, and had to wash my hands again to prepare more. I was starting to feel like Lady M------, you know, from "The Scottish Play."
The oil was hot enough at last. I put a piece in and watched it sizzle. It didn't look like it was cooking very fast. I sighed and turned the fan on. This could take a while.
I was absorbed in getting the chicken pieces cooked just right, in between breading the last few pieces, when my nephew yelled my name. I nearly jumped out of my skin and almost spilled the sizzling oil. After making sure it wasn't an emergency, I explained the concept of "boiling oil" to him, and how it was hazardous to distract the person working with said oil.
My nephew subsided after I got him some more juice, and I continued on my merry way. I picked out a piece and stabbed it intensively to see if it was done. It almost resembled the nice golden brown color of McDonald's nuggets. I decided it was done.
I noticed that it was 8:20 by this time. I scrubbed my hands again and hustled my nephew to bed. We had a debate about Barney: he said yea, and I said NAY, and it was Teletubbies instead.
The big pieces just wouldn't cook. I flipped them, and flipped them, and flipped them, and still every time I stuck a fork in, red juice ran out. The oil turned dark and had little bits of dark brown stuff floating in it that I assumed was loose breading. It couldn't very well be anything else, could it?
It took more than an hour and a half, all told, and I'd just barely finished and was just getting the last of the mess cleaned up when my sister came in, took one look, and dove in.
"Mmmm!" she said, gulping down a truely incredible amount of chicken. "Tastes just the way Mom does it! How did you manage it? Wow!" She inhaled another piece, and another....
....So at least I do it right. Great. Now I'm going to get asked to do it *more* often....