Cooking With Anger

By Rob Wittig and Mark Marino

A frontal outline and a profile of faces expressing anger, by Charles Le Brun, 1713. Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

As part of the ‘What is a Recipe?’ Virtual Conversation, we’re pleased to introduce a story-telling game, called Cooking with Anger. And you can play it in the comments below!

We’ll keep bumping the post up so you can play from now until the end of the Virtual Conversation.

This is a creative game modelled on TV cooking competitions. Cooking with Anger is a netprov where storyteller chefs improvise a tale and a recipe from a given basket of ingredients. Many have written about cooking with love; now it’s time for all the other emotions.

How to Play

  1. Get a basket from the Protag-o-Matic ingredients machine.
  2. Copy and paste your basket at the top of your tale.
  3. Create a small dish of a stirring story — 300 words or less — using ALL the ingredients from your basket. Use people places and things as narrative; use food items for a recipe folded into the fiction. Season the tale with the emotional spice packet.
  4. Post your delectable concoction in the Comments section below.

To enjoy other story/recipes from last April’s version of this netprov, visit the Cooking With Anger website.

 


14 thoughts on “Cooking With Anger”

  1. Main Ingredients:
    brother-in-law
    witch
    lamb shoulder
    champagne
    basketball

    Spice Pack:
    1/4 tablespoon of eagerness
    1/2 smidge of anxiety

    The witch checked the bubbling pot again, nerves and eagerness rising in her chest. This had to be right, otherwise it was all for naught. She reached out with a spoon, tasting the concoction on the very tip of her tongue. A little more salt, she thought. To serve something like this, with lamb shoulder and champagne, you had to get the flavours just right. You couldn’t risk upsetting the most high-strung brother-in-law in the history of the world on his wedding day. That was like deflating a basketball just before play. It wouldn’t do. She added some salt, stirred, chanted, waved away the plumes of purple smoke, stirred and chanted again. Tasted it. Perfect.

  2. Father’s Day D. Lights.

    Main Ingredients:
    son
    shaman
    chocolate
    scallops
    snake

    Spice Pack:
    1 tablespoon of fondness
    1/3 dollop of amazement

    “Snake,” said my son. Uh, oh, nightmare time.
    “What?” I asked. He was pointing at something.
    “Snake,” I said. Oh, he was pointing at me. It must be father’s day.
    “What’s going on my son?” I asked, and he held up his hand. Four fingers up.
    “You see 4 snakes? This is the fourth snake you’ve seen tonight?”
    No, he shook his head.
    “I am one-fourth snake?”
    He shook his head again.
    “Well, what is it my love?”
    “Go forth.”
    “Ah, you are practicing your puns, I see,” I said. “But what does that have to do with snakes?”
    “Don’t be snaked when you go forth,” my son said, referencing an origin tale a shaman had told us. The first child and the first dad, naked (or sss-naked) in the garden. “And chocolate.”
    “Chocolate,” I asked.
    “Chocolate, I’m having trouble sleeping.”
    Now I shook my head. “I’m not getting that one.”
    “It helps me to hear your voice, so choc a lot.”
    “Ah, you like it when I coc to you while you’re trying to sleep. Why?”
    “Choc to me. It keeps away the snakes.”
    “Especially the snaked ones, I bet.”
    “Flowers.”
    “Flowers?”
    “Esss petally the snaked snakes,” said my sweet prince as he finally closed his eyes and drifted off to a punny sleep of slushy syllables and the sweetness of a secret language.

  3. The Fountainhead of Regret

    Main Ingredients:
    boyfriend
    accountant
    eviction
    basil
    pheasant
    mustard seed
    fountain pen

    Spice Pack:
    1/8 whisper of regret
    1/3 teaspoon of bitterness
    1 dollop of panic
    1/2 tablespoon of sentimentality

    Barely brushing his skin, she placed the fountain pen between his fingers. That touch that once excited him so, could send his heart fluttering like a pheasant in the sights of a hunter, now only evoked bitterness and regret.

    When he had met her, the seemingly shy accountant, in her pale peach dress on the double decker just outside the Tower of London, he had thought her to be a delicate and unassuming flower, like the kind one might find in Kensington gardens but only ever staring for a very, very long time.

    A chance encounter, soon led to a night or two at his flat. These were breezy summer days and so he thought nothing of her impulsive decision to move in, Panic at the Disco playing on repeat, “Death of a Bachelor, “why not? Why not entertain the idea of settling down? The Hampstead flat had been his aunt’s on his mother’s side, and when she willed it to him, a new era of his life had opened, the era of the poet, the flaneur.

    But perhaps such summer breezes are meant to blow through the gauzy chintz of our lives. A mustard seed of a moment which passes quickly into something sweeter, more stable. Why not settle down?

    What she did for Accenture, he didn’t quite understand. Consulting being a cloudy word for crookery, he would joke with her. And maybe when he’d signed the bank notes, or transferred those other funds he should’ve been paying a bit more attention.

    But now, flash forward not even the length of a villanelle and here he was, signing away the remnants of his love, wondering with a haiku of panic,
    Where will I move to
    back to Sheffield? Oh Heavens!
    pumicing mum’s feet
    as his summer dalliance had him signing his acknowledgement of his eviction, so this his beguiling accountant could live her life with her dark and passionate new paramour, Basil.

  4. Rawhide

    Main Ingredients:
    children
    cowboy
    garlic
    green beans
    leash

    Spice Pack:
    1/3 dash of jolliness
    1/8 teaspoon of grouchiness

    Tex’s hair was a mess of emerald dreads, like a pile of green beans. He wore a fat hemp necklace and baggy jeans, had a mean mushroom tattooed on his arm, and his hand gripped a thick leather leash just barely holding back a pitbull (named Cisco).

    Here and there, you could catch a dash of jolliness, but only a fraction of one. Because it was drowned out by grouchiness, sprinkled on a bit of a teaspoon at a time, like sand slipping through an hourglass, making his brow heavy and his lip sneer. No amount of weed cut through that sour disposition. He’d yank that leash, as if holding back a part of himself. And when Cisco took a dump, it was like he was taking a dump. It stayed there. On your lawn. Where children (and adults) stepped in it, regularly.

    He considered himself a cowboy, an outlaw. The city is his frontier; breaking broncs in his mind; wranglin’ dank nugs from sacks he sold behind the restaurant where he washed dishes. While reaching his hand into partially chewed, waterlogged garlic bread sludge to tug a mangled spoon from the garbage disposal, his heart murmured a sad, sad song.

    It was a song about a girl from art class who he thought was too pretty for him, who used to call him after her parents were asleep and talk to him until sun came up, who he’d imagined someday impressing through some vague, but notable, accomplishment. When she moved away to college, he never talked with her again.

  5. Chukkar
    A short play by Cathy Podeszwa

    Main Ingredients:
    brother
    playwright
    partridge
    spinach
    bow

    Spice Pack:
    1/2 smidge of gloom
    1/4 dollop of cheerfulness

    The play begins, with a sister talking to her brother. In the vicinity is a bird.

    “It’s a chukkar.”
    “A what?”
    “A chukkar partridge. It’s an escapee from a game farm. Not native. I think people might shoot them with pellets, or use a bow and arrow even. Tasty, I suppose, but I’m not gonna shoot him–I’m a vegetarian. Besides, it’s Dad. ”
    “What?”
    “Dad. That bird is Dad. I saw him when I first had to tell Mom that Dad was really sick. The bird was outside the facility with his partner, throwing himself at his reflection in the brass on the outside door. I told him he could move along–that what he was seeing was only himself. So he did move along. They both walked away together.”
    “But why do you think it’s Dad?”
    “I saw him again, the day of the memorial. He was outside the doors where we had the service. He was alone. It made me cry.”
    “But where was his mate?”
    “I don’t know. And then I saw him again, the day I finished getting Dad’s stuff out of the apartment. I was moving a load into my car and heard this soft clucking kind of sound. He was right there, watching me. It’s Dad for sure.”
    “Maybe we should try to catch him?”
    “How would we do that?”
    “I don’t know. Tip a box up with corn and spinach underneath and then pull out the stick?”
    “You’ve watched too many Roadrunner cartoons.”
    “There must be a trap you can use for birds.”
    “I’ve thought about that. Catching him…taking him home. It’s not realistic.”
    “But I’m worried about him now.”
    “Yeah. But I think he’s okay.”
    “Yeah?”
    “Yeah.”

    Lights out.

  6. The Terror of Chard

    Main Ingredients:
    girl next door
    illustrator
    porterhouse steak
    chard
    boxers

    Spice Pack:
    1/2 teaspoon of capriciousness
    1/8 cup of terror

    She’d had it.

    No more nice girl next door.

    His cat was a menace, terrorising the otherwise charming streets of Chard. Well, terrorising her boxers in any case. Once again, his blasted tom had strutted into her garden, proud as anything, and pooped in her begonias. The little devil constantly taunted her dogs and this time had led them on a merry chase–straight out of her garden and into the street.

    Fortunately, the clatter of bins, accompanied by yowls and barking had alerted her in time to recapture Betsy and Bobo. And that blasted cat.

    Straightening her shoulders, she rang her neighbour’s bell, warily holding the strangely docile cat in front of her. ‘Your cat, I presume?’ she started, ‘He…’

    The neighbour eagerly took the cat: ‘Oh Leo, have you been out causing trouble again? I’m so sorry!’ He looked up at her glowering face, smiling charmingly. She noticed the pencil tucked behind his ear. ‘But I’m so glad that you’re here, I’ve been meaning to ask you…’

    ‘Yes?’ She drummed her fingers.

    ‘Your dogs…’

    Her eyes narrowed, and she breathed deeply, preparing to tell him —

    ‘Are wonderful! I’m an illustrator and would absolutely love to draw them. Such characters.’

    She exhaled slowly, but still cocked her eyebrow.

    He continued, while stroking the cat, ‘Perhaps we could discuss it over dinner. I’m cooking porterhouse steak, and there will even be enough for a doggy bag!’

    Call her capricious, but she did like a good steak. And so did the dogs. She smiled back at last, ‘I’d like that.’

  7. The Tirage au Sort

    Main Ingredients:
    crush
    soldier
    corn
    blackberry
    shoes

    Spice Pack:
    1/8 teaspoon of annoyance
    1 dollop of shame

    It was one of those summer afternoons when even the river seemed sleepy. Bees buzzed lazily. The scent of lavender filled the still air. And the fields of corn stood proud, golden in the sun.

    But the King’s men were back.

    The round fellow sat at a portable secretaire, occasionally writing on a paper or dabbing at his dripping brow. A tall pinch-faced one stood beside, holding a hat. Man after man came forward for the tirage au sort. Those who drew a black paper had their names entered onto the round man’s sweat-speckled list.

    Marie’s husband had prepared for this moment by visiting the local devin, much to her shame. How many other respected men of the village had also cheated their fates? She had lost count. Marie watched as her husband strode toward the hat, his steps unusually large for his small frame and short legs. He bent and made a sign of the cross above the hat. His lips moved, though none could hear what he whispered.

    But many of the others no doubt knew his words: ‘Jesus passing by the middle two, his success.’

    And it was fulfilled. Her husband waved his white paper at her, grinning smugly.

    The thin soldier twitched with annoyance. They only needed one more body!

    A young man, no more than a boy, rushed to the front and thrust in his hand. No whispers. No signs. He turned to Marie, waving the black paper, eyes glowing: ‘Look Maman, I’m going to war!’

    She dropped her basket, as her knees gave way. She stared at a single blackberry that had rolled from the basket and blankly reached for it. Her son moved towards her, only to crush the berry beneath his shoes, its juice spread like blood.

    From manuscript WMS 4171, Wellcome Library, London. (Translated from French)

    Secret for preventing [one from] falling to the militia

    If there is the question of going to draw lots for the
    Militia, it is necessary that when your turn is called,
    you walk with large steps and, having arrived
    at the hat or other thing in which the tickets are,
    utter in a whisper, holding it in the hat and making
    the sign of the Cross ╋ with the index finger, saying
    (Jesus passing by the middle two his success) and
    it is fulfilled.

  8. Crunchy
    by Cathy Podeszwa

    Ingredients:
    Elder
    Harpist
    Grasshopper
    Chocolate
    Balcony

    ⅓ tsp. of interest
    ¼ dollap of nervousness
    ——-

    It’s so lovely. I never expected Sharon’s wedding to be so very lovely.
    But why didn’t you expect that? I’ve always thought Sharon had fine personal style.
    Well, sure, but it’s always been a little bit, jungular, you know?
    Sharon is an expert in tropical rainforest ant plants, so I suppose that’s what you mean by…Jungular?
    Right. I mean, she’s usually in olive drab insect-netting, crawling around in monkey shit, looking for new species of acacia. I didn’t expect white tulle and lace, a tasteful pink-and-gold color scheme, the Romeo-and-Juliet balcony, and a harpist, for Christ’s sake.
    Did you expect her to get married in the insect netting?
    No, but I thought there’d be some vines at least.
    Shhh–looks like her elder brother is about to make a toast.
    Great–that’ll create a diversion. I spotted a chocolate fountain in the other room, and I bet we can sneak some before the chicken kiev and asparagus.
    Wait, I bet this toast is gonna be super heartfelt…nah, just kidding. Let’s go.

    Mmmm, good call on the chocolate fountain. I always avoid them when there are children.
    Yeah–disgusting little hands.
    There’s some crunchy stuff in this fountain. Is that normal?
    I don’t know, I guess maybe they added coconut or nuts.
    Yeah, I think this one has both. The small bits are sweet, but the larger ones are nutty…
    A little weird. Wait. Oh god. She didn’t.

    What?

    I think this is where she went jungular. I think I see a thorax. Antennae. Tiny chocolate legs.

    Ants?

    The “coconut” bits. And grasshoppers. The bigger ones.

    Oh.

    Hmmm.

    Mmmm. Crunchy.

  9. Elder
    Harpist
    Grasshopper
    Chocolate
    Balcony

    ⅓ tsp. of interest
    ¼ dollop of nervousness

    Evelyn looked up from her music stand. The doorknocker had been lifted, then released in succession five times, the five knocks precisely spaced: One, wait, two, wait, three, wait, four, wait, five. If only the five knocks followed a pattern: one two three, wait wait, four five. Best of all would have been: one wait, two wait, three four five. She would have even settled for: one two wait, three four wait, five.

    Tristan and Rodney, her percussionist friends from the chamber orchestra, would have come up with a dozen or more ways to knock five times. She imagined them giggling over YouTube videos of Tony Orlando, Rodney saying, “Tony sweetheart, you only asked her to knock three times. You should have demanded five. Right Tris?” Tristan would have rolled his eyes. “Must we assume Tony asked HER to knock?”

    Had she ordered something from Amazon? Evelyn crossed the room, turned the deadbolt and opened the heavy wooden door.

    “Hello!” said a young man. Barely nineteen, he was dressed in a crisp white shirt, charcoal tie, and black rayon-blend slacks breaking too low on his black loafers. “I’m Elder Logan.” His eyes darted around the room. He said, finally, “Nice harp.”

    Elder Smith stood at the bottom of the stoop, shading his eyes from the sun, scanning the balcony for a sign from Elder Logan. They were breaking the rules, being apart even for a few minutes. But this brownstone was in a particularly colorful part of town. Elder Smith might have to go for help.

    Suddenly Elder Logan appeared on the balcony, eating a piece of grasshopper pie flecked with chocolate. Evelyn stood next to him, beckoning with a plate. “Come on up,” she said. “It’s okay.”

    “But chocolate has caffeine,” Elder Smith whimpered. Evelyn laughed. “Not this kind.”

  10. The Cookery Book
    (Inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs”)

    Main Ingredients:
    friend
    detective
    sesame oil
    prunes
    secret compartment

    Spice Pack:
    1/4 dash of vengefulness
    1/3 tablespoon of nervousness

    “Madam, I found your secret compartment.”

    At this pronouncement, our visitor sprang from her chair. “How? Are you a detective or a devil?”

    “The scents of certain oils are rather distinct—none more so than that of sesame. I’ve written an article on the subject. The scent led me to your compartment, where I discovered several dangerous substance in amongst the rare spices and extracts collected on your travels.”

    She struck the table with her fist. “I was right to do it. I thought she had stolen my recipes and put them in that book of hers. There’s her name on the cover, but where does that leave me?”

    “You think your action justified?” my friend asked. “The officials at the Yard may disagree, though I am not entirely unsympathetic to your plight. Fortunately for you the dose was not fatal.”

    She glanced frantically around the room. Her eyes found the dish of stewed prunes on the breakfast table. I took a step towards her. In an instant, I felt a sharp pain as the dish hit my forehead, and then a hot, gummy substance spread down my face and neck. My friend leapt after her, but as he reached stairs we heard the front door slam. He came to my side and led me to the armchair.

    “My dear doctor, are you hurt? Please say you are not hurt.”

    It was worth a prune—it was worth many prunes— to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay behind that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain. All my years of humble but single-minded service culminated in that moment of revelation.*

    “It’s nothing, Holmes. It’s just a bit sticky.”
    ————————————————————————-
    * In the original passage from “The Adventure of the Three Garridebs,” quoted here in part, Watson writes that it was worth not one but many “wounds” to realize the love that Holmes felt for him.

  11. Paradise, NV
    Main Ingredients:
    cousin
    IRS agent
    fennel
    sauce
    shoes

    Spice Pack:
    1/2 cup of disapproval
    1/3 tablespoon of homesickness

    In fifteen words or less Tammy worked herself out of those handcuffs, had somehow check marked “married with two dependents” on the page of the day. He had left in a cloud of smoke, the last hole in the universe, unmapped even by NASA.
    In Weston, experiments in lying fell down her throat smoother than honey. A stolen lipstick became at once a god machine, a cool breeze, power, end of numbness. Every escaped ruin a chance to redeem. When her cousin Knox dropped her off in Vegas, he just said “Every fire in Weston, in Nevada, it’s just two sticks rubbed together”. By ten PM she had her key, 14 credit card numbers and a gram of magic mushrooms. Words used at the Snake Lounge were like a box of buttons; timely use for solving a problem. Victim, voluptuous, vacant, pimp, pulchritude, promiscuous.
    Consequences of plans when they fail can be at first mistaken for happiness. The way the FBI’s squad beams lighted the floor looked for a minute like moonbeams. Blood running down the corner of her mouth tasted like Fennel, floating to memory dinners in Idaho. There was a sauce Tammy’s mother used to make, Acetone, Lithium, Phosphorus, Toluene. The IRS agent was so dim he couldn’t figure the difference between “Barren and Buried” words conscribing the womb like forceps.

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