This Saturday just past, we did a lot of very dull stuff, such as purchasing a new lawnmower and strimmer and using them to defoliate the lawn of the house we're still trying to sell. Some days I figure Agent Orange might have been a better plan. In any case, after an hour or two's strimming, mowing, raking, sweeping and generally doing more gardening stuff than either rotwang or I usually manage in a year, we decided to treat ourselves to dim sum for dinner, so we headed off to the Wing Yip and bought large amounts of frozen Chinese snacky goodness.
Back at home, I put some of it in the freezer, sorted out the vast amount I planned to cook, and analysed the different methods of cooking needed. As usual, there was a variety of things to coordinate; some of them needed to be steamed, some microwaved, some boiled, some deep fried. That last was a packet of sesame prawn toast, which offered the choice of frying or microwaving - somehow the thought of anaemic, microwaved anything on toast didn't entirely appeal; deep-frying it was, then.
The basket for the fryer had been through the dishwasher since it had last been used, and it was sitting on the top of the fryer itself. Open packet of sesame prawn toasts, put into fryer basket, turn fryer on to warm up, go back to stacking the steamer, putting stuff onto plates to microwave, and the like.
A couple of minutes passed.
A rather odd smell, and a sound as though the fryer was cooking something, started to fill the kitchen. It seemed likely that an errant chip had escaped the basket last time the fryer had been used. I opened the fryer to fish the doubtless-charred potato product out.
"Hmm, looks like a leaf, long stalk attached to something," I thought, looking down at the item barely visible through the bubbling fat.
"No, hang on... those look like... paws."
I closed the lid, turned the fryer off and walked away, still holding the basket with the gradually softening toasts, to speak to rotwang, who was sitting at the dining table in anticipation of his food arriving. It took a couple of breaths before my throat loosened up enough for me to advise him of the slight delay to his dinner. My normal speaking voice is alto, but the soprano squeak that emerged probably gave him the impression that I'd been breathing helium, or that I was channeling the spirit of Little Nell.
To his eternal credit, he calmly walked into the kitchen, picked up a slotted spoon, opened the fryer and fished out the rodent concerned, disposing of it into the garden (where I suspect it probably added to the high cholesterol count of our resident fox).
(Aside: The mouse had, he tells me, definitely been dead before I turned the fryer on. How it got in there, I'm really not sure; it's possible that there is a small gap where the handle of the basket fits into the body of the fryer. I don't plan to examine the fryer itself any more closely at this point.)
To return to our tale, then. I was not really keen to continue cooking for the next few minutes, largely because of the smell. The aroma of deep-fried decomposing mouse is a penetrating one, and it quickly filled the house. Air freshener? None around. Incense? No. We'd thought that the fryer would still be too hot to move at this point, but the stench was rapidly reaching unbearable levels; rotwang unplugged the fryer and put it out on the patio, where it remains at the time of writing.
Eventually I dumped a frying pan on the stove, turned on the gas and frantically dumped thyme, rosemary, and mixed spice into the pan; ANYTHING, ANYTHING AT ALL that would smell nice, or even reasonable, when heated. After a few minutes, the rest of the house started to smell of (slightly singed) herbs and spices rather than Eau de Souris Frite.
And that, my friends, is why I'll be buying a(nother) new deep fat fryer soon, and why we had microwaved sesame prawn toasts on Saturday. (And yes, they were anaemic and tough.)