As easy as un, deux, trois?

by jemma margaret

Yesterday I arrived home with full intentions to make a Very Complicated Salad (this will probably be the name of my memoir/cookbook someday). I began to sauté a shallot (in a butter that you might read about in the Paris Best list–yes! butter in salad), added some salt, cinnamon, cumin, brown rice and green lentils. Waited for that all to brown up a bit and set to work trying to turn on the oven.

I had learned on Tuesday that I need to spark the stove with the gas on. The oven was less intuitive. A Google search led me to an Italian explaining his oven functioning to potential guests with a video on You tube, but without a match or the right idea of which hole it should go in, I was S.O.L. (or Merde sauf Chance as you might say in France (if you were speaking French via Google translate)–more on French acronyms another day).

So the complicated salad decreased in complication by a factor of 1/12 (Very Complicated, remember?).

This afternoon, I remembered to ask my roommate before she popped out, “comment se marche le four?” (bad grammar and all, that’s right up there with my best sentences such as “j’ai dix centimes!” and “oui, c’est tout à droit!”–the exclamation points emerge in my delight at being able to speak to strangers). She pulled out a box of matches, that I could swear were not there last night and gave a brief demonstration. Not too difficult, and not too dangerous either. This evening’s salad reached it’s full degree of complexity and deliciousness.

However, another mystery remains and this time Google again let’s me down. Rather than Fahrenheit, Celsius, or even standard gas marks, the oven is labelled with three possible temperature options: 3 is the hottest, then 2, and finally 1. For roasting a pumpkin, this is not rocket science. However, I am a little wary about trying to bake a cake and have sworn off all soufflé plans until I conduct some heat experiments (so don’t hold your souffle).