Weird Memory That Popped Into My Head

Some years ago I was at my magazine internship, I was working a 3 day party in Indio, just outside of the Coachella grounds. It was basically on someone's estate and we utilized their nice house and acres of land to throw a pool party. At night, running out of things to do, I wandered into the kitchen and found some kind of scientist cook, a young guy cooking with nitrogen. I offered to help, because there was nothing else to do.

"Great," he said. "What we're doing right now is putting this wild rice and sugar in a pan and caramelizing it." He showed me how to stir it and told me to make sure enough sugar was getting in there. Then he left the kitchen.

I took this picture when he was gone:

When he came back he said positive things and then we would begin to mash these caramelized, sticky bits of wild rice into small chunks. They were hot to touch, let alone press into tight squares.

"Let me see your hands," he said. I put my hands out, palms up, and he ran his thumbs over my fingers. He looked visibly disappointed.

"Well," he said, wondering how I could get through 24 years of life with unworn, child-like skin on my fingers. "You're not going to be a pussy about the heat, right?"

"Right," I said.

"Good," and he left again.

I tried to mash as many squares as I could, but they kept burning my fingers. If I couldn't press on them very hard for very long, they would just fall apart. I wanted to defend myself, saying, I used to play bass, give me a week with a bass and I'll have these gnarly calluses. That was the first time I was ever self conscious about having good skin.

Eventually we dipped the sticky, wild rice squares into a vat of nitrogen. When you took them out and bit into them, a cold cloud of smoke would erupt. It was pretty cool. There was a long line at the party to get some, and I brought some girls from the office to the front to try them. The cook was friendly and obliged.