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Jesus Wants My Sunbeam
by Hazel Girolamo

There comes a time in everyone’s life when you turn to a trusted friend and find they are not there anymore. It made me think that perhaps I hadn't appreciated fully the role he had played in my life. He had been new in the era of BC, before cholesterol and many a meal was burned between us while learning the new ways. His glory days had been with the now unfashionable fry up, no extra virgin to be found then, a great lump of lard and he was cooking! Quickly showing off his versatility, one day as a roaster, then a crepe pan or a skillet, the next a deep fryer, spitting out hot fat to show his contempt for the fries that bind. We ran the gauntlet of TV chefs, galloping gourmets and Bernard King. We fried Chinese and Sichuan, Indian, Mediterranean and Greek. Now it’s all stir fries and health grills, Teflon and non –stick steamer options but he was the original grease beneath my lid. I will never understand how he managed to flame grill bacon but he always be relied upon to find the weakest link.

The memorable day when a blow fly landed in the full depths of his curry. To dish or not to dish, that was the question, so I fished it out and made sure I served from the other side. A tear trickled down my cheek as I recalled a darker, crisper age when roast potatoes went from crunch to charcoal before you could say bean sprouts and go on to poach an egg without batting his square lid but resentment simmered after I accidentally tipped in a whole tin of crushed garlic and I detected a gradual warming in his heatproof handles. All he ever needed was a good going over with Big Boy Cleanser every once and awhile but time and harsh abrasives catches up on us all. Hard times began when he couldn’t put a crust on a carrot and refused to surrender anything crumbed gracefully, finally becoming unhinged by the incredible staying power of a baked on crud that resisted steel wool, twenty four hour soaking and the cat’s teeth. With his cord half melted and the little metal disc worn smooth and flapping in the steam, I recalled those immortal words; Do not immerse in water beyond this point, and I knew those halcyon days of prying the last of the pork rind of his bottom, were over.

The egg slice, the spatula, crowbar, hammer and tongs stand together in silent tribute. Now as the griddle marks of life slowly etch ever deeper, it is time to say, farewell old friend as I fondly recall all the browned off mince, the chickens baked and fried and my favorite steak, well done, good and faithful servant. Well done.