Crime: Overcooked pasta
There are instructions on the package. They are not complicated, if you are a literate person. Honestly, you can just set a timer and walk away if you want to. Salt the water and set the timer, that’s all you have to do. I mean, stir occasionally, but only very occasionally. If I wanted flavorless mush of an indeterminate origin, I’d be in a Dickens novel right now.
If found guilty of overcooking your pasta, you face 50 lashes with a cat o’ nine tails. Furthermore, you’ll be forced to listen to “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers on repeat for the duration of your flaying. Tied to the whippin’ post…Good Lord, feels like I’m dyin’…
Crime: Undercooked pasta
Instructions. On. Every. Package. Of. Pasta. Sold. In. The. United. States. As punishment for this crime, you’ll be burned at the stake. Because this is heresy. Like Joan of Arc, you’ll be tied to a pillar, with bunches of kindling nestled beneath your feet, which will catch fire before blistering your skin. You’ll probably die of carbon monoxide asphyxiation before your body is completely engulfed in flames. I’ll light the match.
Crime: Serving cheese and seafood together
There’s a reason people do this. No one really knows what it is, but it is an ancient one, and therefore good.
You face a lifetime of exile in Sicily, where weeping grandmothers will throw stones at you, in between sobs and gestures of disbelief and betrayal. The grandmothers will never rest; and when they die, there will be others to take their place. They will be dressed in their deepest mourning attire, complete with black lace mantillas. They will curse you unto Hell for as long as you draw breath.
Crime: Deflated soufflé
Even children have moral compasses. Even children know good from evil. Even children know not to open the oven door until the exact moment the soufflé is to be extracted and consumed. For your flagrantly amoral behavior, your flouting of all that is righteous and tender on this Earth, you shall be sentenced to torture on the rack. With your arms and legs attached to either end of the device, you’ll be stretched very gradually and very gently. It might even feel pleasant, at first. Eventually, though, your joints will become dislocated, and your cartilage, ligaments, and muscles will extend to the point of breaking. It is nothing like the taffy-pulling machine used to restore a shrunken Mike Teevee in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is, I assure you, very real indeed.
Crime: Broken vinaigrette
For the crime of serving a broken vinaigrette on the salad accompanying your failed soufflé you will have your hands removed without the benefit of anesthesia or antibiotics. They’ll just be whacked off with your own meat cleaver, blood sloshing all over your beautiful new Boos block, seeping into the nicks, absorbing into the glossy maple. You’ll never have the chance to hold a whisk, much less emulsify, ever again.
Crime: Cloudy soup stock
This is criminal negligence. If you had been watching your stock at all, it never would have come to a boil and become a cloudy, gelatinous mess. But you had something better to do—your taxes, perhaps? Maybe the baby’s diaper needed changing? No matter; there does not exist a good enough excuse for this kind of pathetic neglect.
For this vile crime, you’ll be forced to spend three months in the stocks. You’ll be both immobilized and humiliated, held captive in the town square (yes, The Hague has a town square) and your family required to watch as you soil yourself and wither from exposure. If the weather doesn’t kill you, the disease or the humiliation certainly will.
Crime: Cooking with unclarified butter
The recipe said clarified butter, didn’t it? It’s a simple step that produces superior results. You thought no one would notice. You thought you could cover it up. You thought wrong, asshole. For the crime of serving unclarified butter with your snow crab legs, you’ll be drawn and quartered. You’ll be disemboweled while still alive, your putrid entrails spilling onto the new spring grass, forever marring the delicate snowdrops that dot the picturesque meadows of The Hague. In your agony, your arms and legs shall be tied to four shining and patient chestnut mares, and I personally will fire the warning shot to send them running to the farthest corners of the Earth, each with a wicked limb in tow.
Crime: Burnt garlic
You could have just started over. Taken a breath, cleaned your pan, and chopped another clove for your disaster of a stir-fry. I believe in second chances. But you, apparently, do not. Instead, you just went ahead and used the burnt garlic. For this, you’ll meet our friend the Brazen Bull, an ancient and rather whimsical way to go. It’s just what it sounds like: a hollow bronze bull, with a door in the side, just for you. You’ll be locked inside the bull (we call him Ferdinand) and our charming executioners will light a fire beneath him. You don’t seem to understand this, but metal is an excellent conductor of heat; you’ll be perfectly roasted in short order. Bonus: Ferdinand is constructed so that your death-screams are transformed into a mournful lowing, emanating plaintively from his open mouth!
Crime: Flaccid, undercooked chicken skin
See here: the entire reason that a fowl even has skin is so that we can fry it in its own fat and then try to hide our deep and scarlet shame as we gorge ourselves on its flesh. And therefore, in cooking your chicken improperly, you have not only committed a grave culinary error, but you have denied the bird its truest nature, its only purpose. You have made its life meaningless and its death senseless. In return, you’ll be sequestered in a soundproof cell with our foremost expert on dental torture, Orin Scrivello, DDS. He’ll remove each and every one of your teeth with great relish, leaving you a gummy, grinning horror to your fellow humans. Let’s see you try and chew soggy chicken skin now, you monster.
Crime: Gluey, dense mashed potatoes
Ahhh, mashed potatoes. They’re inextricably bound in our hearts and minds to Thanksgiving, that most American (and, well, also Canadian) of meals. Thus, as you see, mashed potatoes are America. And further, you can see that by defiling the very mortar that holds the great United States together, you have committed the highest form of treason. Your punishment is named after history’s most famous turncoat, Judas Iscariot. The Judas chair is covered in thousands of sharp iron spikes, and traitors like yourself are fastened into the chair with iron restraints so you can’t escape the persistent poking of needly nubbins all over your backside. And for a little extra fun, the Judas Chair comes with optional heated seats (but not the kind in your Volvo.) It’s the opposite of relaxing!
Crime: Tomatoes in the refrigerator
Death by guillotine. If you can’t appreciate the sharp, sun-warmed scent of a ripe tomato, nor the gentle snap of its taut skin as you bite in, or the tart yield of its rich flesh; if you wish to dull its vibrant pulse which is life and meaning itself, you do not deserve to live.
Ellen Ioanes is originally from North Carolina and now lives in New York City. Sometimes she is funny on Twitter.