“What is this?” she asked him as he portioned out dinner on the plates.
“Hot and sour Chinese fried shrimp,” he said proudly.
“I sense the Chinese part, although as hot and sour goes, it’s not really that,” she commented, “But where is the shrimp? And for that matter, are we out of hot sauce too?”
“We were a bit short on shrimp. I couldn’t work out the sour part, so I just made do with what we had. Since I skimped on the shrimp, I added extra vegetables.”
“I haven’t found a single shrimp yet.”
“Maybe I skimped a bit too much,” he admitted and went fishing in the pan. “Here’s one,” he announced proudly. “Wait a minute, I think I see another one in there. No, that’s a water chestnut. There’s got to be another one in here somewhere…” as he trailed off.
“Listen. You can cook anything any way you like, but if you don’t have the ingredients, maybe try a different dish?”
“It isn’t hot. It isn’t sour. And you didn’t fry anything,” she pointed out, using her well-worn chopsticks as she plowed through dinner. “It tastes okay, but you need a new recipe name. It is shrimpless. Fundamentally, it’s missing all the key ingredients. It tastes okay, but… Well, I’m not sure what it is, exactly. Pass the hot sauce. Maybe use chicken next time? You won’t have to skimp quite as much.”