Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Chuckwalla above the Backcounter

I did not make up this story! On a Friday night in August, I returned home after a long week at work with visions of a glass of wine and a simple appetizer dinner dancing in my head. I walked into the kitchen and noticed that the grate on the range hood was fractured and moving. I dismissed it as nothing and briefly thought about replacing it as I rationalized that it was catching a breeze from the air conditioning and creating an irritating flap. Imagine my hysteria when I realized that the grate was not moving randomly but rather with a definite and purposeful rhythm. At that point, all rational thought fled as I froze in fear and contemplation of the possibilities lurking in my range hood. Clearly, there was a living creature in there. Was it a rabid bat? A mouse? An insect? A kangaroo rat? Survival eclipsed fear and I regained conscious control of my extremities. I decided to face the creature and brought a flashlight to bear on my worst nightmare. As the light slowly arced through the cavity behind the grate, I began to make sense of the images imprinting themselves on my disbelieving brain. There was in fact something in the abyss and it was alive. I slowly focused my disbelief on the lazily blinking eye of the reptile. Against all odds, a Chuckwalla had found its way into the confines of my range hood.
Now you might ask, what exactly is a Chuckwalla? Well, it is the second largest lizard in the United States and it lives in the Sonoran Desert. It really looks a lot like a dinosaur, and is so large that it walks like an alligator instead of a lizard. Needless to say….our range hood is history and unfortunately, our Chuckwalla also met an untimely end despite our best efforts to pry him out and return him to the wild. The details will be left to your imagination. So, now I have a hole in the wall above the stove and our family has added another tale to the family lore…the Chuckwalla in the kitchen.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is one ugly sucker!!! I hope you had a large spear. So, should we expect a recipe on a lovely confit of Chuckwalla with a nice reduction of port and crushed pistachios on a bed of thinly sliced black mission figs and maytag blue cheese? I can't wait!!!!

Keep up the great work.


Anonymous said...

I think it is now time to put that house and its inhabitants up for sale. Are you sure he didn't have a She or some He juniors running around?

Anonymous said...

This is not what Disney had in mind when they invited wildlife into the kitchen in "Ratatouille"!
The idea of a scarcely-evolved relic of the Pleistocene era tromping around in the rangehood is more of a Speilberg thing. The image of the slowly-blinking reptilian eye is almost too much. The worst wildlife I've harbored in my kitchen have been scorpions and a moldy ex-husband; clearly, I'm an amateur!

Jodi said...

I am just catching up with your blog and am really enjoying the comments as well as the recipes. Reading the story of the Chuckwalla and the fact that it is still lent I was reminded of a Fat or as we now call it "Rat" Tuesday from many years ago. Upon returning from work and heading into my galley Kitchen, I noticed the frig cord was more obvious than usual and it looked like it tapered??? Well the new name for that famous day leaves little to the imagination. Needless to say that was not the frig cord. In my defense a new building was going up behind us, turns out there was a hole behind the over and thank goodness it was a rental.