My husband Phil calls me a lazy cook and I don’t know why. So what if I chop all ingredients as if I’m preparing stew chunky enough for Jack’s Giant? Some people, especially barbarians and those who like to approach a meal as a challenge, prefer it that way. Just because I don’t dice peppers with the elegance and care of a heart surgeon (if heart surgeons dice) doesn’t mean that I’m lazy. It just means that I’m time efficient. Inefficiency in the kitchen not only calls for extra chopping, flipping, or stirring, it also requires superfluous cleaning, and that is another demand I won’t stand for.

Despite my lackadaisical approach, I usually still manage to produce at least two star quality food. But I can’t seem to make tasty Indian food. Unfortunately for Phil and me, that doesn’t keep me from trying.

Some people are under the grave misconception that Indian food tastes like the interior of a taxicab, but I maintain that these people have been mistreated by chefs whose talents are as limited as my own. With the correct blend of coconut milk, nutmeg, and ginger, Indian food has the potential to taste like vacation. In what other cuisine can cashews, coriander, cumin, and chilies put aside their differences to create a flavor firework display, bold enough to force the diner to set down her fork and appreciate the wonder exploding across her tongue? Nut, spice, and cream, oh my!

This class was not like my bachelorette party where we giggled and made funny faces. This class had actual strippers in it.The first time I tried my hand at homemade Indian food ended in a crash and burn pile of Chicken Tikki Masala smoking embers. Ingredients number one and two on the recipe are yogurt and lemon. Dairy and acid are famous culinary enemies. Thanks to lemon’s aggressive position against caseins (protein), it puts poor milk on the curdle train bound for Sour Street. So, it would be natural to assume this as the cause of my downward spiral. It would also be wrong. This, the obvious choice, was not my problem. My problem was apathy. The recipe called for previously grilled chicken to be added to sauce simmering in a pot. But when I read extra steps or, God forbid, words like "do before" on a recipe, I assume the author of the recipe is joking, or perhaps just saving her own ass, like when the labels of electronic devices warn you not to do something you would never do, like, "Don’t stick your hand in this DVD player while you are taking a bath."

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So, when considering the Chicken Tikki Masala recipe, I thought, Why grill the chicken? Let’s do away with extra steps and get down to business. The pot will get hot, won’t it? Just throw the chicken into the pot, let it cook, and then add the sauce. It still makes sense to me, even in retrospect, but obviously the Indian people are far wiser than I when it comes to the inner workings of uncooked fowl. Or perhaps this episode can act as a cultural microcosm, evidencing that Americans’ aversion to extra steps will soon lead to being overtaken by up and coming industrious nations. Overseas employees of HP, you have people like me to thank.

The sauce flavor was fine but, somehow, the chicken tasted too…. chickeny? Like biting into a bouillon cube, without the salt. I’m not sure I can better describe what I mean except that, with every bite, we were hyper aware that we were eating poultry. It was the flavor of pure, unadulterated white meat.

The pain of the previous experience must have faded enough in our memory for me to give Chicken Curry with Peas a go. It was one of those slow cooker recipes where you just toss in the meat, onions, garlic, ginger, curry, cumin and frozen peas, turn the knob, tinker about your apartment and, when you’re hungry four hours later, remember that you did the whole Crockpot thing. A no-brainer, right?

I don’t know how I managed it, but the smell of this dish was reminiscent of my family Cockapoo, Shadow, after he escapes and returns from the neighboring marsh. The meal reeked of stewed wet dog, and tasted like one too.

The main problem in each of these cases is that I cook in bulk—again, an issue of laziness. If I’m cooking, I’m going to do it once, and it’s going to last. Also, I don’t throw food away so, when things go wrong, we have to suffer through the consequences. Bite, chew, and swallow. Bite, chew, and swallow. Or, as Phil calls it, "powering through." Then we look in the refrigerator, see three remaining Tupperware full of wet dog leftovers, and we swallow again.

Over lunch the day after this blunder, I plugged my nose and pushed my way through a bowl of marshy curry—then I went off to a pole dancing class.

Because my grandmother reads my writing, I must emphasize that I am not interested in a career change. It’s just that my girlfriends treated me to a pole dancing class during my bachelorette party, and it was quite possibly the best exercise I’ve ever had. Combine that with the winter weight I’ve accumulated this season and the fact that I can’t resist a deal: I purchased six pole-dancing classes from Living Social for the price of two.

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But this class was not like my bachelorette party where we giggled and made funny faces. This class had actual strippers in it.

I walked in wearing basketball shorts, a white t-shirt that was yellowing under the armpits, and sneakers—not even new, fashionable ones. Dirty old ones with a peeling sole. My hair was tied in a high ponytail with stray wisps frizzing into tiny hedges on the side. The other girls wore V-neck sports bras, shorts booty-er than boxer briefs, and stripper high heels (a combination of a block platform front and a stiletto skinny back, aptly named because—and these girls would know—that’s what strippers wear). They all let their hair hang loose so that, when they whipped their necks, their manes played a supporting role in the "I’m too sexy for this pole" effect. They looked seductive, and to say that I looked like a stereotypical butch lesbian would be an insult to stereotypical butch lesbians.

Pole dancing class with strippers

Alas, class began. We danced a little and swung a little. They climbed the poles—I sort of jumped at the pole, clung for dear life, and then slid to the floor like the fat kid on the rope in gym class. As expected, it was a good work out and I was sweating.

That’s when it hit me. A familiar fragrance. Exotic and pungent. Not just body odor, not just something you might expect in a workout environment. There was a hint of going for jogs with my dog, Shadow. But there was also….

Curry.

The spice wafted from my pores and amalgamated with my workout stink.

There were real professionals in the room. Talented strippers. Legitimate athletes. At one point, one of the girls climbed up, pinched the pole between her triceps and torso, released all four hands and legs, flipped upside down, and hung—held up only by her inner arm! And there I was, smelling like Mumbai. I swear the girl I shared a pole with sniffed me and wrinkled her nose. Then she got a paper towel and wiped down the pole.

Yes, I grossed out a Long Island stripper, a woman who might have had to get naked for a Gotti. I guess I can scratch that off my bucket list. Next up, tripping a cripple.

One class down, five more to go.

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