I was probably about 11 or 12 when one of my brothers taught me how to make pan deep fried french fries with fresh potatoes. Pan, oil, stove, potatoes. What could be simpler?
It was an awful lot of work for a few minutes of artery clogging awesomeness. It was worth it.
I haven't made french fries in this way in over twenty-two years.
I have scars that are reason enough for that.
Typically, about half-way through cooking the fries, the oil would need to be changed out. There's not much that will turn you off fresh french fries than bits of black burned stuff sticking to them.
We would pour the used, gross oil into a container, usually a juice concentrate can or something like it. It was a simple procedure, but one that needed to be carefully done.
I was in the middle of this when for some reason, perhaps my hastiness to cook more french fries or maybe a shaky arm, I poured hot oil on my hand.
I remember my thought process at the time. The kitchen had been recently upgraded and one of the rules was to not put hot pots or pans on the counters. It went something like this:
Put the ow things down.
No pans on counter.
Put oil receptacle on the counter. No rules against that.
Not on hot burner.
Stare at Mom.
It seemed like I was looking at my mother for an eternity. I don't know why I didn't say anything to get her attention. I didn't even walk over to her. I didn't cry. I don't know what my face looked like, but it was probably something along the lines of calm shock.
On the inside, I was screaming.
When my mother finally looked at me, she assessed my expression (whatever it was) and asked me if I had burned myself.
She told me to wash my hand with soap and water.
I proceeded to do so with cold water.
Over the next half hour or so, I was impressed upon by my mother to alternate the application of cold and warm water baths to my burn. The cold to stop the burn, the warm to increase blood-flow to the area so it would heal faster. At least, that's what I recollect.
The cold water was wonderful.
The warm water felt like I was dunking my hand into molten lava.
I ended up with a blister the size of a mouse or a large cockroach on my left thumb. I couldn't bend my thumb or use it in any meaningful way. I was careful with it for several days, knowing that bursting it would result in more pain and possibly infection.
In spite of my best efforts, I did pop it while trying to open a car door. I'm most likely blocking the pain of that moment.
And so, I have a couple of small, hard-to-see scars on that thumb.
The internal scars seem to have lasted longer.
I still cringe when thinking about making deep-fried french fries.