Part of Number Four's amazing ability to irritate the crap out of us was her struggles with food. One of our main problems was that whenever one of us went into our tiny ass kitchen to get a snack or a drink, she would soon join us for a similar reason. This is somewhat linked into her copycat behaviour, but that is an entirely different post that I will need much more energy for. Her issues with food I can handle now.
It began seemingly innocent enough; she mentioned that she liked to bake rather than cook. At first we thought, "Great, she will be baking lovely things for us to eat!" However. We were soon to discover what exactly that entailed. The first thing that we noticed was that Number Four had a lot of cookbooks. A lot. We had quite a lot of space on the shelf unit thing outside our tiny kitchen, so it wasn't much of a problem. It was more just odd for Orly, Pamala and I to see so many cookbooks in the possession of someone our age. The three of us are much more throw-things-in-a-pan-at-random cookers. We had very little experience with recipe-followers. Over the course of the year, the number of cookbooks increased. Number Four continually lamented that she had all of these recipes that she never used. We continually wanted to punch her in the face. Maybe that was just me...
The next thing that happened was the gradual expansion of her designated area of the pantry. There were four separate shelves in the pantry. We originally designated them by height; Number Four being the tallest, she had the highest shelf. Then Pamala and Orly shared the next highest, and then me. We reserved the lowest shelf for larger community items or heavy things that needed to be accessed daily, like soda. Pamala and Orly were fine with sharing a shelf since neither of them kept a lot of things in there. I took up the majority of my shelf with various boxes of tea. I had a lot of tea. At first, Number Four didn't have that many things on her shelf. Then her crazy mom (again, an entirely different post) began to give her various item that had been purchased at Costco. Huge boxes of all manner of food, which she didn't even eat. They just stayed up there, taking up space. In spite of her protests, her crazy mom continued to foist huge boxes of things on her, so she ended up taking over the lowest shelf too, as well as a goodly portion of the floor. It was kind of hilarious to look in our pantry and see two shelves with hardly any edible items on them, and then the other two shelves overflowing with gigantic boxes cereal, granola bars, those 100 calorie pack things, I don't even know what all. At one point she was looking in the pantry and comparing how much she had to how little we had, and she said, "What do you guys eat? You don't have anything that is actual food!" (Looking back, what the hell did we eat? We never had our areas in the pantry or the fridge full, but we sure did eat a lot.)
This isn't to say that Number Four did not eat. She regularly cooked random slabs of meat by putting them in a pan until they were brown and tough. She never used any sort of seasoning or sauce, just meat cooked to death in a pan. She ate the meat by itself too, no side dishes whatsoever. It was baffling, as well as making the kitchen and living room smell gross. She would occasionally be struck with the urge to actually cook something, and this was almost worse. The most memorable of these times was after she somehow acquired a crock pot. I don't remember if she had it to begin with or if she got it while we lived together. Now, I love me some slow-cooked food, make no mistake. However, the things that came out of that crock pot were beyond disgusting. There was some sort of chicken vegetable stew thing she made once. It ended up just a big vat of multicolored mush. The carrots melted. Literally melted. Into liquid. And it tasted like cardboard soup. Nasty.
By far the worst thing though was when Number Four baked something. It never ended well. She would invariably leave the kitchen with a fine coating of flour, in addition to which it took her days to wash the dishes. She made cookies, but she didn't let them cool before she put them on a plate and they all stuck together to create this giant cookie mountain. Those actually tasted alright, but it was incredibly difficult to eat them. You could either break off tiny pieces, or a giant group of like five cookies that had been glued together by their chocolate chips. One time, her weird brother was coming to visit, so she decided to make him a sweet potato pie. I don't know if y'all've pick up on it, but I have certain Southern predilections. I know from sweet potato pie. So I was a little excited that she was making one, because I would get to eat some. Well, it turns out that Number Four doesn't know how to make sweet potato pie, per say, so much as mashed sweet potatoes in a pie. I was very disappointed. Then came the Worst of the Worst. Pamala and Orly would on occasion make cornbread from a box. Normally, I do not condone box-food, but real cornbread is damn hard to make and this was fast and still tasted good. One day Number Four decided that she needed to show us how cornbread-from-scratch was superior to box cornbread. Which was kind of a moot point with us, but whatever. So she made a huge pan of it. I tried it first, and I can honestly say that it was about the worst thing I've ever tasted in my life. I made Pamala eat some of it, because if I have to suffer, she does too. She put a tiny piece in her mouth and immediately spit it out, screaming "It tastes like Death just crawled in my mouth and laid eggs!" For about a week, we took turns cutting pieces off and throwing them in the trash until we finally dumped the whole thing.