Archie’s making an impression over in New York. He has his own accommodation but it’s ‘student-digs’ so fortunately for him he
has an auntie with an apartment in the West Village.
His Auntie has a toddler and is therefore inexperienced when it comes to teenagers so is naive and foolishly trusting. She let it slip that she was heading Up State for a few days for 4th of July celebrations.
Ever so quickly Archie lept to tell her how special it would be for him to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks from her rooftop garden and that he would be able to ‘help her’ as could ‘look after’ the apartment while she was away. ‘I could keep an eye on the place for you’ were his words. Teenagers are good like that. ‘And do you think I could have a gathering?’ he continued.
Aunties with experience only with toddlers do not understand ‘the gathering’.
For the uninitiated a gathering is code for loud music, excessive alcohol and five times as many guests as you promised.
His auntie isn’t too naive. She did say that roof top parties were banned in her building but he could have ‘a few’ mates over for ‘one or two’ drinks and she did ask what he was doing about the catering. Alarm bells should have gone off when he replied that it was all under control because everyone was bringing different kinds of shots. Confused she said, ‘no, I meant what are you doing about food?’ and ever so confidently Archie replied that one person was bringing corn chips. She handed him the keys and said he would have to be out by Monday night as she was arriving back first thing Tuesday morning to let the cleaner in.
Somehow Archie managed to get about 15 newly acquired mates loaded with shots past the doorman. The fireworks were spectacular but nobody can remember them.
First thing Tuesday morning the auntie with toddler and cleaner in tow put the key into the door and stepped into the apartment. She’d never seen anything like it. Pizza boxes (all empty) scattered around the normally pristine home, kitchen benches groaning under the weight of ‘empties’, a freezer filled with exploded bottles of alcohol and Archie asleep in her bed with all his dirty washing strewn from one end of the room to the other.
She had to physically shake him to wake him from what can only be described as one of those teenage comas. Totally dazed he gradually came to and asked, ‘why are you back a day early?’ But his auntie said, ‘remember I told you three times I would be back first thing Tuesday morning?’ And as if things weren’t bad enough, Archie asked, ‘Is it Tuesday?’ She said, ‘I need you to get out of bed and pack your things as I’ve got work to do and the baby needs a sleep.’ Archie managed to pull himself from the bed while his auntie took an armful of empties to the recycling bin.
Later that night she was on the skype to me. I gave her my condolences but told her sadly, this is not an isolated incident. ‘What you came home to is what many mothers of teenagers face for about five years. Apparently it’s to do with the frontal lobe. It doesn’t fully develop until they are 22 and so prior to that day of relief they have impaired decision making’.
Only four years to go.
I did get on the skype to Archie and I did fully intend to berate him for his abuse of the West Village apartment it’s just that he got in first by telling me how he’s changed his mind about going to Uni in 2012 and instead wants to save up for a motorbike and ride around Australia. ‘Wouldn’t that be great Mum’, he stated. So my attention was diverted elsewhere. He also let me know that on the day of his return to Australia he won’t be needing a family dinner because he’s off to the pub ‘with the boys for a chicken parmigana’.
So exploding bottles of booze oozing from my sister’s freezer paled into insignificance as I realised with horror that I haven’t been missed.
Archie…if you stay home for dinner I’ll cook you and the boys Chicken Parmigiana.
Degree of Difficulty: 3/5
Cost: Depends how many ‘boys’ turn up for dinner
1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil + 1/4 cup for frying
1 small onion finely chopped
2 cloves of crushed garlic
400gm tin of tomatoes (I used tinned cherry tomatoes)
1 tbspn brown sugar
small handful of torn basil leaves
4 free-range chicken breasts
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 tbspn milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tbspn olive oil. Add onion and cook gently until softened. Add garlic and stir for 1 more minute. Add tomates, brown sugar and basil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the Chicken:
Heat oven to 200°C
Gently pound chicken breasts between two sheets of glad wrap until an even thickness. Coat lightly in plain flour and shake off excess. Combine beaten egg and milk and dip breasts into egg wash then coat in breadcrumbs.
Heat frying pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. Add chicken breasts and cook for 3 minutes on each side. You may need to cook in batches. Remove chicken when cooked and drain on paper towels.
Place on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Top with tomato sauce. Combine cheeses and spread over the top of the chicken. Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.
Serve with mashed potato and salad.
Home cooking is better than pub food!