I seldom felt so at loss.
After a creative morning I finally got hungry and remembered the green tomatoes I had brought from the Farmers Market on Saturday. They were still sitting in the fridge waiting to be fried. I had studied recipes and recommendation what to have with them. So I shut down my laptop, grabbed my umbrella and walked three blocks to the supermarket to get some shrimp salad. Back home I prepared the three layers of coating and cut the still firm tomatoes is slices. Turned them over in the flour, tore them through the egg and milk mixture and put them in the plate with corn bread crumbs. I heated oil and placed the first slices into the sizzling pan while I continued to coat the next ones. The fried ones I placed on a sheet of kitchen paper. Then all of a sudden it happened. A loud oing-oing blurred through the apartment. This was not the phone, ringing quite often. It was much louder and alarming. A computer voice announced “fire”. I stood frozen and gazed towards the stove. Nothing was wrong. Just two or three of my tomato slices had become a little bit too brown. I turned off the burner, put the pan aside. The Oing-Oing was going on. “Fire” as well. There was no fire, at least not in the kitchen. I walked through the apartment. There was no fire anywhere. But the voice stubbornly kept telling me “fire” and the alarm didn’t stop. The smoke detector in the hall was blinking red. I could hear the neighbors watch TV downstairs, what they seem to do all day. They did not care about the alarm. What could I do? Was that damn thing connected to something? Would the fire brigade arrive now and try to rescue me and I would have to pay the bill? I anxiously peered out on the street. Cars were passing by, the construction men did their noisy work. No fire brigade. I looked around. How could I stop it. There was no switch, no button to tell that detector that it was wrong.
After I don’t know how many minutes the noise stopped. I waited. Would it start again? It did not. But my tomato slices were not all fried yet. I pushed the window further open, turned the burner on again but just to medium heat. My remaining tomatoes didn’t get really brown then. But I was absolutely worried it would start again.
My fried green tomatoes were delicious though and the shrimp salad went well with them.
When Rachael got home in the evening I told her about my adventure.
“Yes,” she said. “It seems to be a bit sensitive and doesn’t really need smoke. Sorry, I should have told you.”
So it had happened to her before.
“Several times” she said. “You will have noticed that the neighbors showed no reaction.”
She told me to throw a towel at it the next time or take it off and remove the batteries.
What I learned today:
How to prepare fried green tomatoes – and how to deal with a fire alarm.