Cleaning Up

There is still a substantial amount of rice fried onto the bottom of the wok, crusty and irresistible. I hold the pan in my hands and lean back against the worktop. The kitchen is small and cold. I look out of the window above the sink and across the nearby rooftops. I look down into the pan, at the rice. It looks like all the flavour of the meal – egg fried rice – has reduced, been condensed, into that thin, uneven residue. I pick at it, peeling the stuff away from the black pan in small scabs, flakes of crispy rice and chilli and lemongrass. It tastes delicious. I raise the wok to my face and lick at it with my tongue, but my saliva dribbles down, and follows the curved side of the pan to run down my neck. I tuirn around and put the pan flat on the worktop. I bend down and lick at it in this position, the stability of the worktop meaning that I can really exert some pressure. My tongue works at the congealed remnants and as it does so I can feel it lengthening and hardening and developing a sharp, knife-like edge. It starts to make a scraping sound and the rice comes away more easily. I start to taste the metal of the pan, and can feel black specks of burnt food – I know they’re black without seeing them – all over the inside of my mouth. The pan falls onto the floor and I follow it, getting down on all fours, pushing it around the linoleum. My tongue is nearly half as long as my arm now, and thick and round and strong, and black. It makes a metallic sound as it clangs against the wok.

I am excited at the possibilities!


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