Occasionally triumph arises out of adversity.
More often, though, things happen the other way around.
After successfully recreating el Bulli type spheres of deliciousness (about sixteen different varieties – including a pea sphere which was turned into the filling of some fresh ravioli), I was left with a couple of pints of algin bath.
Which I absentmindedly poured down the sink without so much as a blink before commencing with Mount Washmore (seriously, I don’t know how two of us create so much washing up).
‘Hon, why won’t the shower water drain away?’ my girlfriend asked, her tone heavy with innocent confusion come Sunday morning.
‘I’m not too sure,’ I replied, ‘but the sink is taking ages to empty as well.’
The answer didn’t elude us for long.
‘Erm, the outside drain seems to be full of jelly,’ she shouted through the kitchen window. I went cold and turned a distinct shade of rose that can only be associated with a realisation coupled with guilt and a heavy dose of stupidity.
She was right. It looked like a jellyfish massacre had taken place just outside the back door.
Forgetting my initial travails regarding the effects of hard water on alginate solution, it was with gay abandon that I’d disposed of the liquid down the sink. More than once.
‘Oh my god,’ she said. ‘You’ve blocked our drains with molecular gastronomy. YOU’VE BLOCKED OUR DRAINS WITH MOLECULAR GASTRONOMY.’ If the entire scenario hadn’t been so comical I’d have been more scared.
As it was, she could do little to stop the beginnings of a smile gently touching at the corners of her mouth. My fear gradually fell away.
But it didn’t alter the fact that our drains were blocked with what looked like the contents of the world’s largest sneeze.
‘Do you not remember what happened when you tried to mix that stuff with tap water?
I hadn’t. But now I did.
‘Oops,’ was pretty much all I could manage. It was followed by a sheepish ‘Shit.’
Google was no assistance. Results for ‘dissolve calcium alginate gel’ were unhelpful aside from telling me that it wasn’t heat soluble. The four kettle-fulls of water I’d already poured through the drain cover had probably exacerbated the problem then.
I turned to eGullet and posted my query.
And the good folks there brought answers like the postman delivering a letter to a wartime bride.
‘You could try using an auger or drain snake,’ came one outstanding suggestion.
It’s good to know that when all else fails, brute force is still a veritable option.
After much pushing, shoving, wiggling and dry-heaving the blockage was dislodged and came sailing down the pipe followed swiftly by assorted detritus. No details necessary. I’m sure your imagination can stretch to picturing a giant ball of jelly that had possibly been clogging the pipes for weeks.
And all that followed in its wake.
Success. And like an episode of Thundercats I shall end with a moral. Perhaps one that I should have learnt after watching ‘The Fly’ aged 8: Those with only a rudimentary understanding of science shouldn’t play with forces whose power remains unknown
Jeff Goldblum should probably have taken heed too. Honestly, he should have known Jurassic Park was going to go wrong.
For more acts of occasional idiocy, follow me on Twitter.