Ian is the third brother that I never knew that I wanted, but I’m lucky to have. He’s my eldest brother’s best friend from university days, and for longer than I can remember, he’s been a part of the family.

Last Saturday night, I slept over at Ian’s colorful apartment where I enjoyed a game of Rummy 500, in which I thoroughly trounced him. Rummy 500 has become a ritual with he and I; every meeting at his place means that a card game must ensue. My brother DJ and Ian taught me the game when I was in junior high (though, they have tinkered with the rules to their advantage since then). On that memorable first day, we sat on the floor of their Lower East Side apartment (they had no furniture), and the pack came out. Nine cards each were dealt, a fifty-piece bucket of Pluck U wings smothered in death sauce was divvied, and a tradition had begun.

On Saturday afternoon, DJ told me that Ian would be cooking dinner, so I should head to NYC. It took two hours to get to his place from my other brother’s home in Long Island, and it was with eager anticipation that I thought of the scrumptious wonders in store. I knocked and knocked and knocked on his door with no answer. I called his cell twice and his home phone. No answer. Almost faint, I started rapping on his door; “Had I been misled; is there no food here?” Thankfully, I’m no quitter, and after persistent knocking, Apt #808’s door swung open.

Friends, you should have seen the man who opened the door. Ian was in a gravy-stained shirt, crumpled jeans with the top button undone, and his eyes were half-open. It seems that the dish that he cooked had knocked him out, and he was suffering from exhaustion combined with the -itis. He had recently watched Julie and Julia, and impressed by the cinematic qualities of Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourgignon, he aimed to replicate it. It took him fours to prepare. Four hours. He could’ve flown to Montego Bay in four hours, written four chapters of his memoir, cleaned his apartment, hand-carved a cigar box for his favorite grand-uncle, learned twenty-four words of Spanish, joined and been kicked out of a seminary, painted a knock-off Matisse, watched the movie Julie and Julia twice more, etcetera, etcetera. Instead, he cooked beef stew. Admittedly the beef was good, but that could have been the bottle of red wine that he emptied into it.

After eating my portion of the beef stew with a boiled dumpling(French-Jamaican fusion), he retrieved the recipe from the kitchen and explained to me why the stew took so many hours to prepare. The cooking directions are intensive and a bit ridiculous (“Buy this bacon/not that bacon, buy these mushrooms/not those mushrooms/ cut this/slice that/drain this/yayaya”). It took him almost as long to tell me how to prepare the dish that I never will cook, as it took for him to make it. Then, I told him how to save himself time in the future by cooking a dish that I created, and of which I’m especially proud. It takes four minutes, and one will never break a sweat or fall into a drunken stupor after its preparation.

V’s Sardine Surprise:

1) Pour a box of cornflakes into a bowl (cereals with sugars or raisins cannot be used)

2) Empty a can of sardines onto the cereal (sardines in oil preferable)

3) Sprinkle a tablespoon of blue cheese onto the cereal and sardines (or however much blue cheese is in your fridge)

4) Add eight capers (not less than eight, and no more than ten)

5) Liberally add hot sauce

6) Grind all ingredients together for forty-four seconds and serve (with a spoon or fork, your choice)