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  • "Hey man, this chili is awesome and the wings are great, but where's the chips?"

    It is almost the end of the first quarter, and I'm only just now doing the primer coat.

    "Hold on," I shout, stroking a vermillion line down a homemade tortilla chip with a tiny camel hair brush after dipping it in a bowl of puréed red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes. "These things take time!"

    After chips are decorated, I spray them with grape seed oil, arrange the triangles in alternating fashion on cookie sheets and load them into the 300° oven. Next I go to work on the guacamole.

    "Hey, is that your famous chips I smell?" asks Albert, who is always hungry. They do smell good as they slowly roast.

    I screw open my Isi Dessert Whip whipping canister and pour a vivid concoction from the blender into its mouth. It's a purée of avocado, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice, hot sauce and salt. After I charge the Isi with gas, I will squirt green foam on the chips in delicate patterns, arrange them in a large basket, and present them along with a bowl of mango-tomatillo-jalapeño salsa. My pièce de résistance.

    "The half-time show is half over!" say Hank from the living room. "What are you doing?"

    Trying to please my buddies, I screw on the Isi's cover and take a charge of NO2 out of a box. "Won't be long," I reply, noticing that there are no more little cartridges of gas left there.

    I screw a fine tip on the business end of the Dessert Whip to ready it to spew yummy, decorative green foam. The chips are just out of the oven, most of them baked to perfection. They must cool a while to harden up before I spritz on the guacamole foam.

    I pull a chip to experiment with and put it on a plate. I'll squirt guacamole in a spiral pattern on the triangular chip to contrast with dark red racing stripes. I insert the cartridge into its holder on the canister, grab its cover, and screw it down over the cartridge to prick, and discharge it.

    "PSSHT!" The cartridge exhales, releasing its gas. I feel a breeze near my wrist. Something is wrong. The gas went into the canister and came right out, leaving no pressure inside. I just wasted my last cartridge of NO2 gas because I didn't screw the lid on the canister all the way. What a jerk.

    This crazes me. "I'll be right back!" I shouted as I pulled on my coat and went out to my car. I hoped my local True Value store stocked NO2 cartridges. After navigating there over forlorn deserted streets I discover they have only CO2 cartridges and I would have to go to the fancy liquor mart downtown to get what I needed. Using CO2 would acidify the guacamole, imparting an off-taste – something I will not subject my guests to.

    My cartridge quest was in fact successful. I returned home almost an hour later to find Albert and Hank pacing in the kitchen, munching on chips. "Where were you, bro?" inquired Hank. "Those chips were awesome. The game got boring. We're winning, but it's a complete rout. You got Netflix?"

    Most of the chips had been consumed or fragmented. I looked at the box of cartridges in my hand, over to the Dessert Whip canister, and then at the fragments of chips littering the baking sheets. There was no point to continuing my culinary escapade.

    I put the box down and walk toward them. "Sure, guys. Whatever. What would you like to watch?"

    No tortillas or avocados were harmed in preparing this story. To tell the truth, I didn't watch the Super Bowl because I was busy writing.

    @image: A Super Bowl party tray, fairly typical of the genre. Such an impressive presentation does not guarantee quality.
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