April 16, 2009

Well, If It's Mistakes You're After...

...I may have found my niche!

Mark Bittman, food writer for the NYT, takes on cooking shows. He's weary of the 'perfect' results we see, with no regard for the bung ups, the un-real time displacement of events, and the handy cast of hundreds that are behind every successful TV cook. Or chef. Or star. Or whatever.

Oh, he is so right. Why don't they show the bloody fingers? The stuff slopped on the floor? The fact I can't break an egg without adding all the shelly bits to the mix? My son lines up little dishes along the back of the cutting board, just like they do on TV. He has a great knife, and he chops well. He reads a recipe to the end first, and makes sure we have everything needed. Now, there's a thought.

I draw the line at his practicing the flipping things in the air. To do this, you need supreme confidence, full commitment to the process, and a mother not standing behind you yelping 'don't get it all over the stove!'. Ever been on a trampoline? Remember how you were taught to stop bopping up and down, just bend you knees? Well, my omelets bend their knees halfway up. Splat.

Bittman laments that for all the creative ideas these shows may offer, they fail miserably by simultaneously creating unachievable results. These cookbook hucksters screw things up just like we do - but we can't cut to commercial.

Julia Child is quoted as saying the best thing about cooking is that you can eat your mistakes. She used to famously flop once in awhile, and just get on with it. To be fair, Julia Child's worst days would far outdistance my best ones in the kitchen, but I like her point.

I watch food shows, but mostly as sport. That Iron Chef one is a hoot - I like watching people try to make garlic ice cream or tuna daiquiris. But Bittman is right - it's a drag to watch the perfection played out before you, and the only place my cynicism usually leads is to the takeout menus.

Now, think if I had a cooking show. Think how fabulous everyone would feel. I would leave in all the car wrecks, work with no assistants, and do it all in real time.

Cooking With No Net.



Anonymous jmd said...

The first time I baked potatoes as a newlywed, I didn't poke holes in them and they all exploded in the oven. I thought there was a drive-by shooting happening.

April 16, 2009 3:40 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Looks like I have a co-host...

April 16, 2009 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've watched cooking shows since I was a little kid, starting with Julia Child & Graham Kerr. There was an up-tight Canadian woman (I think her name was Ruth Freme, or something like that) and she sneezed right in the middle of making something and said "oh, F@#$". Right on TV and then got pissed off because the camera was rolling. They cut to commercial. Remember, this was probably 35 years ago. It was fun.


April 17, 2009 11:06 AM  
Blogger Nursedude said...

I once knew a guy who tried to put out a fire in a frying pan of bacon by dousing it with tap water. The resulting fireball was quite the sight. As was the spectacle of the same lad running outside to throw it into a pile of dirt. Extreme cooking at it's best. I still can't cook bacon w/o getting the safety lecture.

April 17, 2009 11:40 AM  

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