Enjoy my writing and art? Want to see more? Support my work on Patreon!
Mom has the television on all day long, and she often puts it on Food Network or The Cooking Channel. I used to like cooking shows, and I sort of still do, but I have been seeing some really dumb things on these shows lately, and it bothers me. Maybe it’s the curse of being an intelligent human being who actually thinks.
Just today I saw Giada De Laurentiis tell people to toast pearl couscous in a pan with olive oil for 2-3 minutes before adding the chicken broth, but she poured the broth in immediately. I guess that was a “do as I say, not as I do” moment. In the same episode she said to use four scallions in a dish, but she only cut up the bottoms of them, then threw the other perfectly edible half in the trash. I hate seeing that kind of waste on television. Unfortunately, I see a lot of it.
Ina Garten gave me a face palm moment last week when I listened to her talk about how you don’t want to mash the avocados when you use them in the fish salad she was making. She then made her dressing in a small bowl, added the avocado and stirred it. Then she made the rest of the salad in another bowl, scooped the avocado out of the small bowl and mixed it into the large bowl. Then she poured the dressing into the large bowl and stirred again.
Needless to say the avocado wasn’t looking too good. I guess I’m alone in thinking that it would have been easier and better to make the dressing in the bottom of the large bowl, add the rest of the salad ingredients, mix, then put the avocado in last and toss gently. No crushed avocado and one less dirty bowl. But no, that makes too much sense. And I swear, if she tells me to use “good olive oil” or “good cream” one more time I’ll scream. Because, you know, I was planning on using the worst stuff I could find.
Speaking of wasted bowls, Sandra Lee is pretty much the master of that. She will mix something in one bowl, then put it in another bowl to add an ingredient, then scrape it all over into a serving dish. Why not just use one bowl before the serving dish, or even better, just make the stuff in the bloody serving dish to start off with. I have seen this woman move a single meal through half a dozen different pans and containers when a smart person could have used only two.
I also love (note sarcasm) some of the “recipes” on these shows. Paula Deen had one for peas that involved heating butter and canned peas in a pan until warm. I’m sure no one would have thought of a dish so layered and complex. Trisha Yearwood‘s “secret” barbecue sauce is ketchup, hot sauce and mustard. I’m thinking she should have kept that one a secret, because it’s laughable. Don’t forget Robin Miller‘s ginger carrot salad that’s made of… Wait for it… Nothing but pre-shredded carrots and store-bought ginger dressing. Because no one could do that without a recipe.
I’ll never forget the day I was watching Michael Chiarello cook meatballs “the right way” by putting the raw meat balls into a pot of sauce. I personally cringed, but I laughed out loud when his costar for the day, a niece who looked maybe five or six years old, said “That’s wrong. You’re supposed to fry them in olive oil first.” Michael, it’s pretty bad when a grade-school child knows more about good cooking than you do.
I love food and learning to cook new dishes, but I’ve turned to the internet and the kiosk at my local Publix for most of my recipes lately. These shows just aggravate Eric and I when we watch them. We spend more time being frustrated at the wastefulness and stupidity of the hosts than we do learning anything about cooking. I think these networks really need to rethink who they’re putting on the air, and what they’re letting them “teach” the public.