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Posts Tagged ‘Food Network’

Purgatory’s Kitchen

Posted by crowbiz on October 13, 2009

Reality Show #2.  That is, if I survive “Targeted” …..

I know, “Hell’s Kitchen” is already taken by the spokesman for culinary onanism, and I don’t need the name anyway.  As much as I dislike my kitchen, it’s not hellish, but it does feel like a place of never-ending penance from which I pray to someday be delivered.  


Perhaps there are a few cooking/lifestyle shows that have a shred of real life in them, but not like mine.  Viewers will be amazed that I can pull off anything more complicated than a peanut butter sandwich using an outdated kitchen that was badly and cheaply updated by a previous owner in the mid ’80s.  


My stove is vintage 1920s.  We have to light it with a match, which is why my two boys still cannot make their own grilled cheese sandwiches.  Next to the stove is our dog’s large crate, the top of which handily doubles as extra counter space.  Dishwasher?  Yes indeed, handed down from a friend years ago, it’s a harvest gold, roll-to-the-sink, hose-hookup classic, but what I love more than anything about it is that… it washes dishes.  Floor:  old maple floorboards whose planks are far enough apart to fit whole Cheerios; one could fashion a meal out of all the food particles to be found in the crevass-riddled, uneven surface (anything dropped will roll east).



Twenty-seven Hail Marys may not be enough

Twenty-seven Hail Marys may not be enough



Despite the picture I’m painting, I’m a pretty good cook most of the time, you just may not want to see how it’s done.  Therein lies the thrill of the reality show.  Dropped food on the floor?  Let’s dispense with the 5-second rule, which is ridiculously stringent when a good 5 minutes will do.  In my best Julia Child voice I’d chirp, “Who’s to know?”  Do you like to see chefs work with fancy appliances and utensils?  Years ago I whipped up a multi-dish full-on chicken dinner and trimmings using nothing but a teaspoon, all the while cradling a 6-week-old infant in my left arm.  Iron Chef, my ass – they’ve got nothing on the One-Armed Chef.  Though I don’t even drink coffee, I’ve lovingly ground coffee beans for Mr Crow with a mortar and pestle, looking and feeling like a peasant in an antique Columbian lithograph.  Our kitchen compost bucket is a plastic detergent tub, not a celebrity chef-designed….uh, plastic bucket.  For suspense, tension and cliff-hanging two-part episodes, we occasionally host holiday dinners for Mr Crow’s enormous family, sometimes staging – if not exactly entirely cooking – dinner for 38-40 people.


To keep things interesting on my show, I’ll happily lick my fingers like Nigella Lawson and bend over the dishes like Giada – my boobs are bigger but probably won’t film as well as hers.  I always love how Nigella’s fridge shows unlabeled plastic baggies of leftovers and lots of Snickers bars.  Mine has a whole cow eyeball in formaldehyde which I use when teaching Sensation & Perception; it was obtained from a student who’s father has some unclear connection to the Erie County Medical Examiner’s office, but he offered, and that’s not the kind of thing I turn down.  It’s right between the homemade fig and rosemary jam and a ramekin of bacon grease.


Food Network, enough with the “Overweight Guy Eats Weird and/or Diner Food” programs.  Get real.  It’s the least you could do after unleashing Rachel Ray on the world.  We have a place in Purgatory for you, if not lower down.



Charming kitchen vignette designed to distract you from the harvest gold dishwasher

Charming kitchen vignette designed to distract you from the harvest gold dishwasher





Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

I Despise Food Writing! Stop Me!

Posted by crowbiz on September 3, 2009


Fine Dining chez Crow

Fine Dining chez Crow

I swear, I didn’t realize.


Luckily, this dawned on me before someone else had to point it out.  Many of my posts have something to do with food.  It all started with the woeful Limburger story and mushroomed from there.  Not wanting to run a restaurant, canned bread, the Garbage Plate, my useful “recipes” (more coming), an adventure with rye bread, and pursuing sukiyaki, even though it was only the musical kind.  The thrilling crescendo came with the recent poutine review.  Where did all this come from, I asked my reflection in the mirror.  I heeded my own advice and looked within.

Three important points emerged:  

1)  All of my food discussions center on something relatively low-brow.  

Come on, canned bread and gooped-up fries?  Humble, but good eats.  And believe me, even if I had known the Limburger had been hit by a car, I’d still have eaten some.  I’m not above admitting it.  My posts have generated a fair share of “eewws” and have probably led to the misconception that I sit in my Tyvec-encased trailer eating dry stuffing mix washed down with store-brand cola.  With my bra strap slipping down along my flaccid bingo wing, crumbs accreting on my gut-shelf.   Wielding a remote.  The judgmental conclusion would be that I don’t know bacala from Bac-Os, nor camembert from Cheez-Wiz, but I caution you to be a careful thinker.  My adoration of low-rent food simply means that I’m not a snob.   I have no tolerance or patience for people who reject and mock foods that haven’t passed the cool-trendy-expensive-foreign-gentrified-organic-upper-middle-class test, and I’m downright embarrassed for anyone who would really care what others might think of their reaching for a Slim Jim (nacho flavor rocks).

OK, busted.  I am a snob about a couple things.  Tea.  Chocolate (“we do not eat brown wax in this house”).  

2)  For all my wordiness on food, I actually detest, abhor, loathe, and 27-other-thesaurus-synonyms-for-hate “food writing” and reviews.

H-A-T-E.  Can’t stand reading it, but somehow it crosses my path at times, such as when I’m stuck at the mechanic’s shop and have read every word of the rest of the newspaper or magazine at hand.  Many things about it drive me nuts, one of them being the amateurish nature of most food writing that finds me.  Shiver.  Hackneyed phrases like “blanketed with a ___ sauce” and “the ___ was generously studded with ___”  set me off so badly I could fork out the writer’s eyeballs and “infuse” them in acid.  I’ll only accept the word “flaky” in the psychopathological sense.  The strain of these writers trying to seem knowledgeable, coupled with a criminal lack of originality, is all too painful.  After all, food critiquing is equal-opportunity, since we all eat, we all have preferences, and we often have something to say about it.  Everyone wishes they had their own Food Network show, but frankly, half of the people on there shouldn’t even have their own Food Network show.  Really, I’d rather hear Joe Blow plainly relate that the plover-brain ravioli in a reduction of Rudbeckia nectar was “awesome!” than read that it was blanketed and studded.  

3)  I like things simple.

Yes, it’s fun to eat at a nice restaurant in which the chef has labored to concoct a most interesting array of offerings (often, presentation at the expense of taste).  I’ll eat most anything.  I’ll eat most any combination of anythings.  But I don’t like good stuff messed with too much.  Lobster smeared and stuffed with six ingredients?  Just throw the freaking thing out, it’s a waste.  Lobster.  Butter.  Too much great food comes to innovative ruination.  Leave it the heck alone, at least in front of me.  All this makes me seem hopelessly unsophisticated, but then so is the Buddhist monk for not reaching Level 17 in Grand Theft Auto, if that’s how your critical thinking works.  Let me suggest that I’m discerning with open arms.  What do I order on the uncommon occasion of upward dining?  Red meat, rare, because anyone can pile up twelve precious ingredients in their “signature dish,” but it takes restraint and finesse to get meat the way I like it – waved once over a candle flame with a sprinkle of salt.

In order to boost my food cred, I have to resort to pulling rank.  As a sensory-perceptual scientist and educator, one of my jobs is exploring the fascinating and still mysterious world of human taste perception (OK, so we only spend two classes on it).  I pass around the PTC paper samples to the class so each willing student can place it on his or her tongue and determine what category they fall into:  a nontaster, a taster (the largest group), or a supertaster (thank you Lazypedia, for a fair lay explanation and for referencing Linda Bartoshuk; but students, if any of you employ web references, I’ll fail you summarily).  Hilarity ensues as the unsuspecting supertasters wince, flinch, and bolt for the nearest water fountain cursing my name while the nontasters and tasters sit there puzzled.  I’m a supertaster, too.  So I need it simple.  My superior number of fungiform papiliae trump your measly few, so lay off my Frito fetish. Turns out, I also have the slightest whiff of synesthesia, so many flavors at once in my mouth is rather like an unsupervised 6th grade orchestra of ADHD boys playing Schoenberg.

But wait, you say, what about my devotion to things like the Garbage Plate and poutine?  Those are piled with ingredients and flavors, right?  Yes, but they’re simple.  Fat.  Salt.  Who can’t handle a mouthful of that?

So from here on out, I may or may not talk about food – OK, I’m pretty sure I will – but I pinky-promise not to mention blanketing, studding, or infusion.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »