After working in the gardens again today (more on that in another post), and now chilling out with a dinner of Tex-Mex rice and beans and a shake with weight gain powder to try to lift me back up above the 92-pound mark (a whopping 325 calories in just half a scoop, plus the calories in the tablespoon and a half of peanut butter I add to it), I was catching up on some cooking-related shows. I never really paid attention to some of these things before, but as time goes by, there are some things that are simply annoying.
Let’s go first with a segment on a show I’m watching now, about Cincinnati chili. For those unaware, Cincinnati chili is spaghetti noodles topped with chili and cheese, usually cheddar. An owner of a place serving it in (of course) Cincinnati opines that nobody seems to know why it works, but it does. Well, I can tell him why: it’s basically spaghetti with meat sauce, duh. It’s just a little spicier than your average spaghetti, and the parm is swapped out for cheddar. This is not rocket science.
Another thing that makes me roll my eyes is the insistence that there is some kind of secret in a recipe. This can come with or without the old saw “I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you.” nonsense. What’s the problem with telling people the ingredients in something? The thing that matters is not the ingredients themselves, it’s the amounts of each one that makes the difference. For instance, here is the list of ingredients in my barbecue sauce: salt, pepper, garlic powder, brown sugar, honey, white sugar, paprika, ground chipotle pepper, allspice, nutmeg, onion powder, apple cider vinegar, poultry seasoning, oregano, ground yellow mustard seed, ginger, liquid smoke, rum, cayenne, ketchup, ground cloves, ground lemon peel, worcestershire sauce, molasses, and ground orange peel.
Now, in theory, someone could experiment and get to the point where they could duplicate my bbq sauce, but it’s unlikely, just as it’s unlikely people could duplicate exactly whatever it is these people on these shows make, unless there are only three or so ingredients. Add to that the fact that most people are not going to take the time to do any of the experimenting to figure it out, and the recipes are perfectly safe. The only thing I think of when someone says this is that the person saying it has a need to make themselves feel important and possibly make themselves feel indispensable if only they know it, which makes no sense to me. After all, if they get hit by a bus or a meteor or fall into a sinkhole that goes to the center of the earth, how is the remaining staff supposed to carry on without knowing the super secret recipe that was only in that person’s head?
Another annoying thing is when the host of any of these shows shoves one bite of a dish into their face and does an instantaneous swoon over it as if it’s the best thing they ever ate. Bonus annoying points for anyone who drops their fork or spoon on the plate/bowl/whatever, as if they’ve lost their motor control because of the awesomeness of that one bite. It takes more than a nanosecond to derive the full taste of that bite, and not everything is the best thing they’ve ever eaten, nor worthy of a utensil drop. Ditto for diners who are eating something and do these things. They get additional points for hamming it up on tv.
Speaking of people having foodgasms over things: why do some of these people act like something they’re eating is something no one thought of before and it’s the best thing they’ve ever had (until they eat the next thing, which becomes the best thing they’ve ever had)? A woman on one of these shows was enthusing about bacon with mussels. “Who thinks of that?” she asks. Anyone who has ever had seafood, I’d think. Seafood often has a sweet taste, and combining sweet and savory/salty is not new. Has she never heard of bacon-wrapped scallops or shrimp? Seafood chowder with bacon? Clams casino? Come on!
Finally, can we please get rid of the “the secret ingredient is love” or “it’s made with love” or any of the other “love” stuff. We get it, you don’t want to share your so-called “secret ingredient” (see above), or you think saying it’s “made with love” makes you special in some way. Anyone who really does enjoy cooking, and moreover enjoys cooking for other people, is doing the same thing you are.
Deep breath. On we go. I have brioche dough rising, and after it’s doubled, I’ll stick it in the fridge for shaping, proofing, and baking tomorrow. Later today: bananas foster banana bread. Yes, it’s all made with love.