I’m watching some show on the Food Network right now where a bunch of bozos are competing to see who is this best chef according to a group of judges who’ve clearly turned the tables after spending their whole childhood getting bullied. This is fascinating and terrible at once. Why am I watching this?
I would love to be a good chef. (Or is it “cook”? What’s the difference again?) I’d like to be a great maker of food. Problem is, every time I see a recipe, I think, Man, that’s a lot of ingredients. I don’t have any of those things. I could purchase a nice shirt with what this meal could cost to make. I think I’ll have Subway.
I’m 25, so you’d think by now my repertoire would’ve expanded beyond simple pastas and breakfast foods. I’ve had every opportunity to learn my way around the kitchen, too. My parents? Excellent chefs, each in their own right. They came from great chefs, as well. It’s not that the torch wasn’t passed on. It’s just that while they were busy conducting alchemy in the kitchen, I was less interested in the process and more in the outcome. Needless to say, I’ve been a little chubby my whole life.
Tonight, I’m making spaghetti. No, not from scratch. I bought a jar of Prego spaghetti sauce with red peppers and garlic. I’ll enhance the sauce with a few of my own fixings, though, including chopped red peppers, crushed red pepper, garlic salt, ground beef and a 6 oz. can of tomato paste, so I can stretch the sauce for leftovers. Maybe that’s my problem — I’m a food economist. The main goal with each of my recipes is to make as much food as I can for as cheap as possible. I understand how this strategy may not coincide with the making of a gourmet meal. The goal with my arrangements are to cover two plates and fill a Tupperware container.
My girlfriend isn’t a food snob, thank god. Some time ago, she bought a recipe book and started keeping record of recipes she wanted to try or recipes she had successfully attempted and liked. She claims her parents never made much while she was growing up, which is evidenced by the way she kind of recoils at the sight of turkey sandwiches. My girlfriend really likes my spaghetti recipe, even though I call it “spaghetto,” much to her annoyance. She likes what I make and I like what I make. That makes it hard for me to feel like there’s any real room for improvement.
The quality of a meal or a chef or a cook is all subjective. That’s why I’m confused by this stupid competition I’m watching on the Food Network. Here the contestants are, doing something they love, vying for a dream job or some cash prize, and they’re being eaten alive by a team of judges who are, presumptively, somehow better or more accomplished. It seems silly to me in the same way a $40 meal does, because in the end, we’re talking about food, which to my knowledge all ends up in the same place, anyway.