When I was younger I always assumed that cooking shows were for that segment of the population that never mastered the fine art of boiling water, or, plainly speaking, for losers - one or the other, but never for people who posses at least the rudimentary cooking skills and/or actually have a life. However, those assumptions flew out of the proverbial window shortly after Golden Delicious was born.
You see, my sister got into the habit of watching The Food Network while she was nursing. My niece was a decent eater and took her time getting everything she could, so to speak, and since I was hanging around both of them quite a lot, I also got into the habit of watching the blessed channel. Soon we even had our favorite shows and hosts.
Well, the baby is no longer a baby, hosts and shows fell out of favor to be replaced by others, but the enjoyment derived from watching Food Network only grew. Why? Simple: who needs the horrific (and mostly skewed to the left) news, or violent shows, or raunchy and dirty comedies when you can watch a goofy nerd making a fancy sandwich for his wife, or an extra energetic grandmotherly type preparing a feast for her husband's birthday? As far as background noises go - this is sheer bliss!
Aside from getting a soothing background entertainment, I also learned a few things. Here they are, in no particular order:
Guys enjoy cooking when at least one of these three conditions is met: they get to compete, or they get to play with fire, or they get paid a decent amount of money for it.
Butter rocks! It makes any meat oh so much better (still remember that one from before kosher observance), it flavors the veggies, and you can't really bake any kind of decent pastry without it.
Americans DO love their bacon!
You can use three mixing bowls in order to make one salad and not bat an eye – because someone else is going to clean it up.
Ditto for pots, pans, and baking dishes.
Ladies usually get to perform dressed up (not to the nines, but definitely not in sweats or housecoats) as opposed to the guys who still manage to get by with baggy pants and open plaid shirts.
Ladies also manage to boil, fry, and saute while wearing silk blouses with floppy sleeves, clunky bracelets, long necklaces, and chandelier earring.
You have to salt every single layer you add to your pot.
Some cooks do not believe in black pepper, and some hate cilantro – go figure.
You don't really need precise measurements for cooking – but you definitely do for baking. Is this why I enjoy cooking, but never really bake?
Words and expressions like succulent, scrumptious, tart, firm flesh, full-bodied, savory, colorful, delicious, fabulous, to die for, wine-soaked, caramelized, etc, somehow acquire a different meaning after you hear them uttered during a cooking show.
Wine parings that you thought were sacrosanct are not so sacrosanct anymore.
Every host and hostess would urge you to go and get your produce at the farmer's market, claiming that not only is it fresher there, but cheaper as well – I don't know where they get their information, but they obviously did not shop in Brooklyn.
Micro-plane is an absolute necessity in the kitchen of any self-respectable cook.
All the meats and sea food always come clean and prepared from the store, nicely wrapped up in a piece of brown paper.
If you want to make meringues, it has to be a clear day with low humidity.
Almost any dessert gains from an addition of alcoholic beverage.
No cook worthy of his or her apron ever cooks in a kitchen that's standard size for a New York apartment.
According to Julia Child, Italian cooking does not feel like real cooking – I guess that's why I love pasta so much.
Every single host or hostess claims that nobody wants thoroughly cooked pasta or rice – me, me, me!!!!!
Cheese plate has to be served with crackers and fruit – sorry, I guess I am not a gourmet because to me cheese and fruit never go together.
Family members always come at the most appropriate moment and help - willingly and, most importantly, productively!
Making your own ice cream is easy as pie.
Ditto making pies.
Ditto making your own caramel, or melting chocolate in a double boiler.
And, last, but the most important – cooking is a joy! Forget about perfection and have fun!