Bloody TV chefs. With their 30 minutes preparation time, pinches of exotic spices, dashes of gourmet oils and freshly chopped herbs sprinkled with an effortless, artistic flourish. In my world it’s a 2 hours marathon with kids that want to join in and nothing prepared earlier. There are bottles of ingredients, picked by virgins and blessed by the Pope that are destined to remain full and unused in my pantry for millennia. And there’s food, crash landed onto plates and delivered to the the table, the pile of chopped garnishing herbs forgotten on the chopping board.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking. Thanks to a mum that got me involved when I was young and a wife that’s happy to let me look after the Illiterate house-holds catering needs I get to create and prepare regularly.What’s frustrating me at the moment is my inability to get anything resembling the an Oliver-like result in Oliver-like time, or food prepared in anything resembling a flash.
It came to a crescendo last Sunday night when I decided to have a crack at Karen Martini’s Pea, Ham and Barley soup. If you look at her picture, you’ll note the near sexy deliciousness portrayed. Now imagine mine, a similar colour but a more sloppy, breast fed infant consistency. It tasted fine but looked…
So what happened? Well my inability to focus on any project that lasts more than 30 minutes might have had an impact. I may have also suffered from a case of “nah, I don’t need to do it like that” at a few key stages. I may have also been overly enthusiastic with the stab blender but in the end I served up something that looked drastically different from the picture shown.
So why? Why does my effort yield such a different result? Could it be?
1) Preparation space. How many cooking shows have the chef squeezing their chopping board between a pile of unsorted laundry, this morning’s un-washed dishes, a pile of mail and the bag of ingredients that you haven’t put away yet?
2) “…place the onion in the pan and cook gently until JOHNNY! get down from there and put that knife down. STOP! don’t eat that onion! CAREFUL that pan is hot”. No I haven’t heard a cooking show go like this either. Seriously, these guys cook with one thing going on. They’re not dealing with a “little helper(s)” or the washing machine and dryer that’s beeping alarmingly in the background, the Mormons that have come to the door or the war on silence that your other children have declared in the lounge room.
3) Your lack of enthusiasm for cleaning up. Have you noticed how many dishes, bowls, knifes and spoons these guys use per recipe? I’m not sure about you but I watch and read recipes now and am already mentally washing up. I’m also aware that if I’m slightly unenthusiastic about washing up then Mrs II is 110% completely #$@#%$ over it. This attitude results in corners being cut, bowls being re-used or overfilled or whole sections of recipes skipped.
4) Vinno Cotto. Verjuice. Extra Virgin, virgin picked with virginity preserved olive oil etc etc etc. Have you noticed that the $10 meal advertised by a certain chain of super markets assumes you already have $30 worth of condiments in the cupboard. Or that the one particular ingredient that makes the dish you want to cook unique is only available in the local totes amazeaballs deli where hipster, cardigan wearing foodies congregate? And that when you google said ingredient for more recipes the only thing that comes up is the recipe you just made?
5) TV Chef: Years of experience, successful food empire, chain of restaurants, condiments range, publishing deal. Kev: Cooks once per day, maybe more on weekends. Enthusiastic but (very) limited in skill, will resort to store bought pizza bases and pre-made pasta. No book deal, no restaurants but bucket loads of verjuice.
So – how about you. Are you a TV chef waiting to break through or free-styling with occasional success. Have you had a good results following a celebrity chef’s recipe or would you like to let my two readers now about a particularly hilarious failure.
Sharing my Tuesday with Jess over at EssentiallyJess.com for I Blog on Tuesday