So I went to visit my Mom last weekend. At 90 years old, she doesn’t get up and about very much these days. She watches a lot of TV. Most of her TV watching consists, for reasons that defy explanation, of violent cop shows that make me cringe. Like NCIS and CSI and those other bloody acronyms. Bleh!
But this week I was in luck, or so I thought when I came into the room where Mom was settled with her cat in her lap and the TV on.
“I’m watching the Worst Cooks in America!” Mom announced cheerily. I settled in to see what the strangely named program might be about.
I was aghast.
In the first place, the very idea of calling anyone the “Worst Cooks” seemed wrong to me. I mean, the whole idea of this particular exercise in bloggery is to convince everyone in the world that cooking is easy. You don’t chef shame people just because they are nervous about making food.
Second, this show made these poor innocent souls spend day after day in a “cooking boot camp” lead by two professional chefs who would have fit very nicely in the Army infantry. They barked, they criticized, they shamed people for ridiculous, non-cooking related things like how they wore their hair and whether or not their countertops were clean.
I swear, I almost lost it when they started griping about “mis en place“. Call me a commoner, but if you’re not cooking in Paris, you shouldn’t force the French language into your kitchen.
But most horrifying of all to this happy home cook is the fact that this was one of those awful competitive cooking shows.
I absolutely loathe the whole idea of cooking as a competitive sport!
Food is love.
Cooking is sharing that love.
A meal is for sustenance, pleasure and community. It’s a sense of comfort and belonging. “Breaking bread together” is one of humanity’s oldest rites of peace and harmony.
So watching ten poor slobs sweating and crying as they desperately tried to attain the perfect sear on their sea scallops made me feel pretty sick to my stomach. Although I did get over that when they started eating the food. Still, it was upsetting to see all that negative emotion related to my favorite hobby.
To me, cooking is NOT about perfection, or racing to beat the clock (unless you have a toddler, then all bets are off). It’s not about the perfect balance of salty and umami. It sure as hell isn’t about “mis en place”.
So, dear readers, please cook.
Don’t watch stupid shows that are designed to make your blood pressure rise. Just cook food that sounds/looks/smells good. Share it with people who love you. Eat it. Use the bread to soak up the sauce. Leave the dishes till morning.
Food is love.
Competitive cooking, my ass.
Some things are just wrong.