I have a confession: I don’t cook.
I know, pretty radical for a gal raised in the south during the last gasp of the Donna Reed Era. But don’t blame my mother. I do have some vague memory of her trying to mold me into some semblance of acceptability, but clearly success eluded her. In thinking back though, I rather doubt she tried to teach me how to cook—the poor woman could burn steamed vegetables.
I know what you’re thinking: In this world of take-out and Whole Foods who cooks anymore anyway? So where’s the problem?
Well, it’s my next book, actually. In a brilliant stroke of genius, I decided to set the story in the gourmet foodie world of Las Vegas. Blinded by the possibilities, the tie-ins, I pitched it to my publisher—apparently fairly convincingly. And now, my goose is cooked.
I should’ve listened to the older and wiser writers who counseled me to write what I know. Like that was going to happen. Apparently I have an authority issue as well as a cooking deficiency. Oh well, I’m sure I have offsetting strengths…I just don’t know what they are at this point.
So, anyway, back to this cooking thing.
Foodie world! What was I thinking? I’m starting to panic.
The research so far has been brutal. Did you know that some brilliant person years ago decided that they should use the term “ounces” to measure volume….and weight? But a liquid ounce doesn’t always weigh an ounce—it depends on the liquid?
I’m so confused.
So, I decided that, before my culinary limitations became common knowledge, I’d start watching those cooking shows. Maybe I could at least learn the lingo. OMG! Bad idea! I am traumatized. I watched this one, some competition thing where three guys got orange sherbet, anchovies, marshmallows and thirty minutes to create a gourmet repast. Piece of cake—I could do that. Eat the sherbet, put the anchovies on a hook and catch something worth eating, then roast the marshmallows over an open fire. Add a sexy little Pinot Noir and some dark chocolate, preferably Belgian (see, I do have a cultured palate), and I’d be in blissville.
But, apparently this would be a culinary crime or something.
I’m so screwed.
How’m I supposed to understand the game when I don’t even know the rules? And further, how’m I going to talk to these guys when I’m really not sure of the difference between a trifle and a truffle? And, while we’re on the subject, did you know that a truffle is not only a yummy chocolate thingie but also a foul-smelling, nasty tasting, fungus that grows underground on the roots of special trees in some obscure region of Tuscany? Yeah, me neither.
Clearly I needed to regroup. So, I called a friend who I’ve known for decades and who knows her way around the kitchen. I asked her to take pity on me, to come to my aid in my darkest hour. She laughed…and hung up.
So, abandoned, left to my own devices, I gave the Food network another chance. I am now addicted. I whisper reverentially the names Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Rachael Ray….but that southern gal who got diabetes and didn’t tell anybody, then when confronted, swore it had nothing to do with the obscene amounts of sugar and butter in her recipes? What’s up with that? Even I know to be very scared of people like her. If I spent all day on the Stairmaster, I couldn’t undo the damage one serving of her deep fried mac and cheese could do to my thighs—not to mention my arteries. I might as well just main-line Super Glue. She’s so off my list.
Yes, not only am I a Food Network junkie, I have become a Food Network snob. I don’t want to know how to make it on the cheap, or how to concoct almost home-cooked food. I don’t want to go to diners, drive-ins or dives (although the guy with the spiky hair does have a certain je ne sais quoi.). No, I want the real thing, the high-brow stuff.
And I’m getting there. I now know the difference between types of truffles. I also know how to make a trifle…in theory. I understand that the culinary arts are concerned with the interaction of foods on a molecular level. Okay, I can say that, but really? I haven’t a clue. I can appreciate the combination of savory and sweet, but I still don’t want basil in my martini, thank you very much. Nor do I want chilis or bacon in my chocolate—that just offends me on every level.
I’m developing a culinary sophistication I never had. Pretty soon Thomas Keller will talk to me, won’t he?
Man, this research thing is tough.
So, all you foodies out there… any ideas?