10 February 2010


Many years ago, when I cohabited with a television for a while (and lost four entire months to The Home and Garden Nework!) I once came across a few minutes of an energetic young chef talking about catsup, of all things. He wasn't decrying it's plasticine nature nor extolling the virtues of a particular brand ... he was explaining its history and how to make your own...woah, how cool!! My kind of guy! (I had mulled the idea of attending chef school since junior high when a strange evaluation they gave me told me that I was best suited to being a chef on a cruise ship...it sounded fun! But since I had untreated thyroid until I was thirty, I lacked the stamina to be on my feet eight to ten hours per day, so I never tried it.)

I don't remember why, but in spite of my interest, I never saw more than that few minutes of that show.

Over time, that enthusiastic young man became so famous that even I, out in luddite land, heard about him. He was Alton Brown, culinary cartographer and host of a show called Good Eats. One day a couple of years ago, I was browsing the library non-fiction DVD shelved for homeschooling fodder when I came across a lonely Good Eats DVD sitting alone on the shelf. I got it out, to see if it was as interesting as I remembered.

Jack watched with me, and he became obsessed! Every time we go to the library, he checks to see whether there are any new "AB" shows. (Turns out out first one was lonely because that is one of THE most popular DVD sets in the library!) He had always liked to help me cook, but he took a renewed interest in cooking and started to explain to me about why to use the muffin method rather than my old "throw it all in a bowl and whip it to death". (My baking *did* improve.) He prompted me to get Dad a cooking scale and an electronic oven thermometer for Yule -- and believe it or not, they were a big hit.

A few years ago I started hearing about another energetic young chef who seems to share my approach to food and cooking - - at least from the press. Recently I go around to looking for DVD's of Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef at the library, but I was only able to find Jamie's Kitchen.

YUCK! That was so not what I was looking for. It was scene after scene of our young hero dashing about with uncombed hair, young people's self involved, over entitled whinging, and a lot of berating and shouting.

We gave up after three episodes, because it wasn't getting any better.

I did learn one thing though. I had never entirely given up the idea of chef school. It's clear that being a working chef isn't likely to be feasible for me, but I thought it might be something fun to do after I retire, just for my own knowledge. From what I saw of chef school, it's a lot like teacher school. You love to teach children (or cook) so you decide to be a teacher (or a chef). You go to school and you're not not how to teach (or cook) but how to manage a classroom (or a commercial kitchen). In both cases, while it startled me, it does make a lot of sense...but it explains why I never went on with my teacher training and why I guess I'm not going to chef school. So, it's back to the library with me, to get some more Shirley Corriher, Harold McGee, and Julia Child books.

Oh well.


  1. john morris wrote:
    Good lord! You should have become a chef! ... but no, that would become boring, I'm afraid ... I did get a new cookbook a few weeks ago, but
    haven't cooked anything from it. Yet. Will get back to cooking again soon. Maybe. ... love j

  2. Hey, John,
    Yeah, I expect it could become boring...either working in someone else's kitchen and always making what they decide, or owning my own and being chained to the store. ;) I dunno, maybe working as a personal chef for a rich family would have been fun...as long as the family was fun.


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