Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What I Made for Dinner: February 3, 2010

Pasta with chicken and broccoli.

I used the chicken left over from Sunday night's dinner, so it only took as long to make dinner tonight as it took to boil the pasta.  Food Network should do a cooking show where all the recipes are based on leftovers from some other meal.  Not that I would watch it, because I hate Food Network. 

The newest offering from the brain trust over there is a debacle called Worst Cooks in America, which concluded earlier this week, I think.  It was a competition to see which of a number of terrible home cooks could improve the most over the course of the show.  I watched the first episode--I don't know why--and I was just appalled. 

One friend, who is much nicer than me, pointed out that the concept was pretty mean-spirited.  But the contestants were volunteer adults, so I didn't care about how mean it was.  It offended me that the show took these self-identified terrible cooks and measured their improvement by how well they learned to make gourmet, restaurant-quality meals.  In the very first episode, people who previously had "cooked" only by opening a can of soup were supposed to successfully make poached tiger prawns with bok choy and something called shrimp cacciucco, which I have never heard of and which has fourteen ingredients.  Other recipes showcased included homemade ravioli, chive pancakes, seared duck breast, and liquid-center chocolate torte.

Now, I like fussy, pretentious, time-consuming recipes as much as the next working mom with three small children.  But it annoys me that Food Network missed a chance to showcase non-cooks learning how to cook for real.  What is the point of teaching a non-cook to make restaurant food?  If the real worst cooks in America think that the only food worth making is fancy, expensive, and difficult, why will they bother to learn?  Why would anyone? 

The clueless home cooks on that show (and not on that show) need to learn how to roast a chicken and make a decent tomato sauce and saute vegetables into a basic stir-fry.  They need to know what to do if they accidentally burn the carrots (serve them anyway, call them "caramelized," dare people to complain).  Every home cook needs to know, for God's sake, how to use leftovers. But they're not gonna learn it on Food Network.

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