Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lazy Sunday # 94: Home Cookin’

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and assert that among the tribe of screenwriter and TV Producer bloggers, I’m the best cook.



I thought not. And nobody’s allowed to nominate novelist Jim (“Legends of the Fall”) Harrison, who both writes and cooks in an entirely different league from the rest of us mere mortals.

Except for a couple of actors I’ve met along the way, who went on to own restaurants, most showbiz folks are less than expert in the kitchen. Oh, they’ll know a superior Pad Thai when they dig into one or that something in the Paella is lacking. But conjuring one up in the first place? Not likely.

Most people in the Biz prefer to dine where the food is considered trendy or at least good value for the money.

I, on the other hand, am known for a legendary Texas Chili and have been begged by noted chefs to give up the secret ingredient to my exceptional Eggs Benedict.

And where did I learn my craft?

Home Economics class.

Come again?

When I was in Grade Seven and Eight, one afternoon a week, we were trucked across town to a school outfitted with classrooms for “Industrial Arts” and “Home Economics”. The boys went to the former, where we were given a grounding in drafting, woodwork, electrical wiring and forming things out of plastic.

Meanwhile the girls learned to cook, sew and design table settings.

Nowadays this would be called “sexist” at best and “profiling” by many. But in the 1960’s we were merely being prepared for our assigned lot in life, darning hubbie’s sox or fixing a lamp so the little woman could get on with her sock repairs.

The guy who taught our masculine arts would be considered a sadistic borderline psychotic today and actually that’s what we thought he was back then as well. He had a thick Scottish accent, always wore sleeveless sweaters, the better to show off his Naval tattoos, and was known for regularly impaling 12 and 13 year olds with the very same sharp instruments he was supposed to be teaching us to use safely.

This was a guy who had probably dodged one Nazi U-boat too many and the slightest ripple in the waters of his classroom drove him to immediate battle alert. When we initially entered his classroom, we thought the giant first aid kit was to help us in case somebody ran afoul of a band saw or lathe. It didn’t take long to learn it’s primary purpose was to keep us from bleeding to death until he could boot us out the door for recess.

Anyway, on one of our Industrial Arts days, we arrived to discover that our tormentor had managed to shave off his own thumb while demonstrating how “not” to use a table saw. The kids fortunate enough to be present claimed there was still blood dripping off the overhead fluorescents.

Left with nobody to teach us or a classroom still awaiting a wet crew, we were ushered over to Home Ec, where the lesson of the day was making tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Since this was my favorite lunch at the time, I was immediately interested and a half hour later had discovered just how easy and fun they were to make.

From there on I was glued to “The Galloping Gourmet” and “Madame Benoit”, the most famous cooking shows at the time. And through them I learned that cooking wasn’t either difficult or even hard to do really well and that most often what you whipped together on your own was far superior to what came out of a can or would set you back a few bucks in a restaurant.

Nowadays, there are any number of TV shows and internet sites that teach you how to cook. But in the categories of also being entertaining and simplifying the process to the point where even idiots like me can come off looking talented, there is none better than “Good Eats”.

“Good Eats” has been around for 13 seasons now, with host Alton Brown correctly describing it as “Julia Child meets Monty Python”. And I defy anyone to watch any episode and not be immediately capable of recreating the recipes of the week. What’s more, you’ll also learn shortcuts and tricks that have taken 5 Star Chefs a career to discover and which will immediately amaze and/or dumbfound your friends.

Let’s start with something simple like breakfast.

Watch the video.

Make breakfast the “Good Eats” way.

Feel suddenly superior to your fellow man.

And Enjoy your Sunday.


deborah Nathan said...

IN Ipcress File, that's what made Harry Palmer so attractive. And in life imitating art, Caine owns a prestigious restaurant.

A talent I do not possess.

Cunningham said...

When you make it down here or I make it up there I formally challenge you to a chili cookoff.

We gather the mafia and let them decide...

jimhenshaw said...

It. Is. On!

Looking forward to eating your chili and watching you eat your words!

Cunningham said...

And I look forward to watching you eat your crow while I feast on your chili fixins.