“I Hate the Way You Cook!”

July 19, 2010 at 4:30 pm 4 comments

“Chop those shallots!“  “Stir that sauce!”  “Move your arse!”  “Yuck!  You call this Roast Duck with a Port Wine Glaze?”

It’s typical banter for today’s ever-popular cooking reality shows.  Yet compare and contrast this with my mother’s now world-famous line from The I Hate to Cook Book:  “…let it cook five minutes while you light a cigarette and stare sullenly at the sink.”

So, the question becomes:  Was Peg Bracken—the original kitchen iconoclast—a fan of such shows, which seem to lend new meaning to the word ‘pressure cooker?’ 

The answer is a resounding no.  As I’ve said before, while Mom was far from an avid cook, she did not really hate doing so.  But she would never dream of disparaging another’s culinary skills.  (At least not in person.)  Though blessed with a dark sense of humor and rapier wit, she seldom strayed far from her Midwestern manners.

Closer to home, these shows never light up our living room, either.  My husband, who finds kitchen-work relaxing, considers them offensive and simply can’t watch.   As for me, I already put plenty of pressure of myself to make a decent dish.  An overbearing overseer would turn me into another Lizzie Borden.  And getting pleasure from seeing others go through the same the horror is unthinkable. 

Consider this:  Unless you’re a seasoned pro, shouldn’t cooking be easy and, God forbid, fun?  Whatever happened to enjoying the sweet sound of vegetables simmering in a pot, savoring the seductive aroma of bread in the oven—okay, even shaking that hideous orange powder into a pot of Kraft Dinner®?

Sometimes I wonder:  what’s the next cherished American pastime to fall?  Quilting?  “Knit one, purl two.  Now drop and give me fifty, dammit!”


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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sunflowerinn  |  July 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    I despise anything to do with the kitchen. Cooking looks so glamorous on T.V. If I had all those little measuring cups and bowls that match I guess I might just like it.

    • 2. johannabracken  |  July 19, 2010 at 8:19 pm

      And isn’t it annoying how there’s always a beautifully finished dish already sitting in the oven?

  • 3. Anna  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I do find that I couldn’t watch these high-pressure kitchens. I couldn’t stand the meanness and constant stress that perspires from the screen when they run around and pray that their flan, or cakes, or whatever would turn out right. It’s probably why I like watching “Ace of Cakes” where the cast is constantly joking around and making fun of themselves while putting together intricate, detailed cakes. Even when they’re under stress, they seem calm, standing around, hands in the pockets of their skinny jeans, figuring out where they went wrong or what they can do to fix things. They look–quite frankly, stoned sometimes, but I do find their unflappability refreshing.

    • 4. johannabracken  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm

      Ace of Cakes. I must check this out. Thanks for writing, Anna.


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