I am a pretty dab-hand at cooking up a mess of vittles, and I do so regularly. Wendy and I pretty much share the kitchen duties here, and it works well.
I’ve often maintained that one (probably the only one) advantage of having an alcoholic mother is that you learn pretty young how to prepare a meal that is tasty and nutritious – especially if you have younger siblings kicking around the childhood home.
Also, being divorced a bunch of times encourages you to turn your hand to preparing good meals, both for one’s own gastronomic pleasure and as a very effective romantic overture. Believe me, it works.
Aside from all that, however, I do not have a food fetish. I eat moderately, both at home and dining out, and I don’t go into orgasmic raptures over my grub. Food is food. It’s sustenance primarily, and while I have had some fine meals, I choose other elements of life to fantasize over.
That’s why this almost fetishistic obsession about chefs and their psycho-social meanderings amazes me. I mean, we have an entire channel devoted to cookery and dining. No wonder people are obese and coming down with type-2 diabetes in legions. I mean, it’s not entirely new to have programs devoted to the culinary arts. PBS used to trot out a few favorite chefs, including beloved (I believe) Julia and dat ole Cajun guy. My favorite was sodden alcoholic Floyd, who was usually pissed but also urbanely witty. And, who can forget Graham Kerr?
But, that was it. Not a whole channel, every day of the week. But it’s more than that. It’s the chefs that get me. These obnoxious, abusive egomaniacal pricks that viewers seem to masochistically obsess about and worship like some sort of superheroes rather than just cooks who get off on abusing their underlings.
If you ever watched that wonderful old Brit series, Chef, with Lenny Henry, you got a bit of the dynamic of the kitchen at a posh hotel. Problem is, the program, a comedy, wasn’t a stretch. His vicious berating of his underlings and his obsessive food snobbery didn’t stretch the truth.
Wendy once worked in the restaurant industry – including at some pretty high-end joints – and it was her observation that some of the chefs she dealt with in those days were egomaniacal borderline psychos and relentless and cruel bullies. So the charms of a lot of chefs escaped her utterly. She loved the program Chef because she said it was so true to her experience. She added that certainly not ‘all’ were of that abusive ilk but enough were that certain cooking gigs were borderline intolerable. She never, by the way, watches TV chef shows. They bring back negative memories.
None of the above, by the way, applies to that lovable old Chef Boyardee.