My Reality Bites

I was carbo-loading on the couch in preparation for a “Chopped” marathon on Food Network when I realized that as much as I love my food competition shows, they’re not exactly “reality” shows.

Considering my smoke alarm often doubles as a kitchen timer, it probably comes as no surprise that they’re the opposite of the “reality” of my kitchen:

If there are more than five steps or ingredients, I’m out.

If a recipe requires me to incorporate another recipe or let something sit for more than 30 minutes before including it, I’m out.

If it relies on me trusting my appliances, I’m out.

My non-stick pans are questionable on the understanding of their job description, and I’ve learned a watched pot never boils, but if I turn my back for .4 seconds it will spill out and onto the stove.

And my toaster?

Sometimes the handle won’t stay down, therefore negating the actual toasting it is pressed into service to do. So I stand there muttering something along the lines of, “Well, aren’t WE the defiant little bastard today” until my bread comes out unevenly browned and bitter at the forced interaction.

(I’ve tried a different approach with, “Yes, take your time. I’ll just hold the handle down while you decide what you’d like to do with this bread.” That worked a bit better, but now the crumb tray refuses to stay securely fastened to the bottom.)

Even though it rarely takes me more than 15 minutes to make a meal anyway, everything on these shows is about being timed. Can’t find a knife? Use your teeth to separate that raw chicken! There are only 10 SECONDS LEFT!!!

Whereas I make an emergency run to the store when I get down to one head of broccoli, these cooks never have the ingredients they—or any normal person rooted in reality—would normally use together.

“For the dessert round, you have to use unicorn horn, pancetta, pink currants and crème fraiche.”

Really? I couldn’t make a great dessert if I was given anything other than the recipe, the ingredients and possibly Florian Bellanger, “Cupcake Wars” judge/pastry expert who expects contestants to make 1,000 cupcakes in two hours.

And seeing the less-than-hygienic things that go on in these kitchens makes me twitchy.

No, the secret ingredient is not elephant garlic. It’s sweat. And I wonder how anyone can eat anything presented.

Then there’s the dialogue.

I might talk to myself—and occasionally the testy toaster—but the judges on these shows flap their hands around in the final seconds of a round yelling, “Just get something on the plate!” while the hosts tries to talk to contestants moving really fast in an attempt to “just get something on the plate!”

Then there’s the judging itself in which the meal made from the juice of exotic olives and chocolate from Pluto in less than 20 minutes on a grill (plot twist!) results in them being told they’re on the chopping block and not the Next Top Iron Master Chef.

All that work and pressure and they don’t even eat what they make, which might not be a bad thing if they seasoned it with perspiration and possibly snot.

At any rate, it’s a good thing I like my food simple and fresh. It leaves me more time to sit on the couch yelling at the TV in my best Gordon Ramsay accent about how NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO MAKE RISOTTO while fishing out a piece of asparagus I dropped in the cushion.


I actually found this in the couch a couple days ago.

Call me Food Network. Let’s talk.

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29 responses to “My Reality Bites

  1. That dried up piece of asparagus will be in the next Chopped box. Bet me.

  2. Unicorn horn? Is Tiger Penis next?

    • Because my brain thinks in “sports” before logic, I initially read your comment to mean Tiger Woods. I blame you for the capitalization 😉

  3. I would love to see your episode on the Food Network! We need to see more people talking to their toaster and making asparagus. I would totally watch that show.

  4. I LOVE too cook, and I’m a Food Network addict. My family are always telling me, “You should audition for the show!”

    ….And I laugh in their faces. I know the truth. I could never, never NEVER compete on Chopped. I’m pretty sure I would just end up giving myself a nervous breakdown.

    I really liked this post though 🙂

  5. I laughed out loud at your post. MY toaster died just this morning, and believe me, I was not sweet-talking to it as I spread cream cheese on my totally cold bagel! Not an especially good way to start off a work morning.

  6. Hope the Food Network is monitoring – you would be great (Are all toasters a problem? Giggle over that one.

  7. We are culinary soul-mates, my friend. Except you’re the funny one. Love, love, love this!

  8. Ha! It’s weird that I’m not more into cooking shows, seeing as how I watch reality tv and like food. It’s good though, because I wouldn’t want to get ambitious. I know my limits. The microwave and I are bffs.

  9. couch asparagus. I love the couch asparagus.

    a group of friends used to get together for “Iron Potluck” and we’d all have to make something using a chosen ingredient. so fun.

    while I sometimes do some crazy things in my kitchen, my day to day really is simple and straight forward. I could eat a quinoa veggie bowl or (my version of) a deli sandwich every day and be happy.

  10. I love Chopped. And you know they like to use ingredients you can’t actually find anywhere….exactly like unicorn horn.

  11. Few things are sadder than a broken toaster that won’t toast. I’m very sorry.

  12. So glad to know a fellow talker-to-appliances. What I dislike is when they start talking back. If that washing machine or microwave beeps at me one more time I’ll … I’ll … I’ll … I’ll turn the power off at the wall! I really will. Do you hear me appliances. Stop harassing me!

  13. Now there’s an idea for a show. Use whatever ingredients you can find in the cushions of your sofa. I’d be scared to see what’s in my cushions, athough I did just clean out the whole couch a month or so ago, so it can’t be too bad, right…..right?

  14. Why is the asparagus blue…? Wait. Nevermind. I don’t want to know.

  15. Could it be any closer to your own reality?
    If we start by assumption that everything is relative, isn’t the challenges of making a sweaty unicorn for a Gordon Ramsey, or a troll, at the same level of you having to deal with both unsticking handles and lose breadcrumb trays? I see Gordon Ramsey moving like an elegant rhino in your kitchen, throwing one out-of-place ingredient after the other into a concoction of miraculously delicious dishes. But then, just when he thought he mastered it all with just the perfect pinch of added perspiration, he faces a hitherto unseen challenge that completely tips him off balance. Now, not even his saffron or expensive oils will come to his aid as he struggles to grasp the Devil’s machinery in front of him. And this is where Abby comes prancing confidently into her kitchen, leaning in over the machine. She soothingly whispers something in a language only comprehensible by her and the machine and gently places a hand on top and under it. To Ramsey’s wonder he sees how this woman tamed and mastered a machine that was thought out of educational reach and from the love/hate dance between master and servant, a perfect toasted toast comes to life.

    Morale: Your skills in a kitchen is of a master chef, just at another level 😉

  16. “Considering my smoke alarm often doubles as a kitchen timer” – HA!!

    And also – I would TOTALLY watch YOU on The Food Network!

  17. This post really made me laugh. I was filmed cooking for the first time on Friday and it’s really hard! I kept forgetting to talk to them and then burnt quite a few dishes by chatting away and ignoring what was smoking on the stove… Don’t think Nigella’s in trouble any time soon…

  18. We tossed our toaster the day we saw a mouse jump out of it. Now that would be an interesting twist on Chopped.

  19. Although I loved the post, I had to chime in with a handy little tip that has helped me. I am well aware of how weird this sounds, but I read, and tried, a tip to brush oil about an inch down inside the pot. It will keep the water from going above that line, oddly enough. I doubted it, but so far it has actually worked, and I’m usually the queen of boil overs. Lol. Supposedly a wood spoon laid across the top of your pot will prevent a boil over too, but I always forget to leave the spoon there. Meh. Anyway, hopefully the oil ring helps for you too. One less thing to deal with, so there’s more time for Food Network. 🙂

  20. You know in some parts of the world that asparagus spear is considered a delicacy.

  21. This post made me laugh so hard as I can thoroughly relate. My smoke detector cheers me on often when I’m in the kitchen. My mixer is apparently demon possessed and has been known to go off at random, shooting cake batter all over the cabinets, walls, and ceiling. It was fun to read about your adventures too. Thanks for sharing!

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