Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Iron Chefs and Rats Who Shouldn't Cook...

It's another gloomy day today, similar to yesterday but the warmth has gone and a damp cold seems to have found its way into my fingers. No matter what I try, I can't quite get warm. It reminds me of my days of living in England; the damp cold clings to you inside and out and only burrowing yourself into a mountain of blankets in bed can warm chill from your bones.

Thus, I didn't want to get up this morning. I actually slept remarkably well last night which was a pleasant surprise given that today is the day the Top 100 in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is selected and the rest of the 400 quarterfinalists will be notified that their novels didn't make it. Try as I might, I can't ignore it and I have tried. I've tried to distract myself by not thinking about it. I figured if I psyched myself up to receive that rejection, it wouldn't bother me. The problem with that is that it's negative thinking and that's not good either. So, I'm trying a new strategy: being positive. I'm not sure how that's working for me; it's hard to be in a great mood when you're feeling sluggish and tired and you want to crawl back under the covers. Yet I'm trying. Whatever happens, happens.

So, instead of spending last night obsessively reading the ABNA forums, I found other things to do instead. Besides, the ABNA forums are getting on my nerves. Nothing is going on there other than a little snark, a little teasing and a little patting each other on the back. I managed to get 10 reviews through the process and every single one of them actually made me flush with surprise and happiness; people like my book. That's a pretty awesome feeling.

One of the other things I found to do is watch TV on my computer in bed. I've got a confession; I think I might be getting addicted to "Iron Chef USA." I watched it with my parents this weekend and, well, it's pretty cool. As a food lover, I can't believe what those chefs can throw together in 'one hour'. Since it's TV, I have to think some prep work was done ahead of time and the 'secret ingredient' wasn't so secret. My favourite is Mario Batali. Wow, he makes me hungry. Last night, I discovered that The Food Network has some full episodes to watch online so I watched Jamie Oliver (aka "The Naked Chef") take on Mario Batali. They had to use a weird fish called Cobia. Both chefs made dishes that actually looked like they'd be tasty but as he seems to always do, Mario Batali was the one that made me want to reach into my television and sample his food. There's something deeply satisfying about watching a talented chef cook.

Believe it or not, this weekend was the first time I've ever really seen "Iron Chef". I do love the food network. Alton Brown's "Good Eats" was my previous favourite. He's a great cook too because he makes sense of what he cooks and how flavours work together. Also, he doesn't have all the fancy gadgets to use that make me feel woefully amateur because I do not have a Chinese Hat Funnel in my kitchen. Jamie Oliver used on of those last night on "Iron Chef".

The Food Network is the reason I don't have cable or satellite TV. I know, for a fact, that if I did have it, I would probably always find a way to procrastinate and turn on the TV. There's always something to watch on that channel. I tend to indulge at my parents' house. I love Anthony Bourdain's shows, I like Alton Brown, I love Iron Chef. I've also watched that show with the bald man who goes round the world eating disgusting things. For the life of me, I can't remember the name but it's on late and he will eat ANYTHING. I find it disgustingly entertaining. I also liked that "Dinner: Impossible" show in which a man goes to places and throws together a meal for huge amounts of people in a very short time.

You get the idea. I love food, thus, I love the Food Network. It's very dangerous to my productivity.

Just in case you were wondering and (*SPOILER ALERT), Mr. Batali did defeat Jamie Oliver in "Iron Chef USA". Not that it's a shocker. I will say that Jamie Oliver only lost by 3 points and he made fish and chips using Guiness beer in the batter which made me like him. Also, he's British which made me like him even more. It was pretty amazing watching two chefs battle it out because neither of them got flustered, they just focused on the task at hand. What amazes me is their soux chefs who get none of the glory on screen but are running around, making it possible for the Iron Chef and his competitor to masterfully create dishes with the ingredients they've prepped.

It reminds me of that film, "Ratatouille." Aside from the fact that the film disgusts me greatly because it's a RAT in the KITCHEN, TOUCHING FOOD, I do like the fact that we get inside the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen at work. I liked the food aspect of that movie. I just can't watch it enjoyably because even if it's a cartoon, there are still RATS. In a Kitchen. Touching Food. I find it ironic that I have a vivid imagination but I can't get beyond the fact that I'm disgusted by the rats, even though they're animated and they can talk. Really, I should be able to suspend my disbelief that these aren't real rats; they're magical talking ones that aren't disgusting and covered with germs.

Yet, after I saw "Ratatouille," I saw a real rat in the jasmine patch I walked by daily when I worked at USC. I tried to picture that rat in a cute chef's hat, talking to me, washing his paws ready to cook. I couldn't do it. All I saw was a nasty, germ infested creature with beady eyes and a horrible, long, naked tail. Apparently, my suspension of disbelief doesn't extend to rats cooking, no matter how often they wash their hands.

I think I'll stick to watching master chefs in the kitchen at work, chefs that stand up on human legs, washing their human hands and cooking human dishes with the help of other humans. I'll stick to my Iron Chef's and my bald men eating disgusing foods. Which, my apologies, is NOT on the Food Network but is on the Travel Channel and it's called "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman." Sorry, Andrew Zimmerman, I shall try to remember your name and not called you "Bald Man who Eats Weird Food." Still, Travel Channel or Food Network, I still love watching people cook and eat. It's a good distraction from life.

Happy Wednesday.

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