You know the magazines I'm talking about: Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Chef, Pretentious and Most Likely Inedible Cooking Monthly, etc.
These are publications read mostly by people who fancy themselves to be amateur gourmets. There is a part of me that wants to be one of these people, but two things get in the way:
- I rarely cook anything more complicated than macaroni and cheese.
- I'm honestly not sure whether some of the suggested dishes in these magazines are meant as a joke.
I recently read an interview with a chef who was asked to describe the best meal he had ever eaten. His answer (I'm not kidding) was, "buttermilk and pine salt chicken with pigeon sausage, and raisin and stout chutney."
I'm sorry, what?
For me, that's nothing more than a string of vaguely food-related words that may or may not mean anything.
Seriously, I'm brimming with questions about this supposedly real meal, like:
- Is the buttermilk separate? Or was the main course "buttermilk and pine salt chicken?" I'll assume the latter, but it should be mentioned that my dad used to drink whole glasses of straight-up buttermilk, so I can't be sure.
- I don't know what "pine salt" is. Or is it "salt chicken" seasoned with pine? I'm not even sure how to read that phrase.
- Pigeon sausage? Really? Pigeon sausage? I just...well, I mean...pigeon sausage? Who does that? Who, in the words of my friend Jennifer Cimperman, lives like that? Pigeons are meant to be fed in the park, not eaten. With OR without pine salt.
- And what's the deal with this raisin and stout chutney? I had heard the word "chutney" before, but I wasn't sure what it was, so of course I let Google figure it out for me. Chutney, it turns out, is "a spicy condiment made of fruits or vegetables with vinegar, spices and sugar, originating in India."
- This does not explain how "stout" ended up in there. I know stout to be a dark beer, and I assume that's the meaning intended here. It would never occur to me to mix raisins (which I like) with stout (which I also like). Just because two things are good doesn't mean you should mix them. That's the one and only culinary law to which I hold firmly.
Yet ratings for cooking shows have never been higher. Chefs are more than just preparers of tasty food. They're celebrities. They're artists. They're cultural icons.
Not that I'm denigrating their skills. They do something I never could. It's just...I think they (and we) have taken the whole thing a little too far.
Because, you know...pigeon sausage?