Thursday, December 03, 2009

Did you watch Top Chef last night?

One of the three shows that I try to make a point of watching every week is Top Chef. I can't help it--I think it's absolute genius to watch a show that the contestants are judged by how things taste, and yet the audience never actually tastes it. But yet week after week, I believe Tom Colicchio when he says the foie gras is too salty. Pure damn genius.

So as a crazy lunatic Top Chef fan, I'm not sure if this absolutely hysterical recap of last night's episode will be as meaningful if you don't actually watch it, but if you don't at least emit a chuckle over the summary of the commercial break, then you have no soul.

A commercial break: Erica, the grand pooba of pasta (Handy!), chancellor of cheese (Fresh!), connoisseur of cold (Chilly!) stuck in eternal repetition of infernal domesticity, the unwanted and illegitimate daughter of Julia Child and Sisyphus since September 2007. The choreography of her misery augmented by the words and sounds that float and freeze across her sound and vision. One voice, a man's; the chorus belonging to women who one imagines wear black velvet dresses; the guitar a twobit Shaft riff from a complacent studio musician named Walter. "Am I insane?" she thinks, panicked behind a Westport smile. "No," she relaxes. "For at least the words the women are saying are the same words that appear on the screen. At least I can hold on to that." Her capillaries relax. But as she holds up her hot dog made from the undifferentiated corpses of a small shtetl of holsteins, (Viceroy of Value!), she sees the word "Tasty" next to her Piggly Wiggly face but hears the word "Yummy!"

The eggshell cracks but perhaps it was just a momentary blip in the world largely seamlessly. She seals her wiener in a Glad bag, still clinging like a rat to rubbish to her happiness. "Thrifty!" the steel gray of the word threatens to bang into her temple. "Alright," she says, "if I hear Wilson Phillips say 'Thrifty' I'm sane and it's all okay. I'm not a sad clown. I'm a woman, a mother. My husband isn't cheating on me. He'll find a job soon." But then the voices come. "Economical!" it says with malign glee. Erica, the grand pooba of pasta, chancellor of cheese, connoisseur of cold, collapses like a soufflé onto her linoleum floor. Her apron bunches, her legs splayed. She's crying and her tears pool on the clear plastic coffins of food unwanted. Happily, her hot dog stays dry. A moment's reprieve is all Erica's misery earns her and then the music starts again. She rises up, compelled by a tourbillon of the wretched, and reties her apron. "Erica!" the voices say and Glad is misery.

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Anonymous said...

I love "Top Chef" but have you ever watched "Chopped"? Now that is cooking! Take a basket with 3 mystery ingredients (M&M's, arugula and sardines or something equally insane)and whip up a perfectly prepared,beautiful and tasty appetizer/entree/dessert... in 20-30 minutes. There are enough snarky sides from the contestants and judges between rounds to keep it fun, but it is truly amazing to see the dishes they come up with and the drama in whether they'll finish in time.

Tracey said...

Love "Chopped" but I haven't seen the M&M-arugula-sardine episode. ;)