November 20, 2009
I’ve been thinking of becoming a professional chef. I watch a lot of cooking shows and they make it look really easy and fun, plus, with at least seven different television channels devoted to making everyone who’s ever worked in, eaten in, or heard of a restaurant into a celebrity, being a professional chef might be the one guaranteed job market in a down economy. And these shows are amazingly educational. For instance I’ve learned that there are at least four hundred different names for custard, that no one really knows what the difference is between extra virgin olive oil and super slutty olive oil except that you can get some really interesting diseases from one, and that everything sounds appealing if you give it an elaborate French name. For instance, the next time you throw together a quick lunch, tell your coworkers you’re having terrine du Bologne sur broquettes with an emulsion of ground moutard in vinegar, and they’ll never suspect that you’re having a baloney sandwich with mustard. The French name is important because, as we all know, the French are very concerned with food. Napoleon himself said, "An army marches on its stomach", which made sense back in the days when they’d put cannons behind the infantry. In fact Napoleon only went into Russia because he had a serious craving for borscht. It was just his luck that he’d go during the greatest borscht shortage they’d seen since Ivan the Terrible.
Also I’ve learned that professional chefs sweat a lot, and it is somewhat unappetizing to see chefs leaning over frying pans or bowls of whipped cream while beads of sweat dangle from the tips of their noses. That professional chefs sweat a lot is something we’d probably all realize if we thought about it, but who really wants to think about it? At least it explains why chefs wear those big poofy hats. All that sweat goes straight up into their hats. And yet the chefs on television never wear hats, which explains why they’re on television and not in a restaurant. No one wants to eat borscht that’s been seasoned with sweat. Anyway, I’ll probably have to go to cooking school where I’ll learn incredibly useful things like how to make asparagus ice cream. And I’ll learn all about food depth and texture, so that whenever I eat something I won’t worry about whether it tastes good. I’ll worry about its depth and texture, and also I’ll ask, what the hell were they smoking when they invented asparagus ice cream? Maybe I’ll even go on one of those shows where two chefs battle to the death over who can make a better twelve-course meal with a secret ingredient like wasabi or baked beans or car batteries. The one thing that might be my undoing is if the secret ingredient is Brussels sprouts because nothing could make Brussels sprouts look tasty. Who first came up with Brussels sprouts and, perhaps more importantly, who decided they were food? And why pick on Brussels? Did Belgium lose a war or maybe a bet with another country? I can just imagine Belgian negotiators sitting down with a table with negotiators from Finland and saying, "Okay, we’ll take these tiny little cabbages, but you have to roll around in the snow and beat yourself with sticks after you’ve spent several hours in a sauna." My only chance would be to make Brussels sprouts ice cream and then run towards the judges saying, "Declare me the winner or I’ll make you eat this!" Or maybe the judges will be curious and I’ll be able to win by offering them some of whatever I was smoking when I came up with Brussels sprouts ice cream.