Thursday, July 1, 2010

Say 'No!' to Truffle Oil

How big is food in popular culture these days?  It is a large part of the 'Reality Television' phenomenon, with series upon series of contestants, who 'cook for their lives' (not literally, thank goodness!) with the hopes of winning money, notoriety and a cookbook deal.  I am a sucker for these shows, but I must admit, I am getting a little miffed by it all.

I mean, Tuesday night cooking for me is all about the sea urchin roe.

This is fine if you are cooking in a fully equipped state-of-the-art kitchen with a pantry stocked with the finest and most exotic ingredients, but this doesn't really apply to the average home kitchen, or play to my strengths.  It makes me feel a little 'inadequate'.

As you would know by now, I am a rather thrifty cook.  I buy simple ingredients and keep a well-stocked basic pantry.  I cook with love and my heart, and the meals I create are uncomplicated, healthy, generous and very satisfying.  Sometimes if I can afford it, I will buy more flashy ingredients if I want to spoil myself. (Or go on an ego trip rather than a shopping trip).

There are certain ingredients that have never crossed the threshold of my shopping cart.  Unless I really research their use, or need them for a particular recipe I doubt they ever will, but I have seen them pop up on reality cooking shows. How often do you use these ingredients?...

Black (or white) Truffle - (For my Friday's Truffle Pizza Night? Tres magnifique!) 
Chanterelle & Porcini Mushrooms - (It would be an upgrade from button mushies, sure)
Aged Beef - (Mmmm... Meat hanging for over a month really gets my juices flowing, no matter how much it costs per kilo)
Jerusalem Artichokes - (Ummmm?... Boil/pass through drum seive/smear small spoonful on plate for presentation)
Couveture Chocolate - (Because my chocolate tart is only good if I buy $20 worth of chocolate to fill it with)

"I said 'Don't forget the French Letters', Darling..."

I could go on.  It is funny, because as I look at the above ingredients, I think, 'Hmm... I could probably create a wonderful menu if this were all in a mystery box'... 

I don't mean to knock these ingredients.  I know that they have their place in certain cuisines and recipes.  I just find the hype over some a little pretentious.  I think I am more about what is 'in season', rather than 'in vogue'.

My food philosophy (yes, even though I am just a lowly home cook I have one) is to just buy what you can afford, to cook what you like to eat.  I don't want to be sucked into foodie peer pressure!  But when Ina Garten tells me to use good vanilla, I get a little verklempt!

I can just picture myself on a food challenge TV show, with a box of unfamiliar ingredients and a 30 minute time limit to create a dish, I most certainly would have a nervous breakdown.  Yes, you would see me crying into my fois gras and white anchovies and I would probably be the first person eliminated. 

Leave the fantasy cooking to television.  We can all eat the real food, while they do the experimenting for us.

Until next time...

Kitty xx

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