Food on TV, and a love letter to Alton Brown

While watching my fiftieth or so episode of Good Eats, I realized that I had never once prepared a recipe shown on the show. Same for Chef at Home, Top Chef, Iron Chef America…  It was delicious entertainment. But I felt guilty. Should I be cooking along? Or is it okay to sit back and enjoy the view?

For me, the pleasure I get from watching cooking shows is watching a professional create something beautiful from something simple. The chef takes ingredients and procedures that I understand, and from those known elements the chef produces a dish I don’t quite understand. Yeah, I “understand” how to brown butter for a sauce, but I don’t get why it’s so goddamn delicious.

It’s magic as far as I know. I have proof that it’s magic, as I have watched on multiple occasion my brother, a chef, create the same delicious sorcery in plain view. I see what’s happening but don’t quite “get it.” This experience is replicated daily in the relationship between television chef and home cook.

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