Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Life Cycle of a Food: Death on the Plate

The pots de crème came out wonderfully, despite the mishaps of making them. Which I suppose just goes to show that making food is like making children: completely horrible.

I think it’s time that we had “the talk.” Let me take you, dear readers, on the wonderful and mysterious journey of food’s life cycle.

Food begins as just a twinkle in the eye of the randy chef. It starts as raw ingredients. These come from a magical place called the grocery store. If you want to know where they come from before that, you’ll have to ask a scientist, or a farmer, or maybe a professional wrestler, I don’t know. Stop asking questions.

Raw ingredients sit around in the fridge or pantry until they are very close to spoiling. That’s when the chef begins to hear her culinary clock ticking, and she realizes that she has very little time remaining in which she can still cook something. (This might also be around the time she realizes that her acting career isn’t going to materialize after all.)

The chef gathers this fetal-food and begins the birthing process. Much screaming and gnashing of teeth ensues. There is grating, sautéing. Maybe something catches on fire. Possibly some hot and heavy zesting goes on—I don’t know, what you do in your bedroom is your own business.

At any rate, the fetal-food at some point enters the incubation process. This can be anywhere from a few minutes to days, depending on exactly how disappointed you are that your life is turning out to be much more meaningless than you’d planned.

(Side note: the prudent chef sticks to preparation processes that are left largely unsupervised. Sure, it’s fine to stir the food now and then, and maybe play it a bit of Mozart, but largely you should leave it the hell alone. You’ll see sickos on television sipping the broth and adding a pinch more oregano or whathaveyou. This is disgusting. If the recipe calls for me to sample the embryonic fluids of my gestating food, I know it’s the devil’s work.)

And then—voila!—the food is born. It takes up residence on a plate and begins its glorious existence. The food’s life span is inversely proportional to how long it took to produce. Therefore, tamales you spent three full days preparing should last approximately four minutes before they enter what’s politely called “ignoble death.”

Food that has not been conveyed into someone’s belly sits on the counter for a while, gradually cooling and coagulating. In a few hours, the food is dead and is ready for a proper tupperware burial. It’s sealed in plastic and embalmed in the refrigerator until such time as all mourners have had a chance to push past it for a soda. After a month or so, the food and its coffin are conveyed to the trash bin and a nice fellow comes around and carries it off to its final resting place.

Then the chef buys new tupperware.

Now, some crackpots will whisper to you tales of mystical creatures known as leftovers. These mad cooks like to dig up dead food from the depths of the fridge and reanimate it for later consumption. Don’t fall for it. Reanimated food is an abomination. And chances are it will eat your brain before you can swallow a morsel of its flesh. Don’t play god with your food—or we’ll all be running through the streets from giant zombie stroganoffs.


Blogger David Wester said...

That nice fellow is known as
The Undertaker

9:53 AM  

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