Sunday, March 05, 2017

A different thought

This is paraphrased from "Cooking for Geeks" (an interesting book: it has some recipes but it's more about techniques and the science of cooking. I pulled it off the shelf to remind myself that I really probably was safe if I only cooked my steak to an internal temperature of 135 F....*)

Anyway, elsewhere in the book, the author is giving Advice for Those Learning to Cook, and one of his pointers is "don't expect it to be perfect the first or second or even third time." And he goes on to add that chasing perfection isn't really necessary - and he cites the difference between Julia Child and Martha Stewart. Julia Child, he said, was largely loved because she didn't give off a "perfect" vibe (he cites the incident - which I thought was apocryphal - where she dropped a chicken on the floor, rinsed it off, and put it back in the oven) and people fear or dislike Martha Stewart because she seems so perfect.

And while I think there's more to it : Stewart, to me, comes across as very "cold" - someone it would be hard to make friends with, and Child comes across as totally the opposite (I particularly love the shows she did late-in-life with other well known chefs like Jacques Pepin - by and large there was a real affection and camaraderie there that was fun to watch), maybe there is some truth to that I need to remember. (It could also be that Stewart is seriously shy, and I'm interpreting her wrong. I mean, I'm shy but I make an effort to talk to people because I don't want people to think I'm cold, but I know for some shy people it's hard)

(I also think of the person who told me, shortly before I graduated grad school and moved down here, that "Spencer** always sort of fancied you but he was too intimidated by your accomplishments to ask you out" and that made me sad because I would have gone on at least one date with Spencer if I had known - at least one, just to see if we clicked, because who knows? But anyway. Maybe being "too good" has its pitfalls and "not quite perfect" is more endearing.

And anyway: Spencer won the same exact TA teaching award as I did, so his accomplishments were not less than mine. And even if they were, that wouldn't have mattered. (And any of you reading this who know me VERY well now know who "Spencer" is)

(**Not his real name)

(*Yes, most likely: the most common bacteria I would be likely to be sickened by die around 120 F. And yes, I like my steaks fairly rare - shoot, as I've said before, if I could trust the source of the beef I'd willingly eat beef tartare. (And I hope someday to get the chance to try it, but it might require befriending a rancher whose farming practices I trust, and also befriending a butcher that I know would be scrupulously clean and NOT cross-contaminate with pork or something). And another thing: it does make me slightly sad that now in some circles, how you want your steak cooked is apparently a political statement. Can we not? I eat my steaks medium rare because I like 'em that way and have always cooked 'em that way, not because I'm doing it as a political protest or some dumb form of resistance.)

And it's funny how I can accept imperfection in some things I do but not in others: I don't get too bugged when I make an omelet and it doesn't roll right; I can still eat the slightly-broken omelet and it tastes the same. It DOES feel like an accomplishment when I get it to look like a picture in a magazine, but I don't beat myself up if it doesn't.

I kind of feel the same way about quilts, which is probably why I need to get back to working on them: if the points don't perfectly match or the seams are a little dog-leggy, as long as the whole looks good I'm fine with it. (And that's also partly why I'd never enter one in a judged show; I don't need someone pointing out all the tiny imperfections in my quilt to me.)

ETA: In the spirit of research, I looked it up. I was right: Julia Child never did drop a chicken on the floor. She DID mis-flip a potato pancake, but it landed on a table, not the floor:

1 comment:

purlewe said...

I think the idea that Julia dropped a chicken is from when SNL did Julia. I think that was Dan Akroyd.