It’s been a good day. I started with baking a couple of loaves of bread. I moved on to a bit of morning exercises – although, unfortunately, not a run because that groin, well yeah, the groin. Got a small amount of yardwork done. Had a bowl of guacamole for lunch, had my nap.
Hold your horses.
Wrote another 1,000 words on The Irrepairable Past. Actually, I think I wrote more than that because there were some notes and random passages that I ended up finally deleting. So … I’m going to call it 1,500 words. It’s still too short. Only 35,000 words at the moment and I’m not sure just how much story there is left to tell. But I decided that once I think I have it finished, I’m going to make a serious effort to read, edit and see if there’s more story I can tell.
From there I moved on to dinner preparations. I put together the carbonara sauce — a wonderful, incredible combination of cream, parmesan, garlic, egg and bacon. No, I do not put peas in my carbonara. That makes absolutely no sense to me.
And then I shifted to making the pasta dough for the fettucini, and here’s where the topic of this post comes in.
Last weekend, I found myself sucked into a streaming marathon of Worst Cooks in America on The Food Network. This is a show I’ve never watched and what they were showing was a previous season of the show. Somehow I got hooked.
As the show progressed, I became convinced that these people were not actually the worst cooks in America. They start off each season with each cook preparing their “signature” dish. What each one comes up with is so ridiculous and hideous, I really can’t imagine that they are actual, real dishes. Then, over the course of the season, they learn how to make dishes after the real chef walks them through the process. Apparently, one of the episodes always involves homemade pasta.
So, I’m watching towards the end of the season and they’re showing clips of the two “worst cooks” that made it to the final. One of the clips shows one of those chefs casually talking to the master chef while making pasta dough.
Here’s the deal. I’ve been making my own pasta for 20-25 years. I don’t always make homemade pasta, but probably 10-12 times a year, I make some fettucini and want it fresh and homemade. The “real” way to do this is to put the flour on your work surface, form a well in the center, put the eggs and other wet ingredients in the well, and then mix the wet ingredients with a fork and gradually incorporate the flour into the wet mixture.
The key to this is you have to do it without the wet ingredients breaching the walls of that well. Otherwise, you have a wet, sticky mess and it’s hard to get it all back together again.
I’ve made my pasta dough this way at times. When I want to impress somebody or I just feel like living dangerously. But for the most part, I put the flour in a bowl, form the well, put the wet ingredients in and then do the same thing as the “real” way, but with the comfort of knowing that the wall of the bowl will be my back up. It’s a lot more relaxed way to make homemade pasta.
Back to Worst Cooks …
As I said, the “worst cook” was making pasta while talking to the master chef. She was making it the “real” way. This is simply not something a horrible cook could just do with a walk through from somebody else. It’s actually a difficult thing to pick up and get right. It’s the same thing with a lot of the other cooking techniques these “worst cooks” are suddenly able to replicate with any practice, based almost entirely on a single demonstration from the master chef.
Once I saw that clip, I became convinced that Worst Cooks in America is a scam. I’m going back to never watching the show, which is actually what I’ve done until last weekend. (Mark, stop being sucked into stupid shows!)