As members of my family would probably be quick to tell you, the phrase "indifferent cook" pretty well sums up my relationship with food. I'm not indifferent to food, mind you, just to cooking it. Cooking, to me, isn't an art or a passion, it's merely something that has to be done.
So I skim the food section of the newspaper in the same way I do the sports section—with respect for the feats some people achieve, mixed with amazement that it occurs to them to try those things in the first place.
Take the article this week about a chef described as a "French food legend." He was quoted as saying, "In cooking I often identify with the ingredient. I try to understand it, become one with it in order to recreate it."
Okay, maybe that's my problem. Back in the days of trying to put meals on the table that were economical, nutritious, and that at least four of the five kids would eat with minimal complaining, it never occurred to me to try to become one with the meatloaf or the tuna casserole. Which may be just as well. Who, after all, wants to be known as fast, cheap, and easy?
I could identify a little more with another article, which featured the opposite gastronomic extreme—fair food. It went so far as to list the calories and fat content for some of the traditional fair treats like funnel cakes, cotton candy, and several variations of fat-and-sugar-on-a-stick. This was a classic case of giving readers more information than they really want to know. Anyone who read it and could still eat a whole serving of fried Oreos had to have a poor memory for numbers.
There was some good news, however. Alligator on a stick is low in fat and a good source of protein.
We went to the fair that evening, and I wasn't even tempted to try a funnel cake or a cream puff. Maybe it was my unfortunately clear memory of the calorie counts in the article. Maybe it was the fact that I've tried both and didn't really care for them. Or maybe it was the fair aroma—that unique midway blend of hot grease, sugar, engine exhaust, and livestock.
Or possibly it was the quote from the French chef about becoming one with the food. That concept doesn't concern me. What worries me is the food becoming one with me. The alligator can just stay on its stick and away from my skin, thank you very much—and I certainly don't need any funnel cakes or cream puffs becoming one with my hips.