Saturday, 19 February 2011

Who is Michelin?

        One of the things I love about living in England is that the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) provides a plethora of cooking shows.  There is information about many of the shows I like at this website: 
        Some of the featured chefs and cooks I like are The Hairy Bikers,( Simon King and Dave Meyers), James Martin, Ainsley Harriott, Nigel Slater, Raymond Blanc, Rachel Allen.
        One of the most popular cooking shows on television here is called Master Chef, hosted by Gregg Wallace and John Torode.  This year’s competition started this week.  For my American audience, the premise of the show is that amateur cooks compete over a series of weeks to win the title of Master Chef.  They are judged by John and Gregg on cooking skills, presentation, taste and creativity.  Yes, it is reality television—but at least it is also educational.  I’ve learned a lot watching Master Chef. 
        Watching all these cooking shows has also made me acutely aware of why I could never become a Michelin Star, professional chef. 
1)      Alcohol:  I hate the taste and smell of any drink made from fermented fruit or grain.  Whilst watching a show one of the cooks will add wine to spaghetti Bolognese sauce and I immediately think; “Leave that out!”  I’ve tasted various wines and spirits.  The result is the same—shudders of horror.  Have you ever tasted a really strong, bitter cough syrup, or smell rubbing alcohol?  That’s how wines, liqueurs and beer taste/smell to me.  Hence, I can’t/won’t cook with them.  The standard remark is: “The alcohol cooks out, you can’t get tipsy.”  The affects of the alcohol is not the issue—it’s the smell and the taste that I find objectionable.  
2)      Mushrooms and blue cheese:  Thankfully these ingredients don’t possess strong scents.  But they are foods whose origins are from rot:  mushrooms are fungus—think mould.  And blue cheese is also infected with mould—which is what makes it blue.  I have made an effort to learn to like mushrooms—but as they cook, the scent is released, and to me it smells like a musty athletic locker room.  My taste buds protest these little items rarely enter my kitchen.
3)      Olives:  Another fruit whose flavours totally elude my happy taste buds.  I’ve tried these on many occasions—both black and green.  Olives are a great source of minerals, anti-oxidants and vitamins.  But sadly, my taste buds revolt when exposed to these Mediterranean produce. 
4)      Curry and chillies:  One of the key ingredients in Asian food and Mexican food is cumin.  My digestive system reacts like bicarbonate soda and vinegar when I eat anything that contains cumin, curry powder mixtures and hot chillies.  Occasionally I can get away with a very mild curry that has lots of cooling ingredients mixed in, such as yogurt, cocoa nut milk and cucumber.  But my tongue and throat are very sensitive to the oils that burn in chillies, peri-peri and other hot spices.  (Peri-Peri is referred to as African Devil or African Red Devil).  When My Midnight Man cooks, occasionally he’ll add peri-peri to the meat without telling me.  When my mouth begins to tingle, then burn and that taste of chilli unfolds I look at him and say; “Did you add peri-peri?”  He may not add much—but I can always tell.  

Perhaps what is most ironic is that My Midnight Man likes a nice glass of wine.  Olives—both black and white—get included in the shopping because My Midnight Man enjoys an olive and feta cheese salad.  He will eat Roquefort cheese, Stilton Cheese and other blue cheeses.  We often buy some if we have guests coming for dinner.  With a fire-proof mouth, My Midnight Man relishes curry—the hotter the better.  Thankfully My Midnight Man likes most everything else I cook—which is great.  
Most professional cooks use at least one or more of the above ingredients.  And just because I don’t like wine, brandy, liqueurs, mushrooms, olives, blue cheeses or hot spices, doesn’t mean I’m not a good cook.  I’m a home cook who loves to do what I can do well.  I truly enjoy making food that people enjoy.  And what is amazing, wonderful and exciting is that recently I’ve had people asking me to teach them what I know.  So, with that kind of endorsement, who needs a star anyway?
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith


  1. I know what you mean about certain ingredients. I can't eat onions and they are in so many recipes. I can cook without onions what everyone else cooks with them, I just add celery instead, and most people can't taste the difference. We can be inspired by the TV cooks (I love watching Jamie Oliver) but then we adapt to our own tastes.

  2. The part I hate is that I can never get drunk on her meals!!! And we also never have beer or whisky flavoured steaks and mushrooms! :-)

  3. Wow! You must make a lot of dual dinners! Do you? Or how does that work?
    My tastebuds are with John, I must say. In my experience, wine in tomato sauce doesn't give it a wine flavor that I can tell. Then again, I have never ever bought a ''vodka'' sauce, because I cannot imagine the taste of vodka improving anything, so I totally know where you're coming from!! Red wine, to me, compliments tomatoes and beef, but I just can't think of vodka working out the same. Patrick's tastebuds used to agree with mine - actually, it used to be he didn't seem to taste much, and we hot-sauced everything to keep him chewing and swallowing. Now he complains that things are spicy, and I DO sometimes cook one thing for him and another for me after he goes to bed. I had to coerce him into tasting the chili I made last night, because I served his up before adding any spice at all, so it was (to me) about the blandest thing ever, but he was convinced it was going to be spicy. He did gobble it up once he tried it.
    My grandmother is allergic to garlic, and I just can't imagine that, because I use garlic in EVERYTHING. I sometimes can some stock for her, and ''not adding garlic'' is an extra step in the process, because it's so ingrained.
    Mushrooms don't last long in our fridge - Patrick and I both snack. Blue cheeses, olives, love it all.
    Have you ever put mint in a dish with tomatoes and beef? It goes REALLY well. I have a patch of it out back just for that.
    You must have very sensitive tastebuds and nose. I'll have to pay attention next time I cook mushrooms, because I didn't think they had any smell!
    I have a lovely ''single'' day before me - Brian and Patrick are visiting his parents. Sadly, it's not a FREE day, because the freezer is dying and so I need to clean for the landlord to look at it, but still, a chance to breathe is good.
    Have a nice weekend!
    From a friend