On-air chefs whip her brain into a frenzyNow that I have reached the suitable age for marriage, I’ve begun getting a barrage of inquiries about when I’ll be taking the solemn vows. My good old reply is “Well, who knows, at least within a decade or two.” As a typical 20-something in an era when “Sex and the City” rules, I haven’t the slightest intention to tie the knot with any haste.
No wonder I was taken aback when my dear mom suggested recently that I try cooking at least once a week on a regular basis ― just in case, considering my eligible age. It’s not that I detest cooking; I love it as much as I relish eating. Come to think of it, my favorite cable TV channels include the Food Channel, where chefs whip up magic in the kitchen.
With all three major TV stations, KBS, MBC and SBS, apparently uninterested in running cooking shows, the three-year-old Food Channel would seem to stand alone in offering culinary programming. It now airs more than 20 shows related to cooking. French, Chinese, Italian, Korean cuisine: You name it, they’ve got it.
Once I’ve tuned in, I can’t turn my head, until I feel I can eat a horse. After I watch these programs, however, I somehow feel so exhausted that I end up eating out instead of cooking for myself.
One thing that I have little taste for on the Food Channel, though, is its tried-and-true formula. There is always this chef, an authority of a certain cuisine, with a top-down teaching method that comes across as high-handed. The cooks act as if there is nothing easier than cooking, and I start to wonder, “How come they remain so tidy when I get covered in flour and egg yolk?”
Another thing that rubs me the wrong way is when cooks refer to some exotic ingredients as if they’re buying cereal from the corner mom-and-pop. Last week’s Italian chef introduced some stuff called arugula, a vegetable I’m told, as the core ingredient of that day’s cooking. I did not have a clue where to get it in Seoul (If you know where to buy this fresh arugula stuff, please do not hesitate to e-mail me.)
Then there’s the show’s host, more like an assistant to the chef, who has the right to taste the dish after it’s completed. With the chef wearing a look as if he’s facing Judgement Day, the host tastes a spoonful of the dish.
There is zero possibility that the host will speak ill of the cooking; without fail, he drops words like “Delicious,” “Good” and “Oh my god.” The sound of him chewing and swallowing, which travels through the powerful microphone quite well, is quite unpleasant.
One cooking show that comes across as nearly flawless is “Jamie’s Kitchen,” airing at 7:30 a.m., 4:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and midnight daily. Without even wearing an apron, the British cook Jamie Oliver cooks for the day’s guests of honor. The recipes span the full spectrum of cuisine and dessert.
Mr. Oliver has a lively personality and doesn’t need to put on airs. Rather, he tries to affirm the universal truth that cooking and eating are among the best parts of our lives. Mr. Oliver even claims his own online fan club in Korea.
All I have to do now, it seems, is to find my own Jamie. Having a househusband is not such a bad idea after all ― though I’m not so sure my mom would agree.
by Chun Su-jin