Well, here I am… blogging… for the first time. I have to say I’ve held a deep down prejudice against blogs… and those that write, create… or, for that matter, have anything to do with them. I’ve had this growing preconception for years that all “Bloggers” are self-centered, righteous, know-it-alls. I’ll be the first to admit — I judged them, harshly. I thought, “Really — Who cares what you think or say? Who cares that you went to the grocery store today… or that your son said his first word… or that you drive a six-cylinder something-or-another sports car? Who cares. Why are you wasting space on the internet, taking up valuable http://____.com sites to “blog” every time you have a new thought, experience an event, or have a feeling? Why?
…and then I realized. People who blog don’t blog for others. They don’t listen to the judgements cast by those halfway around the world… or by those next door. Bloggers don’t care. And this is why — Bloggers blog for themselves. And the second I had that thought… that’s the second I could not stop thinking about blogging.
So, again, here I am. Out in the open, stripped of secrecy, visible to anyone who looks… and that’s pretty intimidating. Granted, I guess I have “Blogger’s mentality” because I don’t care what you think about my blog; it’s mine. This (clearing my throat, throwing shoulders back, sitting up straight, and pointing at the computer screen), THIS is my blog. And while I don’t understand “Blog talk” — widgets, post tags, clouds… the list goes on — I’m pretty gosh-darned proud of getting the courage to type here. …But typing what exactly? What’s this blog about, built around, what’s my “theme?” Two words — Alton Brown.
Okay, okay. If for some reason I did have any readers, I probably lost them then. But again — This is my blog. I’m in charge here. And I’m absolutely, 115 percent content with my topic. So without further adieu, let me explain…
Since I was little, I didn’t “enjoy” cooking. Sure, I helped my mom in the kitchen and that was fun… until she would ask me to “open this can” or “stir this” or “get that”… then, it was another chore. And sure, my sister and I could cook whatever we wanted, for the most part, whenever we wanted — spaghetti sauce, sugar cookies, fudge… anything to promote cooking. The problem is when you’re young, you don’t think of cooking as a “fun” activity… well, at least most kids don’t… and I was (in this category at least) like most kids. When I went away to college, my mentality didn’t change either. In fact, I grew to hate cooking. It was something that got in the way of life, took time out of my hard studying, and created several minutes (if not hours) of me pacing by the oven before I could finally fill my hungry stomach. But after graduation, that all changed.
As every story does, I met a guy. And this guy is the most amazing person I have ever had the privilege of meeting. So, naturally, I wanted (and still want) to do everything in my power to impress him. …I can hear my mom now, rehashing that wornout saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Is it true? I don’t know. I can say though, some of the best times I have with my boyfriend are when we cook together.
We started with small steps, taking something I could trust… and morphing it into something that became “us.” For that beginning hook, I turned to a copy of my mom’s faithful cookbook, the one she has in her cupboard and slides out every time she needs a guide, the “right” answer. Since then, we’ve been through a few different cookbooks. And it’s interesting, because I think cookbooks are like diaries, illistrating a certain time in one’s life. Like I said, we began with one I trusted, one I could confidentially take the first plunge with. Then you have the next “phase” — the extravagant ones, because you’re feeling pretty darn confident in your cooking so you want to be different, be “your own person” (as my sister says). …And then (drum roll) you get over your rebellious stage (you know — the died-pink-hair, the black-nail-polish, the tongue-piercing-age) and you get a cookbook that makes sense. Enter here Alton Brown.
James (my boyfriend) and I were flipping channels one day and came across this balding, scrawny, “four-eyed” man (so sorry Alton) who could certainly fill a cooking show with grand themes, crazy characters and over-the-top science. I’d seen him before on TV… and I’d also stopped to watch before… that is, before I flipped the channel. But this day, it was different. James and I were absorbed in what he was saying. We hung onto each of his words, had both of our mouths wide-open, eyes bulging, portraying This-is-the-most-intelligent-person-I’ve-seen looks. And (for those that know me) I’m not exaggerating this time. We were (and are) enthralled someone thought to explain cooking. Now, I’m not talking about explaining recipes … which means I’m not talking Rachael Ray or Guy Fieri (no offense intended). I’m talking explaining the history behind a dish — its scientific name, how it came to be, where it came from, it’s LIFE. Explaining things like how dough rises, go into detail on what part of the animal meat comes from and why it’s more tender compared to this or that part… even telling what pots, pans and utensils are rumored-to-be used and, well, which ones are actually need. In sum: The show — “Good Eats.”
I took the liberty of DVR-ing (is that even a word?) the show so James and I could watch the recorded episodes together… and we did, practically every chance we got. …And then, there was me. As I do with everything I enjoy, I went overboard. I began obsessing about “Good Eats.” My brain — if you think of it as a sponge — was getting dry, and I wanted mooore, a lot more. So, James and I went to the bookstore to see what cookbook I could wrangle up with Alton Brown’s John Hancock. I told James, “James, I want Alton’s TV show. In a cookbook. Everything — All the recipes, all the history, all the charts and categories. James, I want ALL the information.” Now deep-down inside, I knew I was asking for too much. I knew (like I do with the lottery, every single time) I was getting my hopes up beyond where they should remain tied. …but, I doubted Alton Brown. Add this onto the ba-jillion reasons he’s amazing: Alton was able to create exactly what I desired. As Alton believes, a cookbook should not be just recipes; it should be a guide to more. His book — “Good Eats: The Early Years.”
(Deep sigh) How does all this deal with blogging though? Here’s how — I decided I adore Alton (yes, we are on a first name basis). He rejuvenated me as a cook — I went from a cook-hating procrastinator… to one who can’t stop thinking about cooking. I now want a huge kitchen for the new pots, pans and utensils covering my Christmas list. I want to try every single food in the world… and I want to cook anything I can get my hands on. So why not start at the beginning… at the beginning of “Good Eats: The Early Years” that is. I decided to read every depleted uranium ink-based word and fix every application. (PS-On applications: As Alton says, “We don’t have recipes, we have applications. We call them that because we like to think that they are applied to knowledge. We’d call them ‘proofs,’ you know, like mathematic proofs, but math kind of scares me. Anyway, we’ve reworked most of them and just adjusted others.”) To go full-force, I even decided to purchase every tool he mentions, because as Alton writes (get over it; I’m going to quote him a lot because he’s brilliant), “I hate to see people not having fun doing it [cooking] just because they don’t have the right tools — which is not to say they need the prettiest, best, most expensive tools. They just need the tools that are right for them.” Now. If you know anything about cooking (heck, even a new “hobby”), it can get pricey. Well, like many out there, I’m not made of money… so I decided to fix one “Good Eats: The Early Years” application every time I got paid. That means two paychecks a month equal two new dishes I’ve yet to wrap my mind (and mouth) around.
I’d like to remind you here that I did admit I am obsessed with “Good Eats”… so once I had the atom of every show in the palm of my hands, it seemed absolutely idiotic for me to wait until only two times a week to read each episode (and episode it is because the book is set up exactly how it airs on TV; how exciting!). I’ve never had patience for anything so I delved head-first into Alton’s book… and finished a few weeks later.
Now here’s where the blog part comes in. So far, I’ve completed two applications… and failed on the third. …Yep… failed. That means if a culinary teacher were behind me, they would have not only given me a big, fat “F” for the day; they would have probably kicked me out of class. Yes. It was that bad. (More to come on my mess up in another blog). But… out of the chaos arose hope. Blogging. I figured (and yes, this a very, very teensy-tiny possibility) if someone looked at my blog… and if that person cooked… maybe they would comment to me… and maybe they would offer suggestions on ways to improve. Because, let’s be downright honest, the possibility of me getting a Blogger to read, respond and help is a heck of a lot larger than me contacting Alton and getting his personal advice.
So there you have it. I’m blogging for a couple reasons:
A) For myself because I love cooking, and after James leaves me for the day, I’m all alone… thinking… dreaming… obsessing about cooking. And as we all know, that’s not healthy. So I’m following one of my life-time mottos… ‘write.’ That simple. When you’re angry, write. When you’re happy, write. When you have something to get off your chest and not keep tucked inside — like I was doing about cooking — write. (And yes, I studied English for four years so it’s probably showing now.) So, I’m going to do just that. Since paper journals aren’t convenient anymore (they cannot be easily edited, they run out pages, the list goes on…), I created a blog: Acquiring a Taste… because that’s what I’m doing, finally acquiring a taste for cooking. So with this first step, I’m going to blog about every single application I fix. (Yeah, yeah. Enter “Julie and Julia” jokes here. But, while I respect her blogging decision, I’m different. I’m different because of point B…)
B) I need help. I want to be a great cook. I want to fix food for those I love, like they did in the good ‘ol days when neighbors and family members brought baskets full of food to one’s door. And I want to entertain, with a dream of mine being someone I invited saying, “Wow. How on earth did you make this? This is the most amazing thing I’ve eaten. I have to have your recipe.” …Instead, right now, I can’t even get past eggs (and yes, if you didn’t guess… that‘s what I failed on). So I need your help. If you’re out there. If you’re listening. Help me.
Meanwhile, Alton — You and I are walking hand in hand, facing the world and, you’re giving me the chance to cook. Thank you. Thank you much.