Over the weekend while 20-Somethings were off schmoozing with their fabulous friends at their weekend parties with their weekend energies and lust for life, I stayed in and cooked.
There was a particular meal which cloistered me so. It came from a NYTimes short video guest starring chef April Broomfield. She was making the most velvety, indulgent and sophisticated New England Clam Chowder.
I headed to our mid-level grocery store ready to ask the important questions. Were the clams Quahog clams? Were the pre-shucked, Saran-wrapped cobs of corn Long Island corn? Could they direct me to the dry Spanish white wines? Because I had seen Chileans but the “R”s on the label might not roll enough for my New York Times recipe.
I came back home and went into a total performance of cooking snobbery: four different pots on the stove at once, timing, chopping, seasoning as I went. Until I messed up one of the steps. Bad.
Real bad. Like, curdle the cream in the clam broth with all the veg and seafood in it, bad. Yellow clotted cream goop with a layer of fat and fishy bits in it, bad.
You know, I got really depressed about this. I sat down in defeat and thought…but…what about my blog? What will they think? Nobody wants to see a failure! AM I THE FAILURE?? WHY MEEEEEEEEEEEEE. It was kind of a catastrophic thought process but I had no clam chowder to eat, just a bottle of cheap Spanish white to drink, remember?
So I went on Twitter and ranted. I don’t use Twitter, mind you, because I don’t really “get it”. But I typed in April Bloomfield’s name and told her what happened, how I had dumped a pot of 50 dollars worth of food because her recipe failed to inform me about tempering milk, or cooking off wine, or explaining what the hell I was really doing. I just kind of yelled at the heavens.
I didn’t think anybody would answer.
Then April actually responded. She reviewed some of the steps with me, but essentially left it at “The number 1 rule in cooking is read the recipe twice.”
— April Bloomfield (@AprilBloomfield) December 9, 2013
WHATEVS Bloomfield. You a snob, kay?
And I was being a snob which is why I didn’t really learn the process, or the “why” behind what I was doing. All I have is more appreciation for the down-home chefs like Jamie Oliver who don’t come from a place of assumption and instead explain the “whys” and “hows” behind each step.
I conclude: it was not me. I am not a failure. A cook is only as good as her recipe.