We all have our guilty pleasures and mine is binge watching cooking shows. I'll watch anything from the informative and comedic teaching of Alton Brown's "Good Eats" to the serious and emotional tellings of Netflix's "Chef's Table." I'll watch just about anything if something good is being cooked and the the presenter is not a robot. There are a couple things about cooking shows that draw me to them, and others that bother me at the same time.
1. I think I know better
Anyone who watches cooking shows knows that they are guilty of this. We'll be watching "Chopped" and see someone miss an "obvious" flavor combination or mix two things that do not go together and just yell at the TV in frustration over their mistake. I, a 20 year-old college student with no formal culinary training, attempting to lecture trained professionals through the television. It is stupid and what I am thinking is probably wrong, but it is the same thing as Football fans screaming at Football players on the TV. We do not actually know better than them. There's a reason they are on TV and I'm on hour six of my "Chopped" marathon.
2. I Can Taste The Food Through The TV
There is something addicting about watching people perfectly craft a gorgeous plate and just seeing how beautiful it must taste. You get to see people cook things that you may never even begin to hope to try because of their intricate preparation or expensive ingredients. For the same reason that people watch professional sports, seeing someone at the height of the craft perfectly execute a dish is euphoric to the senses. I can almost taste the juicy steak as I watch the "Chopped" judge slice into a perfectly cooked steak and it lightly spills onto the plate.
3. I Think I Can Cook Better Now:
After watching hundreds of hours of the Food Network, I have to be an expert at cooking by now right? I must have flawless understanding of cooking techniques, flavor combinations, and dish balancing. Well I think I do, but whether or not I actually can is up for debate. Doubtlessly I understand what goes well together better than I did before, but on actual execution I might not have improved at all. I may start using fancy words like palette and julienne and I do actually know what they mean, but I do not know if they actually make me a better chef.
4. It Actually Does Come In Handy
Believe it or not, knowing so much about food actually can be useful on the rare occasion. When at dinner with friends, I am the one they ask when they do not know what something is, and often I can help them. I am also great to have around when grocery shopping because you can just tell me what you want to eat and I can tell you everything that is in it, even giving helpful tips on how to prepare it. It may not come up often, but that small moment of gratification is always worth the countless hours of "Iron Chef America."