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Posts Tagged ‘TV chefs’

I was talking about TV cookery shows with a friend this week. It made a pleasant change of subject from other people’s illnesses, how they don’t make nativity plays like they used to (they’re actually rollicking good fun nowadays – imagine that!) and how ‘Christmas shopping’ is possibly the most terrifying phrase in the English language.

So we dwelt on TV cooking for quite some time, for fear of finding ourselves straying back into those danger areas.

Liz watches several of them and so when I happened to blurt out that I have a pet hate about such programmes I suspected she would understand what I was banging on about because she’s the nearest thing I know to a Mastermind-standard expert.

I said I felt they were all missing a trick because I had never yet seen one that gave guidance on absolute basics. She started to disagree, but I explained that what I meant was basics such as how to wash and thoroughly clean fruit and vegetables before chopping, dicing, slicing and so on with varying degrees of expertise. (In my case, invariably wielding a less-than-sharp knife, in a very much less than expert way.)

All you ever see is a delicious pile of ingredients rapidly reduced to a pan-ready state. But what happened to them before they began their starring role?

Some unseen assistant will, one hopes, have been charged with thoroughly washing and, where necessary, scrubbing the wherewithal for Mr or Ms Michelin-Star-Wizard to transform into a delicious dish.

But why can’t we be shown that process? How many cooks, or people who call themselves cooks thanks to the influence of telly chefs, take the time and trouble to wash away the chemicals from their raw ingredients?

“Do you know,” Liz said, “I’d never given that a thought.”

If you use organic produce it’s not that much of an issue, I said, in my best trying-not-to-be-preachy voice. You just need to inspect it and wash out any wildlife that may have hitched a ride.

But most other stuff has been sprayed and glazed and waxed to within an inch of its ridiculously false long life.

I explained to Liz that when I use non-organic stuff I wash it thoroughly in a solution of bicarbonate of soda. This is a win-win because it not only cleans it well but it makes me feel like an authentic Italian nonna.

And as for waxed, non-organic citrus fruit, well, I treat it a bit like a small child that’s covered itself in non-washable felt-tip pen: I just scrub and scrub until the pips squeak.

I asked Liz if she had ever known a TV cookery programme advise viewers to use only unwaxed oranges and lemons for grating or zesting. Never, she agreed.

Well, that’s what I mean about the programme makers missing a trick. Someone should be showing us the preliminary stages, so that we can all wise up to the unwanted extras that come with some of the fresh ingredients in our recipes.

“I had honestly never realised I’m grating the wax preservative as well when I grate an orange,” Liz said. “That’s revolting – even if it is apparently edible!”

Hot water and a vegetable scrubbing brush should do the trick, I suggested, or buy unwaxed organic fruit.

My holier-than-thou lecture over, we moved on to some of the dodgy hygiene we’d observed in a few cookery programmes – and this, inevitably, brought us full circle back to the fun topic of ailments and illnesses.

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