Gastronomic Delights Abound!
My wife and I tried a new recipe for supper tonight. The following is a letter I e-mailed to America’s Test Kitchen, a group of intelligent-looking people who have a cooking show on Public Television. (The recipe in question can be found on their website.)
My beloved Viennese bride and I have been watching your show every week on Iowa Public Television for a few years now. Generally, I watch the show simply because as a musician I’ve usually been out playing my bass in various clubs until the wee hours and I need something gentle to gawk at in my slack-jawed way on a weekend morning. My wife, however, comes from more refined stock than I – her family has been running restaurants in Austria and throughout Europe for generations. She knows fine food when she sees it. (My idea of a fancy meal in a restaurant is getting something I don’t have to unwrap myself.)
In any case, after years of watching your show, we decided to take the plunge and actually try one of your recipes. The show that inspired us so was “Porkapalooza,” or something to that effect.
“Are you vatching dis?” my Austrian Snowflake asked, nudging me gently in the ribs. “Look – they’re cooking a pork chop. You like to cook pork chops. But look – dey don’t use Tabasco Sauce, und nothing’s on fire.” I gamely tried to focus both bleary eyes on the TV. Indeed, when you guys cook there’s no smoke. Odd.
“That does look good,” I said. “Wait. Did they just put ANCHOVIES on a pork chop? Ew… That looks miserable!” I looked over to see my wife taking notes. “Can we substitute ‘anchovies’ with ‘Little Smokies’ maybe?” I asked hopefully. “No,” she replied. “Now hush.”
A week later, armed with chops, anchovies, vinegar, etc., my beloved bride headed to the kitchen. I took my appointed position in front of the computer. “Pork Chops with Vinegar and Sweet Peppers,” read the recipe on your web site. My job, full of responsibility indeed, was to call out the directions. My wife’s job was merely to do the preparing, cooking, cleaning, thinking, measuring, and all that stuff. Eventually my better half came trotting proudly out of the kitchen, steaming plate in hand. She set the plate down on the table. We sat down, staring at the plate. “Vell,” she said. “Try it.”
Hands slightly a-tremble, I applied knife and fork to the chop in the time-honored manner. “Do you want the first bite,” I asked. “You cooked it.” She shook her head and motioned for me to hurry up and eat. At the first bite all thoughts of ketchup fled. I sat, slowly masticating (which is not as obscene as it sounds, honest – you can look it up if you don’t believe me) and sighing in awe and glee. “Vell?” my vife asked. “How is it?” I looked at her, wide-eyed. “MMmmmm-mm-mmuuurrrf,” I told her, “Mmmuuunnngllee mmeierrggg nnnog.” My wife looked at me. “Goot?” she asked. “Does dat mean it’s goot?” I nodded enthusiastically.
I don’t know how you guys did it, but through the miracle of that recipe you have transformed the lowly pork chop into a slice of heaven! It’s a thing of beauty. Truly. We finished eating hours ago, and we’re still talking about those chops. I find myself saying things like, “such a delicate hint of spice on the back of the palate,” and “the roundness of the acidity counteracts the squareness of the sweetness nicely,” like I know what I’m talking about. But gee, that chop was good!
So good, in fact, that we’re probably gonna end up buying your cookbook. And another can of anchovies.